Everything you need to know about self testing health kits
Asking your physician about the value of a test need not be perceived as a confrontation. Instead, it should be viewed as a time for questions and answers. If approached with sincerity and courtesy, discussions about the physical examination in general and laboratory tests, in particular, can serve as a basis for forming an active partnership with your physician in making decisions about your healthcare.
Home self-testing health kits are available in most pharmacies and allow you to monitor a growing list of medical conditions. The tests should not be viewed as a substitute for your doctor. The accuracy rates and reliability of over-the-counter medical kits vary considerably, and their instructions do not always explain how to interpret the results. Test procedures are also subject to human error, but they provide a useful way to get involved in your own health care.
Regardless of the number and types of self-testing health kits, you may want to use, some other inexpensive items should be included in your medicine cabinet. These items should help you cope with most common minor aches and pains. Depending on your health status, gender, age, symptoms, and risk for a disease, some of the more common tests listed may be recommended when you go to your physician for a checkup.
Multiple blood screening tests check for high blood sugar, which indicates diabetes; blood urea nitrogen, an indicator of kidney function; calcium, for signs of an overactive parathyroid gland; and blood count, a screen for anemia, and much more.
Blood cholesterol screening is recommended every 5 years beginning at age. The test should measure total cholesterol, lipoprotein, and triglyceride levels.
Hemoccult tests are used to detect hidden blood in the bowel movement. If the test is positive, it may indicate signs of an early cancer of the colon. Individuals over 50 years of age should either test themselves (home screening kits are available in most pharmacies) or have their stools tested for blood every year.
Pulse rate may be an indicator of a health problem. The normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 80 beats a minute. Resting heart rates above 80 beats per minute put a person in a higher risk category for heart attacks and sudden death. The increased heart rate might be a sign of underlying problems, such as too much caffeine, cigarette smoking, anxiety, stress, hyperthyroidism, and most commonly, a poor level of physical fitness.
Slow heart rates are normally found in physically fit individuals; in these cases, it is a sign of good health. Very slow rates below 50 beats per minute can occur in people who are not fit and who have a possible heart problem. These individuals should seek medical advice.
Blood pressure measurements should be monitored regularly, especially for individuals who have had a previously high reading or a family history of hypertension (high blood pressure). Inexpensive, accurate home blood pressure kits can be purchased at most drug stores. Because all home health test kits are not equally reliable, you should ask your pharmacist for a recommendation. Individuals who have measurements higher than 140 over 90 mmHg or lower than 100 over 60 mmHg should keep a record of their blood pressure and present it to their physician during periodic checkups.