While you should always schedule regular checkups and screenings with a real doctor, there are many ways you can keep an eye on your health in between checkups. This is important because many conditions are fully treatable if caught early. Early detection means easier treatment and less money spent. If you find yourself without insurance temporarily and can’t afford to see a doctor, checking your own health is even more important. Keeping tabs on your health doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, many of the things you can do are free.
Get A Scale
Keeping an eye on your weight is important, both for those trying to lose weight and for those trying to maintain it. Regularly weighing yourself reveals those pounds that are trying to creep on before they become a big problem. If you have a Wii with the Wii Fit board and game, you already have a scale.
Blood Pressure Monitor
It’s important to check your blood pressure regularly, but especially important for those with a history of high blood pressure, risk factors, or who take medications that may raise blood pressure. Home kits are inexpensive and often more reliable than the public machines found in drugstores. If you don’t want to buy a home monitor, make time to stop by one of the clinics found in many drugstores. Most will do a free blood pressure screening.
Check Your Skin
Check for any strange moles or other abnormalities. Skin cancer is treatable when caught early. Also check your eyes, scalp, inside your mouth, and in your private areas. Skin cancer can grow anywhere, ever places that haven’t been exposed to the sun. Remember that even though you can reduce the amount you use for most products, sunscreen is one of the few products that you want to use more of.
Women should do regular breast exams and men should regularly check their testicles for lumps or swelling that might indicate cancer. Women should also note any changes in their periods.
Keep A Journal
If you’re having any strange symptoms, keep a journal about them. Record what happens, what you feel, and when. Note what seems to aggravate or bring on the problem. By tracking your symptoms you might be able to eliminate the problem altogether (such as identifying which foods cause reflux or allergic reactions for you). At the very least, you’ll have a full record to show your doctor which can aid in a quicker diagnosis.
Check Your Cholesterol
There are home kits for this, or you can get it done for free at many health fairs. If you’re at risk or under orders to monitor your cholesterol, this can be cheaper than going to the doctor every few weeks.
Check Your Waste
It’s kind of gross to look at what goes into the toilet, but often your waste products show the first symptoms of a larger problem. Monitor your urine and note any color changes or signs of blood. Check your poop for blood or color changes, and note if you have chronic constipation or diarrhea.
Check Your Hairbrush
If you seem to be losing a lot of hair, it could indicate a thyroid problem or some other condition.
Watch Your Height
Measure your height on a doorframe or some other way to check your skeletal health. Loss of height or posture changes can indicate bone density issues. If you’re over 50, keep tabs on your height.
Check Your Heart Rate After Exercise
People who have poor heart rate recovery after exercise have a higher chance of having a heart attack. Here’s how to check yours: After strenuous activity, count your heartbeats for 15 seconds using the pulse in your wrist. Multiply that number by four to get your heart rate. Sit down, wait two minutes, and repeat. Subtract your second number from the first. If it’s under 55, your heart rate recovery is higher than normal.
Check Your Sleep
If you’re healthy and getting enough sleep, you should be able to wake most days without an alarm clock. People who don’t get enough sleep often tire in the early afternoon to the point where it affects their work and/or they get very drowsy or doze off after dinner (as well as cost you money). If you’re getting enough rest, these should not be problems for you. Tiredness may not be just from lack of sleep, either. You may have another problem causing fatigue. If you’re tired often, see the doctor.
Keep A Food Journal
If you want to know if you’re eating healthy, keep a food journal and be honest. You’ll be able to see if you’re getting enough fruits, veggies, fiber and protein and identify your unhealthy foods.
Keep An Exercise Journal
Putting your activity down in black and white will show you if you’re getting enough exercise.
Get A Food Scale
If you have problems determining accurate portion sizes, invest a food scale. This will keep you on the healthy eating path.
Check Your Balance
Stand on one leg without holding on to anything and measure how long you can go without wobbling. You should be able to go at least 12 seconds without topping over or flailing to keep yourself stable. If you notice changes in your balance or any dizziness, talk to your doctor.
If you have any specific conditions such as diabetes, talk to your doctor about anything else you can do from home to monitor your condition. If you notice any changes in your health or if something doesn’t seem right, go to the doctor as soon as possible. If you’ve been keeping records of symptoms or measurements, take those with you. Your doctor will appreciate the extra information. You can do a lot to monitor your health at home in between checkups and most of it won’t cost you anything.
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