Health Prevention, Diagnosis, Tests and Behaviours
- Introduction and General Issues
- Early Detection through Regular Check-ups and Tests at home or by medical staff
- Risky Behaviours, Societies and General Preventive Measure
1. Introduction and General Issues
Most serious chronic or life threatening disease are evolving problems or malfunctions in the body:
- Heart or vascular diseases generally result from, either one, or a combinations of a bad status in veins or arteries (e.g. solid deposits or narrowing of vessels), weak heart (e.g. too little training of the heart muscle), blood stream regulation or values problems (e.g. blood pressure, heart beat irregularity)...
- Type 2 diabetes results of a slow degradation of blood sugar levels regulation through insulin, with increasing blood sugar levels over years.
- Cancer is a malfunction of call growth which, starting in one spot in one organ, gradually proliferate and grows to extend to other organs through metastasis until critical organs like the heart or the brain cannot fulfil their functions any longer, which causes death.
- Infection by a pathogenic virus or a pathogenic bacteria evolves from an incubation period with no symptoms to gradually invade and threaten the whole organism.
In all of these cases, early detection, by which preventive measures and therapy can be undertaken before the evolution makes it more difficult, is critical to improving the prospects for the patient.
Early detection can be obtained by self observation or by regular check-ups and tests. Preventive check-up, when appropriate, can lower the overall cost of healthcare in our societies, even though the tests by themselves come with a cost.
2. Early Detection through Regular Check-ups and Tests
The general approach to early detection of health problems is to perform routine tests, either at home or by visiting a medical facility, or to perform tests after having taken a known risky behaviour.
2.a. Self Checks at Home
Routine checks can be performed at home for a number of problems, including some cancers:
- Skin cancer can be detected visually. Signs include a mole that has changed in size, shape, colour, has irregular edges, has more than one colour, is itchy or bleeds.
- Colorectal Cancer can be suspected when you see
gastrointestinal bleeding when going to the toilet
(so called blood on the stool).
Note that another condition leading to gastrointestinal bleeding is Hemorrhoids, which is distinctly painful on the stool. The best prevention for Hemorrhoids is enough hydration and eating fruits and vegetables to prevent Constipation, and avoiding spicy foods (limit
Spices to culinary herbs)
- Breast cancer can be detected through breast self-examination
2.b. Regular Checks-ups with Medical Staff
Visiting a medical facility (for example once a year if you can afford) for regular preventive check-ups might be a good idea and allows to measure such things as blood pressure or blood levels for a number of substances:
- Checking the blood pressure allows to detect hypertension. If detected early and not too strong, hypertension can often be managed through lifestyle changes such as having less salt in the food (avoid processed foods), regular cardio-training, and reducing stress (for example suggesting your boss to take up meditation).
- Blood levels (or urine levels) for glucose and lipids allows to detect risks or ongoing evolution for diabetes or cardiovascular problems. Massive inflammatory problems (including internal ones which cannot be seen directly) can also be detected through blood levels for substances like C-reactive protein (CRP), sometimes leading to suspect cancer and proceed with further examinations.
- Blood tests also allow to detect infections by viruses or bacteria, including during the incubation period when no symptom allows to suspect anything.
3. Risky Behaviours, Societies and General Preventive Measure
A number of behaviours (for example sexual behaviours, recreational drugs consumption, but also eating habits, going down the stairs habits, etc.) put people's heath at risk. Some of these behaviours can be considered inappropriate, or even illegal in the considered society. Each society and culture will have different conception of what is appropriate or not regarding these behaviours. The levels of repression and punishment for the people who do it all the same also vary greatly with societies.
However, whatever the level of social pressure, morals enforcement, etc., any society will have people doing such things within it, just as no society can claim to be completely exempt from crime. It should also be noted that some people, particularly women, are simply subject to abuse and have no responsibility in undergoing hazardous acts. In any case, some diseases, including Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) such as AIDS, spread through the society without the people exposed even being aware that they are exposed.
It is very common that the considered behaviours (for example sexual behaviours) involving risk carry social stigma in relation to deviance from a social norm. This social stigma generally translates on the individuals with feelings of guilt or shame. Those feelings of guilt, and the associated anxiety can be counterproductive for the individual to take preventing steps (such as screening) to prevent health problems. It can also be a problem to inform a potential partner, including a legitimate partner such as a spouse, about the risks and its possible prevention.
Those problems always lead to the society as a whole being exposed to risks, regardless of the levels of morals enforcement within the society, the social circles, the families or the pair involved. In some societies, a broad share of the population carries risks or is exposed to risks without even knowing it. For that reason, it is important that, to the extent at which it can be tolerated by the society, all the people can openly express their concerns, and speak out to medical staff which can perform the relevant tests and screening. This includes routine screening for as many people as possible.
It should be noted that, for some diseases like AIDS, preventive measures can be taken to prevent any risk of further contamination, while allowing regular sexual intercourse. However, this requires that the person knows his/her status and be able to inform the partner. Some organizations such as UNAIDS can help people know their status an get relevant information about risks prevention, while preserving one's life goals.