Most people fail to pay due attention to their health and never undergo regular medical examinations. This results in the late diagnosis of diseases that have already turned incurable. The adoption of annual checkups in polyclinics was to solve the problem of late diagnosis of the most common disorders. However, few people come to the doctor for examinations even though they are free and can be done on any day convenient for the patient. Such an attitude entails late diagnosis of many diseases significantly impairing the patient’s life quality.
What Is Checkup?
A checkup is a set of purposeful medical examinations and specialist consultations aimed at the current health assessment. A checkup is a better version of a prophylactic medical examination. It is a paid service. Moreover, the exams included in a specific checkup program can be selected according to your peculiarities and predisposition to certain diseases. During a checkup, you can also have genetic testing to predict risks for certain conditions.
The program is designed so that a person can have the biggest possible number of tests and examinations in one visit and get detailed information about their health in a very short time. The obtained data will help make an individual prescription to prevent the occurrence and further progression of the detected disorders. It should be remembered that not all diseases declare themselves through clinical signs and can be revealed only through regular medical examinations.
Who Might Need a Checkup?
All people aged 20–40, even those who have no obvious complaints and feel perfect, should have checkups every 3–5 years. People aged 40+ should have examinations every year to diagnose diseases early.
People with a positive family history should devote special attention to their health. If one has cancer, diabetes, or heart and vascular problems, their children are exposed to a higher risk of developing similar diseases in the future. Regular medical examinations and consultations of qualified specialists will help stay healthy and prevent serious complications.
It is advisable that you have checkups if you:
- are healthy and have no complaints;
- have some complaints of unknown origin;
- are vulnerable to certain disorders;
- have chronic diseases;
- live in an area with unfavorable environmental conditions;
- plan for a baby (in this case, both parents-to-be should have a checkup);
- experience extreme physical and mental stress;
- have unhealthy habits (smoking, drinking alcohol, taking drugs).
What Checkup Programs Are Available?
The choice of the necessary checkup depends on many factors: age, gender, genetic predisposition, present diseases, and many others. A medical examination can include just one or several different programs.
It is a therapist who gives the patient an initial consultation and selects the necessary tests and examinations. The specialist compiles a detailed case history and investigates complaints and risk factors for the most common diseases. If you have the results of previous examinations or findings, you should take them with you to the appointment: this will enable the doctor to see any changes in your health.
The basic checkup includes almost the same range of examinations that are offered by public hospitals: as a rule, these are a complete blood count and clinical urine test, X-ray, electrocardiography, and external examination by a physician. Usually, it takes an hour to do these basic tests and examinations, after which you will get information about your health and recommendations from the doctor.
A complete medical examination includes an assessment of the functions of the most important body organ systems. The range of examinations included in a full checkup depends on age, physical status, and gender.
A full checkup usually involves several steps. The first step includes a visit to a general practitioner, who collects detailed information about the patient’s health, risk factors, unhealthy habits, etc., thus getting a fuller picture of their health status.
The second step is visiting specialized doctors. This may include consultations with a neurologist, ophthalmologist, otolaryngologist, gynecologist or urologist, surgeon, cardiologist, or dentist. The third step is tests and examinations prescribed by specialized doctors. The patient also does a complete blood count and clinical urine test, X-ray, ECG, and any other examinations prescribed. The fourth step is the final one. Having collected all the test results, the patient comes back to the doctor for detailed explanations and recommendations.
If the examinations revealed some abnormalities, the doctor prescribes treatment, gives recommendations on the diet, exercise and schedules follow-up visits. All this is important for preserving health.
The checkup duration depends on the number of consultations and examinations included, but on average, it takes about one week.
Specialized checkups involve the examination of a certain body organ system. Its choice depends on the patient’s complaints, genetic predisposition, or past illnesses. There are checkups for examining the cardiovascular and digestive systems or diagnosing gynecological conditions and urologic diseases.
Cancer screening is another popular type of checkup, which is compulsory for people who had cancer or have a family history of cancer. A malignant tumor often grows without being noticed and becomes unresectable, thus making the cure almost improbable. For such patients, regular checkups are vital.
In addition to the standard list of tests, cancer screening includes a tumor marker test. To get the fullest possible picture, experts may recommend genetic testing, which shows a person’s predisposition to certain diseases. During the genetic testing, laboratorians decode the DNA. In most cases, they use blood samples; however, modern laboratories can analyze other body fluids (e.g., saliva). The obtained data help treat and prevent certain diseases.
It is important to hear a specialist’s opinion after each examination. For example, if a genetic test shows a person has a predisposition to diabetes, this does not mean that this disease is unavoidable: it just indicates the person is at risk of a certain disease. This information is to encourage them to have preventive examinations or treatment, follow a proper diet, and eliminate other risk factors.
Thus, a checkup is an essential procedure for those people who care about their health. A complete medical examination makes it possible to diagnose diseases early and prevent their further progression.
What to Do If a Checkup Shows There May Be Some Health Problems?
If problems are found during the tests, consultation, or examination, the doctor is to give clear explanations at the next appointment. If an evident disorder is present, the doctor prescribes some treatment. If the person is highly likely to develop the disease, they are given recommendations, which will help prevent it if complied with.