OUR bodies don’t always tell us when we are sick. Which is why it’s important to go for an annual health check even when you feel healthy. Here are some tests you should do to stay healthy.
Cervical cancer is the second most common form of cancer among South African women after breast cancer. Pap smear: You’ll be checked for any abnormalities in the uterus, including the presence of cells that cause cervical cancer. It’s recommended for women aged 21 and older, even if they are not sexually active.
According to the Cancer Association of South Africa, the number of South African woman who get breast cancer is increasing, with women having a one in 29 lifetime risk of being diagnosed. A Mammogram: This is an X-ray picture of your breasts, including side views and is used to detect if there are lumps that could be cancerous. The Breast Health Foundation of South Africa advises women aged between 35 and 40 to have a regular mammogram and those aged between 40 and 50 to have a mammogram every year or two years. Women in their early 20s and those aged over 50 must still have their breasts examined as the cancer doesn’t discriminate based on age.
It’s estimated that three and a half million South Africans have diabetes, and that many more are undiagnosed. Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are chronic, while prediabetes – when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy, can be reserved. If you have a family history, or you are obese and your lifestyle puts you at risk of developing diabetes, you should test for diabetes. There are three kinds of tests – glycated hemoglobin text, glucose test and blood sugar test – which you can take.
More and more South Africans are getting diagnosed with diseases such as cholesterol and diabetes, which have also started affecting young people. To keep your cholesterol fully in check, you need to do a lipogram, which is a blood test that analyses your cholesterol levels, including the amount of good and bad cholesterol, as well as triglycerides (type of fat in the blood). High cholesterol is linked to heart disease. Testing depends on factors like age (from 20 but frequently older than 50), weight, family history and lifestyle, as alcohol and smoking increase the risk of high cholesterol.
It’s estimated that about one in three South African adults who are aged 15 and older suffer from high blood pressure, increasing the likelihood of getting a heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. You should check your blood pressure every time you go to your general practitioner. Alternatively, you can go to a clinic.