While there certainly is a time and a place for going to see a doctor (which we very much encourage!), there are ways to monitor certain aspects of your health from the comfort of your own home. Understanding this will not only help save time and money but hopefully, save lives as well. It’s fairly simple to teach oneself how to perform various body scans. The topics we’ll cover in this article include self-breast exams, self-skin checks and measuring your pulse. It’s always best to be aware of what’s normal for your unique anatomy; this will allow you to manage any concerns with maximum efficiency.
The first indication of most forms of cancer will happen at home. While there are specifics to search for as far as breast cancer signs go, the first step is knowing what your normal breasts appear and feel like. Ideally, this exam should be done monthly, though it will only take a few minutes on each occasion. All that you have to do is move your fingers around each entire breast and armpit one at a time, applying varying degrees of pressure. According to an article entitled “5-Minute Health Checks You Can Do at Home” found on Everyday Health’s webpage, you should examine yourself for “anything unusual — and not just lumps, but also any skin dimpling, bruises, and changes to your nipple, including discharge. Call your doctor right away if you notice any difference from the norm. If you have lumpy (or cystic) breasts, ask your doctor how often you should monitor them.” It’s also recommended to receive an annual breast exam when going to see the ob-gyn.
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the U.S., though it is also the easiest to detect. What’s more, in the vast majority of cases it’s entirely treatable or curable when caught in the beginning stages (particularly the most commonly occurring, less serious forms, basal and squamous cell carcinoma; melanoma is the most dangerous). This exam should also be performed monthly. The Skin Cancer Foundation has a very informative article by the title of “Do You Know Your ABCDEs?” That same page broke the process of this exam down in a straightforward way. The specifics to search for include: asymmetry, borders, coloring, diameter and evolution. Keep a mental diary of how your skin normally appears for optimum results. In addition to your self-skin examinations, booking with a dermatologist once or twice annually for a full skin exam provides the most preventative care. They can help identify abnormalities of moles in areas of the body more difficult to see.
Checking Your Pulse
It’s also a positive to get to know what’s typical for your body when it comes to your pulse. Higher resting heart rates can be an indicator of heightened risk for cardiovascular issues or heart attack. Ideally, a resting heart rate should measure anywhere between 60 and 100. A bit lower than 60 is acceptable and perfectly normal for a healthy, more athletic individual. To check your pulse rate, simply place the middle and index finger of one hand on the neck or inside of the opposite wrist. Looking at a watch, count for 30 seconds; double your calculation when that timing stops.
That was the guide we compiled for health-related checks easily done solo in a matter of minutes. Hopefully, you and your family will be able to use them as you continue to be aware of what’s personally normal. Performing these exams on the advised routine basis can make a world of difference in health awareness and your ability for early detection.
Featured photo credit: Bench Accounting via heart.org
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