While you are busy working hard and partying harder, your health may slowly take a beating. Lifestyle-related disorders such as stress, high blood pressure, heart ailments and diabetes are on the rise. So, it is advisable that those in the age group of 20 and above have a routine health check-up every year. This will help you keep a tab on your health.
This would consist of a basic or advance form of blood, urine and stool test. Advance tests can be conducted for those with specific requirements as recommended by their doctors, in case you have diabetes, thyroid problems etc.
According to Dr Sailesh B Mehta, MBBS, a general physician, who manages his own practice in Mumbai, a routine check up should be done annually even if no problem persists. If you suffer from a particular condition, a check-up every six months is ideal.
He continues, “Ailments, diseases or deficiencies if present can be detected at an early stage, and corrected.”
Here is a list of basic tests, many of which can be conducted in any good pathological laboratory or specialist clinics.
i. Urine test: To detect any urinary tract infection, which is more prevalent amongst women.
ii. Stool test: To detect infections or worms in the stomach, causing low absorption of food in the body.
iii. Blood test: To check the level of haemoglobin or Complete Blood Count.
A blood test further involves:
CBC or haemoglobin count: Some of the major reasons for conducting blood tests can be to detect if a person is a thalesemia minor or major, to check his/her CBC, as well as his/her haemoglobin levels. For an adult female, the normal level of haemoglobin should be between 11.5 gm per cent to 15 gm per cent, where as for an adult male, the normal hemoglobin level should be between 14 gm per cent to 18 gm per cent.
Note: These haemoglobin levels are as per Indian standards.
Sugar: This involves two tests, a test after a 12-hour fast (preferably first thing in the morning) and a test two hours post lunch.
“Due to the current lifestyle, stress, unhealthy eating habits and increased consumption of junk food, the rate of occurrence of diabetes is on the rise. This test can detect if a person is suffering from diabetes. Borderline cases if detected early can be controlled,” says Dr Sanjay V Desai, a clinical pathologist, who has his own clinical pathological laboratory in Mumbai.
Lipid profile: This test helps to detect the cholesterol level in your body and is done preferably 12 hours after dinner. It also helps to check stryglycerides in case of those who lead a stressful lifestyle.The normal cholesterol levels range range between 120 and 200. “For instance, if your cholesterol level is around 220, it is still okay and can be controlled, but if it reaches 300, one has to seek medical help soon,” says Dr Desai.
Creatinine or kidney function: The basic test is conducted to check the presence of urea in the blood. Such tests also help detect kidney malfunction, diabetes or high blood pressure.
Thyroid test: This can be conducted for men/women of any age group, especially if you have suddenly gained or lost weight. It does not feature in the routine test, but can be done if recommended by your doctor.
Alkaline phosphatase test: Both men and women can undergo an alkaline phosphatase test to detect the bone density in their body. This should ideally be done after the age of 50. This can help detect osteoporosis in women at an early stage.
Abdominal sonography: “In medical terms, we call it the Pandora’s box, as nobody knows what’s happening inside the human body,” says Dr Mehta. Abdominal sonography will reveal any abnormalities in important organs such as the liver, pancreas, stomach, gall bladder, intestine, kidney, spleen. It can detect diseases or cancers of the ovaries, uterus and the prostrate.
“In case of early detection of any disease or cancer, it can be treated from an early stage,” concludes Dr Mehta.
Chest X-ray: It is detects any abnormalities in the chest/lungs. In India especially, such tests are conducted to detect tuberculosis.
Mammography and pap spear test: Women should get their breasts examined once a year. This can be done either at home after consulting their doctors on how to do it or get a check up by their doctors. Married women especially should visit a gynecologist. They should also undergo a pap smear test which can help detect any infection or uterine cancer at an early stage.
Electro Cardio Gram or ECG: A cardiac test which includes ECG and Echo Cardiograph (especially for men and women above the age of 40) to check for heart diseases, or blocks. Echo cardiograph helps to detect whether the pumping action of the heart is weak or normal.
Anti-natal profile: While conducting tests for anti-natal profile ie for pregnant women apart from haemoglobin levels and blood groups, other tests such as Hepatitis B and HIV are also conducted. Mostly an HIV test can also be conducted if the person has undergone any minor or major surgery.
Dr Desai who has worked in the field of clinical pathology for the last 25 years observes, “There definitely has been a rise in mostly two kinds of ailments that we have tested on people till now. They are diabetic/sugar problems and calcium deficiency.”
1. A routine test that includes urine, stool, CBC and ESR, sugar (fasting before and after meals), kidney function (basic test), liver function (basic test), and lipid profile (basic test) can cost about Rs 900. 2. For urine, stool, CBC and ESR, it can cost about Rs 240.
3. A routine urine and stool test may cost about Rs 100.
4. Thyroid test can may cost about Rs 310. 5. HIV test: Rs 270
Note: These charges may vary from clinic to clinic.
Published in Rediff.com, on 23rd March, 2007.