Most of us missed some of our regular health checks and screenings during the pandemic, as non-essential doctor or hospital visits were not recommended. With the COVID-19 infection rates relatively low, and the possibility of a third wave of COVID-19 infections this year, it’s a good time to consider getting up to date on your health checks.
Regular health checks and screenings are important for identifying and treating health problems early. Kerry Simpson, PR for healthcare practitioners, gave us a list of the important health checks to catch up on. Speak to your doctor or health care worker about any other checkups you should have, given your medical history and pre-existing conditions.
The earlier cancer is detected, the better the prognosis for recovery, and the shorter (and less invasive) the treatment. So, if you’re due, or overdue, for any of these screenings, schedule an appointment now:
Men over 50
- Prostate: A digital rectal exam to check the prostate gland
- Colorectal (colonoscopy): To check for lumps or polyps in the colon or rectum
Women over 40
- Breast (mammogram): To check for breast tissue anomalies, growths and cancer
- Cervix (pap smear): To screen for cervical cancer
A regular dental exam is essential to identify and treat plaque, tartar, cavities and tooth decay. The longer you leave them, the worse these problems get.
Monitor any comorbidities
Certain medical conditions, called comorbidities, increase your risk of serious COVID-19 complications, so it’s very important to monitor and manage those conditions.
Diabetes is one such comorbidity. The complications for patients with diabetes who test positive for COVID-19 can be extremely serious, says Dr Daksha Jivan, a physician and endocrinologist at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, so it’s important to manage your sugar levels and take your medication as prescribed.
High blood pressure is another condition that increases the risk of complications. If you suffer from high blood pressure, continue to monitor your blood pressure and follow the treatment plan your doctor has prescribed for you,
including lifestyle changes and medication.
You can find a more detailed list of health checks and what they entail here.
What about vaccinations?
If you skipped the kids’ vaccinations because of COVID-19 lockdown, squeeze them in now. Vaccines protect kids from many serious diseases, including measles, polio and meningitis, which are much more dangerous to children than COVID-19.
About 10 000 people five years and older die every year from flu in South Africa. The World Health Organisation has recommended that high-risk populations should be vaccinated against flu. These include pregnant women, people with HIV and other causes of immune suppression, people with chronic lung, neurological or cardiac disease, metabolic diseases such as diabetes and morbid obesity, the elderly (65 and older) and healthcare workers. The flu vaccine won’t protect you against COVID-19, but it may help you avoid a trip to the doctor and, in general, reduce the pressure on the healthcare system
Health risks don’t go away just because there is a pandemic, and if regular health checks are put on hold, some risks might quietly increase. So put your mind at rest and make an appointment with your doctor and dentist while the COVID-19 infection rates are low.