Your health is your wealth. Staying on top of health checkups can be tough when you’re juggling work, family, and social commitments, but it can be a matter of life or death. Keeping regular medical appointments has become even more difficult as the pandemic has created an overwhelmed healthcare system and a backlog of appointments. If you are struggling to get to your regular medical checkups or you just want to keep a better eye on your health, then carrying out regular home check-ups could be the answer.
This list is a compilation of 3 super quick home health checks that you can do at home to make sure stay in tip-top condition and catch issues early.
1. Test your skin
Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States? With over two million diagnoses every year, regular skin checks are essential in every home. When caught early, the five-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%, making it essential that we learn to spot the early signs of melanoma. Don’t wait for your regular checkup, check your moles regularly for signs of changes. If you have a family history of skin cancer or a lot of moles, make sure that you check your skin once a month.
How to check your moles
To check your skin for signs of skin cancer, start off by scanning your entire body. Start at the face and work your way down to the toes. Be thorough and check hard-to-reach areas like your groin, soles of your feet, and in between your toes. You may need to ask a friend or family member for help on hard-to-see areas like your scalp and back. If you find a mole that looks different than the rest, take a picture and monitor any changes closely.
But what exactly are you looking for? Experts recommend using the “ABCDE” warning signs approach:
- A – Asymmetrical
- B – Irregular borders
- C – Abnormal/change in color
- D – Diameter (changes in size or moles larger than a pencil eraser_
- E – Evolving (is the mole changing in terms of appearance)
If you notice anything out of the ordinary, make an appointment with your doctor or a dermatologist right away. Aside from your regular home checks, it’s important to get an annual skin checkup from your doctor. Especially if you are at a higher risk of skin cancer due to family history or extended periods of high sun exposure.
If you want to take your skin test a step further, the NOTA mole tracker is a new app-powered mole tracker that can be used at home to check moles. This app allows you to scan your moles at home using the app to measure the electrical impedance.
2. Monitor your blood oxygen levels
If you suffer from conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), anemia, or heart issues, it’s important to keep an eye on the oxygen levels in your blood. A pulse oximeter is a small, non-invasive device that clips onto your finger to monitor how well your heart is pumping oxygen through the body. Tracking the oxygen saturation levels in your blood is the quickest way to detect changes in how your heart is pumping blood to the extremities.
How to test your blood oxygen levels
If you want to test your blood oxygen levels at home, especially if you are recovering from a respiratory or heart condition, the easiest way is by using a pulse oximeter. These handy devices can be bought online from trusted medical equipment providers such as Sensoronics. The device is small, making it perfect for home use. You can find out more using the FAQ here.
When taking your reading, follow the steps below:
- Choose a place out of direct sunlight to do the test
- Clip the device onto your finger (remove any nail polish in advance)
- Wait for the oximeter to take your reading
- Check your reading on-screen
- Note down your reading and mark any changes in your blood oxygen levels
Most pulse oximeters will show your results in a matter of seconds and are accurate to within 2%. Generally speaking, at least 89% of your blood should have oxygen and an oxygen saturation level is 95%. If you show a reading of 92% or below, this could indicate hypoxemia or a lack of oxygen reaching the extremities. Having said that, if your reading is lower than 95%, it’s important not to panic. There are several reasons for this. People who suffer from chronic respiratory or coronary issues may have a lower overall oxygen saturation which would be indicated to them by their doctor. If your reading is low and you don’t have any medical history to explain it, contact a medical professional immediately, this could be a sign of an underlying issue.
3. Test your breasts
Nowadays, many experts don’t recommend formal breast self-exams (BSE), but they do highlight the importance of getting to know your breasts and looking out for signs of change. Especially in women over 20. Getting to know your breasts, or “breast self-awareness” simply means familiarizing yourself with how your breasts usually look and feel. Do they get cystic lumps when you’re menstruating? Are they extra tender at certain times of the month? By knowing what’s “normal” for your breasts, you are much more likely to catch signs of cancer early.
According to the Johns Hopkins Medical center, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”
How to Check Your Breasts
Women should go for a physical breast examination at least once a year, but in the meantime, you should make it a habit to check your breasts for changes. Start off by gently pressing fingertips into your breast, looking for anything unusual such as lumps, skin dimpling, bruises, pain, and changes to your nipples. Work your way around your breast and don’t forget about the armpit area.
Regular checking will help you to get to know what’s normal for you and will make it much easier to detect abnormalities. If you are unsure how to check your breasts because you have cystic breasts, speak to your doctor for advice on monitoring them. Women who tend to get lumps in their breasts during their cycle are often advised to check their breasts during different phases of their menstrual cycle. This allows them to see if the lumps come and go at different stages of their cycle or if they change in size.
While still in the trial phase, a new high-tech bra could be the future for checking for breast lumps at home. If successful, this bra could help women to detect early abnormalities in their breasts and potentially save lives.
Health issues can be overwhelming and it’s often tempting to bury your head in the sand, but this only makes things worse. The more often you carry out home health checks, the more likely you are to spot any potential health conditions early. An increasing number of gadgets that enable home testing are appearing on the market to make the process of home health checks as simple and accurate as possible. Early detection can be the difference between developing a serious health issue or a mild, treatable one. Be proactive and take control of your health by listening to your body, doing regular home checks, and never skipping medical checkups with your doctor.