Five health checks to do at home

Senior Regional Physician at Bupa UK
03 October 2016

Monitoring your own health doesn’t need to become a worrying task of regular self-checking. The secret is to take time to become familiar with your body and what’s normal for you. Then, from time to time, just check to see if there are any changes. Changes don’t always mean serious illness – but if you’re concerned about any changes in your body then see your GP to get checked out.

The following are five ways you can keep an eye on your health and what’s normal for you.

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Being breast aware

Every woman’s breasts are different in their size, shape and how they feel. There isn’t one ‘right’ way to check your breasts. Just get used to the way they look and feel perhaps once a month, including during mid-cycle. Do this in any way that’s best for you. This might be in the shower or bath, or while dressing. If you notice anything unusual, including lumps or thickened areas, skin changes or changes in your nipple, see your GP right away.

Catching testicular problems early

Testicular cancer has a very good chance of cure if caught early. Getting into the habit of checking your testicles about once a month gives you the best chance of noticing any early changes. It’s probably best to check your testicles after a warm bath or shower when the skin of your scrotum is relaxed. You can find out more about how to do this by reading our topic on testicular awareness. If you notice any changes in your testicles, such as a lump or swelling, see your GP straight away.

Am I a healthy weight?

We all know that being overweight or obese harms our health. You’re more likely to get heart disease or diabetes if you have a high body mass index (BMI) or carry extra weight around your middle. You only need a set of scales and a tape measure to keep an eye on these.

Use your height and weight to find out your BMI from our BMI calculator. A BMI over 25 is said to be overweight, over 30 obese.  Whether this applies to you may depend on your build, for instance how much muscle you have. Then measure your waist. If you’re a man, you’re more at risk if your waist measures over 94 cm (37 in). For women, it’s over 80 cm (32 in). If your measurements are high you may want to consider losing excess weight.

Some illnesses can make you lose weight without intending to. The sort of weight loss which might be of concern is losing over five percent of your body weight over a period of about six months. See your GP if you’ve noticed you’ve lost weight without trying.

Keeping an eye on your skin and those moles

From time to time you should check your skin, from head to toe, in good light. Checking your skin regularly will help you learn what’s normal for you and notice if there have been any changes, especially in your moles. These might include changes in colour, size or shape, or you might see a new mole, sore or odd skin patch. If you find any unusual changes see your GP.

Noticing bowel changes

Although it can change according to what we eat and our lifestyle, most of us are aware of what our usual bowel pattern is. It’s different for everyone. It’s good to be aware if there’s an unusual change in your bowel habit. Perhaps you used to go once a day and now it’s three times a day, or even once every three days. The consistency might be different; looser for example. There are lots of reasons for your bowel habit to change, but if it goes on for three weeks or more, it’s best to see your GP.  See your GP too if you notice blood in your stool (poo).

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you. 

Dr Andrew Li
Senior Regional Physician at Bupa UK

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