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Going to a hospital for a check-up or health tests is something that isn’t on the priority list of a lot of us but you should know that seeing a doctor only when you are sick is a big mistake.
The human body is a complex, dynamic organism, and things go wrong with it from time to time. And in many cases, there might not be many signs you can notice that trouble may be brewing. Which is why it’s so important to get a good look at what’s going on inside your body. And some medical laboratory health tests and lab work are often the best way to find out what’s going on.
More so, staying on top of recommended tests and screenings increases the chance that any problems get caught early, which will make it easier to treat.
Here are Five important ones you may need to get this year.
This test measures the amount of cholesterol both high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or the “good” kind, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or the “bad kind”—and a type of fat in your blood called triglycerides. All of these factors combine to create your total cholesterol reading.
High cholesterol levels mean you have an unhealthy amount of plaque in your arteries, which can cause blockages and raise your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Experts recommend that all men get tested initially between ages 17 and 21. As such, if you’re over 21 and haven’t had one yet, you should really try to have one done this year.
The cholesterol is measured with a blood test after you’ve fasted for 9 to 12 hours. If the test comes back normal—199 mg/dL or below—you won’t need another test for five years.
If it, however, shows that your total cholesterol comes back borderline 200 to 239 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or high (240 mg/dL), your doctor will determine when you need to be retested based on your heart disease risk factors like family history, smoking, or being overweight. He will also recommend treatment options like diet, exercise, or medication.
Blood pressure reading
High blood pressure—now defined as 130/80 milligrams of mercury (mm Hg) or higher—has no symptoms, but it can lead to a heart attack or stroke if left untreated. That’s because high blood pressure can cause damage to your arteries, which increased the risk of dangerous blockages. Screening for this silent killer can save your life.
That’s why it is important checking at least once every three to five years is so important. If your blood pressure reading was normal, you don’t need to be checked again for three to five years.
If you measure high two or three times in a row (a single high BP reading could be a fluke), your doctor will recommend treatment options like eating better, exercising more, or taking medication, and retest you within the next six months to see how your numbers are doing.
Blood Sugar Test
Not every guy under 40 needs to be screened for type 2 diabetes. But if your body mass index is greater than 25 and you have at least one other risk factor (like high cholesterol or a family history of diabetes), you should be screened every three years. Screening for healthy men, however, starts at the age of 45.
While there are a lot of screening tests, your doctor may recommend an A1C test—a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level over a three-month period by looking at the amount of blood sugar attached to your red blood cells. You’ll have to be tested twice over the course of three months.
Two readings with A1C levels of 6.5 percent or higher means that you have diabetes, while a reading of 5.7 to 6.4 percent means you have prediabetes.
People with certain red blood cell disorders like sickle cell anaemia may need another type of test. Your doctor might opt to measure your blood sugar with a fasting blood sugar test or an oral glucose tolerance test.
If it’s been more than two years since your last eye exam, you need to call your optometrist. They will do a vision check to make sure that you’re seeing clearly and update your glasses or contact prescription as needed. That’s important since squinting and straining can lead to headaches.
Your optometrist will also screen for glaucoma, a disease where too-high pressure in the eye can lead to vision loss. This usually involves a puff-air test, where a quick puff of air is blown into your eye to measure the pressure in your eye.
If your eyes are healthy, you won’t have to come back for another two years. If your doctor thinks you are at risk for glaucoma or if have a family history of diabetes or high blood pressure, which could affect your eyes, they may recommend you come in at a shorter time.
Plus, if you wear contacts, you’ll need to come back every year, since contact lens prescriptions expire after 12 months.
Testicular cancer examination
Your risk for most cancers doesn’t increase until your 40s and 50s. But around half of the testicular cancers begin in men ages 20 to 34. Testicular exams are as important for young men as breast exams are for women.
Examination at the doctor’s office will usually be like what you do at home. Your doctor will feel your testicles for any lumps, swelling, or tenderness. If he notices something unusual, he’ll recommend a testicular ultrasound for further testing.