Today’s post is a guest blog from Petra Kravos; a UK based health blogger, originally from Slovenia. She runs one of the top UK’s health blogs, Be Healthy Now. Petra is very passionate about health and loves helping people with their healthy living journey. On her health blog, you will find a variety of topics, from natural health and healthy eating to fitness and natural living. You can follow Petra on Twitter , Instagram and Facebook Take it away Petra!
Staying healthy does not only involve healthy eating, exercise and self-care. Of course, our chronic conditions are complicated but we should all aim to pay attention to our bodies, be aware of what’s normal for you and what’s not so normal. This is where self-monitoring and health checks come in. Health monitoring is just one aspect of our health that we need to give attention to and here are the tips that will help you get better at it:
1. Don’t skip free NHS screenings and health checks
In the UK, we are lucky to have NHS to attend free GPs appointments and health checks that some people have to pay for. Make sure you use all of the free options you have available through NHS and attend screenings that you are eligible for, for example:
A cervical screening test – A really important test for women that can detect abnormal cells on the cervix. You will be invited for cervical screening every 3 years after the age of 25 and every 5 years after the age of 50. Don’t delay this important test and pick up the phone to make an appointment as soon as possible.
Free NHS Health Check – If you are between 40 and 74 years old, you are eligible for free NHS Health Check. This health check-up is designed to spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia. You should receive a letter from your GP inviting you for this check-up every 5 years.
Bowel cancer screening – This is offered by NHS to people aged 55 or over. You’ll be automatically invited for one-off bowl scope screening test once you reach 55. Those aged 60 and over will be automatically invited to do a home test every 2 years. If you are this age make sure to use these options.
Breast Screening – Offered to women aged 50 to 70 to detect early signs of breast cancer.
2.Don’t ignore important self-checks
Attending free NHS screenings and health checks are all well and good but nobody can spot early symptoms and abnormalities in your body better than you. Pay attention to your body and conduct regular self-checks so you don’t miss anything unusual. Here is what you should check regularly:
Your moles – did any of your moles change in size, colour or shape? Make sure you report it to your doctor.
Your breasts – look for a change in size or shape, lumps, redness or rash, discharge from nipples or dimpling of the breasts. Also be aware of any pain you may experience in your breasts and see your GP if the symptoms don’t go away.
Testicles (important for men) – if you are a man, it’s important to know what your testicles normally feel like. Notice any changes and see your GP if you feel a lump. If you are a woman, you can help your partner with this check.
Your urine and stools – be ‘bowel aware’ and notice any unusual changes in your bowel habits. Check the colour of your stools and urine and know what’s normal for you. If you see some blood in either your urine or stools you should make an appointment with your GP immediately
3. Don’t neglect your oral health
Oral health has been linked to many serious diseases that seem to have no obvious connection with the mouth, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and even Alzheimer’s. This makes it even more important to take good care of your teeth.
So make sure you have regular dentist’s appointments and never ignore signs such as bleeding gums and lumps which don’t disappear after a few weeks.
4. Use health monitoring technology
Today, we have a choice of several health and fitness apps which allow us to monitor our health and help us be healthier. If you are not using any of these apps yet, do give them a go. These apps can be used for all sorts of things like counting calories, keeping track of your weight, recording your fitness activities and even tracking your sleep. When paired with a fitness tracker or a wellness band, you will have a powerful health monitoring tool which will motivate you and keep you on track.
5. Use free services at your local pharmacy
Did you know that your local pharmacy could offer free health checks such as blood pressure check? I know this because I had it done once. So it’s worth checking and see what things your local pharmacy can do for you apart from dispensing medicine. Some pharmacies could help with things like weight management and can even measure your cholesterol levels and screen you for type 2 diabetes.
Do pop in to your local pharmacy to see what free services they offer and how they can help you monitor your health.
6. Make use of private healthcare companies
Sometimes you may have concerns about your health but your GP won’t send you for tests and in that case, you should know that you have all right to use private healthcare companies and do the tests that you are interested in through them.
You may want to have a general health screening once in a while, just to make sure you are healthy and for your peace of mind. Or maybe you want a very specific blood test like thyroid test or liver test. You could choose from a variety of providers online that offer this kind of tests although some may only have limited options of tests available. Providers such as Medichecks, has hundreds of health screenings and blood tests available so it’s well worth checking as their offering is so vast.
Monitoring your health is something you should never ignore if you want to stay healthy and live a long life. So do make use of all of the options you have available today. Don’t skip doctor’s appointments and screenings and make sure you conduct regular self-checks at home as well. If needed, use technology to monitor your health and if you have any health concerns, but your GP is ignoring them, make use of private healthcare companies.