Of the many positive resolutions to live better, scheduling a check-up with a healthcare provider is a smart – and easy – choice one can make to stay healthy in 2016 and beyond. While a routine medical check-up may not have the same charm as a gym membership or a new diet, scheduling the next visit to the doctor’s will start the year off on a healthy note and set the foundation for a stronger future.
Even if there isn’t anything noticeably wrong, a check-up helps doctors track a person’s health. Taking yearly measurements of blood pressure, resting heart rate, height, and weight sets a baseline that make changes in health easier to detect. With updated medical records, a doctor can let someone know if their family history might put them at a higher-than-normal risk of disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) encourages regular doctor visits to determine personal risk factors – high blood pressure, high total cholesterol, or high blood glucose. Managing these factors is the key to preventing cardiovascular disease.
So this year, why not take charge and set up an appointment? It can be a chance to discuss personal medical history with a physician, specialist, or general practitioner and get the guidance to make the right decisions now. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
“Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. By getting the right health services, screenings, and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances for living a longer, healthier life.”
During a check-up, nurses and doctors can provide incredibly useful information such as whether or not one’s health is trending in a bad direction, and what one can do or start doing – right away – to make sure things don’t get worse. And if there is an issue, early detection is that issue’s best adversary. Early detection of diseases such as cancer, including mesothelioma, greatly increases the effectiveness of treatment and a successful outcome.
In other words: a problem can’t be solved until it’s discovered. Nothing is more important than knowing what, if anything, is wrong.
The Hidden Risk of Slow Onset Disease
A check-up is a good idea because some diseases, such as mesothelioma, may not show themselves for years. And even when symptoms do start, these can often be mistaken for other illnesses and might be easily dismissed by victims. This is why it’s perhaps even more important to act now, if one knows he or she have been exposed to asbestos. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS),
“Mesothelioma(s) related to asbestos exposure take a long time to develop. The time between first exposure to asbestos and diagnosis of mesothelioma is usually between 20 and 50 years. Unfortunately, the risk of mesothelioma does not go down over time after the exposure to asbestos stops. The risk appears to be lifelong.”
Thanks to the work of professionals in many disciplines, there is a growing awareness of mesothelioma and access to advocacy, treatment, and clinical trials. These resources, however, only benefit those who know they need them. Early detection is crucial, and yet the long gap between exposure and diagnosis would suggest that many people are still unsure of whether or not they are at risk, and what to look for.
The Communities Most Affected by Mesothelioma
Because many of the symptoms of mesothelioma are more likely to be caused by other conditions, people may mistake them for common, minor ailments. Pains in the chest, coughing, trouble swallowing, especially this time of year, are often associated with the common cold. By making time to talk with a doctor about what these symptoms mean – and whether they should be attended to – is a proactive decision with serious potential benefits.
The important thing, then, is to know who is most affected by asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma. According to the ACS,
“People at risk for asbestos exposure in the workplace include some miners, factory workers, insulation manufacturers and installers, railroad and automotive workers, ship builders, gas mask manufacturers, plumbers, and construction workers. Family members of people exposed to asbestos at work can also be exposed because the workers can carry home asbestos fibers on their clothes.”
Knowing the symptoms is crucial for people at higher-than-average risk. If these symptoms persist, and one has been exposed to asbestos, “It’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.”
The benefits of the annual check-up are many, especially for those looking to start 2016 on a healthy foot. Even if one receives a clean bill of health, seeing the doctor can still be an opportunity to discuss risks associated with one’s workplace. Especially for those in at-risk communities, a doctor can prescribe a screening which will let a patient know the proper steps forward. The best way to fight deadly illness and disease is early detection. Getting a check-up today is an easy and valuable a resolution to make.