“Prevention is better than cure” – goes the age-old dictum. It is important to get one’s health checked up regularly if one wants early detection of any disease. This becomes even more essential as one reaches the golden age – crossing the 50-year mark – because it is then that the real degeneration of the body starts (if you are lucky and it hasn’t started for you post 40). It is therefore important to schedule regular medical check-ups to assess the damage as well as try and fix or slow it down.
However, before scheduling health tests and a doctor’s appointment, any man above 50 must take a few things into consideration. These criteria will help you figure out exactly where to look for the damage in your body and point towards the specific medical tests you may get done.
i. Take stock of the family’s medical history especially if a close family member has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes.
ii. Make a list of symptoms and questions regarding their before meeting the doctor so that all your concerns are addressed.
iii. The future health concerns should be looked into too so that the doctor may recommend a lifestyle change if need be.
iv. The tests that should be conducted depends on one’s personal information and health including age, lifestyle, habits, family history etc.
After this has been done, ideally one usually knows the basic makeup of one’s body and status of health. For specific concerns, there are some tests that help diagnose the scale of ageing of a male body post 50. The six tests that men above 50 should absolutely get done are:
- Colonoscopy – The doctor uses a really thin tube to look inside your colon for about half an hour. This allows him to spot cancer or pre-cancerous growth in your colon. If any problem is detected, it can be treated immediately before it gets bigger. Colorectal cancer can be prevented if caught early. If your colon looks clear, you might be able to wait 10 years before your next colonoscopy.
- Blood Pressure Screening – Getting your blood pressure checked is a painless procedure and takes about five minutes. However, a lot of health problems are prevented if it is a kept under check. High blood pressure for a long time wears down your blood vessels, raising your risk of heart attack, stroke and even dementia in some cases. If your BP reading is normal, you may need monthly BP screenings. But if it is high frequent checks are recommended – almost every week or so.
- Cholesterol Check – A simple blood check helps in detecting if the cholesterol level in the blood is under control. Cholesterol is a fatty substance which can clog up your arteries if it is low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol”. High-density cholesterol (HDL) or “good” cholesterol and triglycerides are also checked in the same blood sample. Heart attack or stroke can be prevented, if the cholesterol levels are not what they should be, the doctor could either prescribe medicines or methods to reduce cholesterol.
- Blood Sugar Screening – Blood sugar can be checked with a simple blood test. If a person suddenly loses weight or is thirsty more than usual, then he might be struggling with diabetes where his pancreas is unable to produce sufficient insulin or his body has become resistant to it. Diabetes may lead to vision problems, kidney disorders, nerve issues, foot problems, impotence and many other health complications. Diabetics are also more prone to high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Hepatitis C Screening – Again, testing of a simple blood sample will show if there are any hepatitis C antibodies in your blood. This virus can slowly cause liver cancer or liver failure and the most frightening aspect is that men don’t notice any symptoms of the infection till it is too late for treatment.
- PSA Blood Test – Prostrate Specific Antigen test is done to see if there are any abnormalities in the prostate. A manual rectal exam can also be a done by the doctor to check for enlargement. A blood test is done for prostate cancer and it is confirmed by biopsy. The PSA results for a man without prostrate is below 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ ML) of blood.
Health certainly is wealth and it is up to us to not procrastinate when it comes to getting some important tests done. They don’t cost much nor do they take much time or effort. However, they can prevent lots of diseases making our old age healthier and much more enjoyable.
ABOUT AVNI KAUL:
Avni, Founder of Nutri Activania (www.nutriactivania.com) believes in a holistic approach to optimal living and considers other wellness factors such as sleep, exercise, environmental exposures, and stress levels to create an individualized nutrition plan. She does not believe in gimmicks or starvation plans. Which is why she insists on being called a ‘wellness coach’ and not just a ‘dietitian’).