In the United States, it is almost every citizen pays an annual visit to her/his primary health care specialist. A single, trustful and long-lasting association between a person and general physician is a culturally syncretic phenomenon in countries like the US and Canada even if countries like Costa Rica and Colombia boast of far more affordable and accessible health systems.

As per the World Health Organisation. Unfortunately, basic affordable health services and amenities still not available to millions, if not billions; all across the globe. India is one such country, home to almost one and a half billion people; where healthcare is only considered during or after at least the secondary stages of medical requirements. Primary healthcare in India is not given the attention it should warrant and this causes millions to suffer from even preventable diseases.

Doctors more often than not repeatedly advocate the importance of regular and general health check-ups for people of all ages. Twenty years ago, this idea would be scoffed at but the world has changed, for better and worse. The air we live in today in more polluted than it ever was, the quality of food has worsened, pollutants can be found in water sources everywhere, extreme and unimaginable amounts of plastic has entered our food chain and in turn us. Humans may live longer lives today owing to medical advances but do we live better? This is a question a lot of us tend to ignore in the face of a cutthroat world where work and success seem to take precedence over well-being. It may seem excessive and unnecessary to go in for a check-up if a person feels healthy and displays no visible symptoms that may require a visit to the doctor, but is it?

Some benefits of regular health check-ups:

  • Detection is key to curing every disease and prevention is better than cure. If you or your doctor are to prevent you from falling ill or worse; you both need to be aware. Regular check-ups ensure that a person is not carrying any nascent form of disease like stage 1 cancer (which is 100% curable in this stage) or mildly high blood pressure. The need for surgery or operation, long stacks of medical bills and countless nights in a hospital can be avoided with perhaps one annual visit to the doctor.
  • Avoids self-diagnosis by the patient, another disease plaguing country like India. A doctor will carefully examine a patient’s medical history, family history of any disease, sex, age etc. and then suggest tests which will yield better options.
  • Saves the patient’s money! by lowering health expenses. Regular check-ups will help enable early detection of a disease and this will be easier, quicker and much cheaper to cure. The cost of a course of medication or a full-scale surgery? Which one is cheaper? The question answers itself.
  • Blood tests will help detect diseases that are fatal and which may never show up for years like HIV/AIDS. These are life changing to say the least and people should afford themselves the truth regarding their own state of health. It can help families better prepare themselves and their loved ones for hard times.
  • The identification of stress related diseases like hypertension, anxiety, weight gain, asthma, Alzheimer’s, blood pressure is easier and will be done in advance. Some of these can be dealt with simply through lifestyle changes without medicine of any kind.
  • Onset of diseases like diabetes, thyroid and cancer can be detected and this can give people a better chance of recovery.
  • The potential for developing diseases in the future will be evaluated and this will also help people try and change their lifestyle in advance before anything untoward might happen.

A regular health check-up usually includes a general physical examination like Body Mass Index, age, height, weight, pulse rate, blood pressure etc. Blood tests, liver function tests, kidney function tests, lipid profile, blood sugar, X ray imaging, echocardiograms, urine examinations etc. These are available aplenty and are offered by a number of health centres.

Health check-ups can go a long way in ensuring a person lives the right way; the better way.

with Dr. Sahil Kapoor


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