Getting yourself tested | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 09, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 09, 2018

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Getting yourself tested

While the list of medical screening tests is quite long, it should be done upon the doctor's suggestion as all tests are not needed for everyone. Some are gender-specific, such as the PSA test, which checks for possibilities of prostate cancer. Women over 40 or with irregular bleeding should opt for a pap smear to eliminate chances of cervical cancer. Also, get a mammogram done to ensure you do not have breast cancer. No matter what; your first course of action should be consulting a physician. Perhaps going to the doctor is just one of those things that people tend to avoid unless they are practically bent over in agony. While they might list a hundred reasons for putting off a doctor's appointment, the underlying reason is often something nobody wants to admit— they are scared of the results. And before you discard the idea saying you are simply far too busy or whine about the excessive waiting lines or the overpriced medical fees, understand that regular medical check-ups are probably the only way (along with proper diet and exercise) to lead a long healthy life. Once you hit your 40s, the risk of all non-communicable diseases somewhat increases exponentially. Getting regular health check-ups will not only allow you to take preventive measures but it can also save you from spending tonnes of money on future surgeries or other extensive medical services.

WHERE DO YOU START?

For starters, basic things such as your blood type (if you do not know that already), blood pressure and cholesterol levels should be tested. Checking your blood pressure and cholesterol will help you understand your risks of heart diseases, strokes, and kidney diseases, and is especially important for those with a family history of such ailments. The doctor can then suggest lifestyle changes or even medication according to your results.

 

GENERAL HEALTH CHECK-UPS

Luckily for you, medical centres often have different packages to suit your needs. If you have no history of serious medical conditions, you could start with a general health check-up, which often costs about Tk 8000. This is best done right before you hit your 40s as that is when your risks are highest. General health check-ups often consist of a number of tests, which help the doctor know whether all your organs are working properly.

A complete blood count (CBC) test is done to check for anaemia, and also detect other irregularities such as infections, which are often indicators of more severe conditions. Then opt for a RBS (Random Blood Sugar) test, which will measure the glucose level in your body and test whether you have diabetes.

You would also be asked to do a urine test to understand the state of your kidneys or check for urine infection. The colour, texture and even the substances present in your urine says a lot about your health and it is not something to be taken lightly. While a chest X-ray can check whether your heart and lungs are working properly, a serum creatinine test is done to further ensure your kidneys' well-being.

These tests are usually enough to give us an idea about the patient's health. However, if you are a heart patient or over 40, we also suggest an ECG to check whether your heart and its valves are working properly,” said Dr Kafil Uddin, a physician in BSMMU.

SCREENING TESTS

The basics are hardly what you have to stop at! Often, one experiences pain and can suspect the prevalence of certain diseases. Hospitals and medical centres such as Apollo, Ibne Sina and Square have disease-specific packages, which can drive all your worries away. These include special packages for diabetes, cancer, kidneys, thyroid and even joints. Costs do vary depending on the expenses of the tests. While a kidney check can cost about Tk 4000, checking for cancer can usually cost as high as Tk 13000.

A constant headache can be a symptom of brain tumours and a CT Scan or MRI is encouraged. HbsAg test is done to ensure you do not have Hepatitis B, and anti-HCV to checks for hepatitis C virus. Quite often, anti-HIV tests and tests to exclude possibilities of venereal diseases are also included in the packages.



HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU TEST?

So, now the big question is how often should you get a general health check-up? That would depend entirely on your health conditions and family history. One should be checked for diabetes every three years once you are over 45. However, those over 35 should be screened for high cholesterol every five years, unless they have diabetes, in which case they should be screened more often.

While, all of this can often be a lot of information to take in, remember, a health check-up can also be helpful for your family as you will be more aware of hereditary diseases. You can plan ahead and make essential lifestyle choices accordingly. So, rather than remaining apprehensive of what could be the results, it is far smarter to know and take measures accordingly.

 

Photo: Collected

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