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Just Checking

Published : June 08, 2015

Knowing our bodies and looking after our health is something we all need to do. Here are some health checks to keep you flourishing.

by: Melanie Hearse

FOR sun-blessed Aussies, regular skin checks are pretty high on the list of things to remember. With clinics specialising in this field dotted about the suburbs, as well as a referral from your GP, it’s a simple matter of booking an appointment and having your skin scanned and looked over. If you have any moles on your body you are concerned about, it does provide excellent peace of mind, and you will be advised as to how often you need to come in, depending on what is seen.

The thought of having a test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) might fill you with indignation, but if there has ever been any chance one may have crossed your path, it could be a worthwhile task to swallow your misgivings and request a test (your GP or a sexual health clinic can help you out). STIs such as chlamydia can show few or no symptoms yet have serious implications for fertility and general wellbeing. Look at it this way - you’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain by crossing it off your list.

Diabetes is a disease affecting increasing numbers of Australians (due largely to the rising number of overweight and obese people), and the scariest thing is an estimated 50 percent of people with the disease don’t know they have it until it becomes a real problem. If diabetes is left undiagnosed or poorly managed it can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, amputation and impotency. So now that we have your attention, you can ask your GP to test you for diabetes (it requires a simple blood test to check your glucose levels). This one is particularly relevant to people that have a family history of diabetes, are overweight or obese, have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or have had gestational diabetes.

With the high volume of ‘healthy’ food products on the market, it can be increasingly difficult to judge the quality of your diet - you think you are doing well, then you see or read another news story which conflicts with what you’ve previously been led to believe. For example, that low-fat food is actually high in sugar or carbohydrates and therefore a possible hidden cause of weight gain. There’s a couple of ways to set your mind at ease if you are concerned - one is to check out the Healthy Food Guidelines (you can find them at: www.nhmrc.gov.au, or ask your GP). If you are interested in more personalised, in-depth information, you could book in and visit a dietician - and check out your health insurance, it may be covered in your policy.

If you have ever had any concerns about your eyesight, a visit to the optometrist will address these issues and if need be, they can prescribe the correct glasses or contacts for you. An optometrist has something to offer those with 20/20 vision as well: a standard eye examination includes a screening for all common eye diseases, such as glaucoma and cataracts. Your optometrist will also examine your eyes and related structures for any vision problems, eye manifestations of disease or other abnormalities. Your eyes will be checked for focussing disorders, and your eye movements and coordination will be measured. All this, and it’s covered by Medicare at participating optometrists.

Non- Medical Health Check

Flourish suggests the family/relationship health check-up. Set a regular time (even if it is every six to twelve months) and sit down as a family or couple to discuss how everything is going.

Remember to compliment what is working well - this isn’t meant to be an argumentative free-for-all, rather a consolidation of where things are at. Invite everyone to talk freely about what isn’t working for them, and then discuss as a family/couple how you might address it. Also encourage everyone to talk about what is working for them, so you can all feel special to one another. If you, your partner and your children feel like this feedback is valued, you can create an environment where everyone is able to discuss things in an open and honestway,not just at these “check-ups".

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