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Do you suspect a medical condition but are wary of going to a doctor? Many people feel the same way, though for a variety of reasons. You may feel that your condition isn’t a big deal that requires medical attention. Or maybe you just don’t have time to visit the doctor’s office.
Whatever the reason, a growing number of people prefer to conduct their own health checks from the comfort of home. These days, several direct-to-consumer health and wellness tests are easily available and affordably priced, too.
However, at-home tests are not without their drawbacks. Performing a test yourself, even where reliable kits are available, is not the same thing as being diagnosed by a medical professional. That said, several at-home tests are highly reliable, can be conducted in privacy, and provide great value for the money.
1. Blood Glucose Levels
For many patients, it’s important to monitor blood sugar levels regularly. This is especially true for those who have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. In-home blood glucose tests can help patients make necessary adjustments to medication doses and/or diet.
Home testing for blood glucose levels also works well for those who suspect they might have Type 2 diabetes. Many adults live with this condition and are completely unaware of it. A home testing kit for blood glucose can help assess that possibility. Additionally, being proactive with blood sugar testing can save patients a lot of trouble in the future. If readings are on the higher side, a doctor visit can be scheduled, results discussed, and treatment started as needed.
2. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
A significant percentage of the population suffers from some form of sexually transmitted infection (STI) or sexually transmitted disease (STD). STIs can be dangerous, as they often remain unnoticed and undiagnosed. An absence of symptoms is not necessarily the same thing as a clean bill of health.
If you suspect an infection, you can test yourself using a reliable at home STI testing kit. Kits are available for various types of infections. Choose a home testing kit that can test for all types of infections so you don’t accidentally miss something. Many kits come with a prepaid label and box that must be sent to a lab for testing. If the test comes back positive, patients are advised to see a doctor immediately for treatment.
Are you taking cholesterol-lowering drugs? If so, you know it’s a common procedure to check cholesterol levels every six months to see whether treatment is effective. Now you can do those tests yourself to measure good and bad cholesterol using readily available home testing kits.
Test results can help you determine whether any lifestyle changes are necessary to improve results. For example, a high reading might prompt you to cut down on saturated fats and increase the time you spend exercising.
4. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Urinary tract infections are painful. You may have to consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment, but you can conduct an in-home screening for a UTI beforehand. These tests are simple and involve taking a urine sample and carefully following all instructions.
UTI tests are generally accurate. They can be especially helpful if your doctor is willing to prescribe antibiotics without requiring an office visit. If symptoms persist, you may have to ask your doctor for more powerful antibiotics. You might even have to make a personal visit for detailed testing and diagnosis.
5. Thyroid Levels
Approximately 20 million Americans have thyroid disease in some form or other, and 60% of these people are unaware of it. Undiagnosed thyroid conditions can put patients at serious health risks. They may develop heart disease, infertility, or other serious (even life-threatening) conditions.
Getting tested at home for a possible thyroid condition is a safe, simple way of making sure that you don’t have an undiagnosed condition. Test kits come with detailed instructions and provide reliable results without you having to visit your doctor’s office.
6. Vitamin Deficiencies
Your body needs vitamins in specific concentrations. If there’s a deficiency, it can create multiple health issues, which in turn can lead to serious illnesses. At-home tests are now available for vitamin deficiency testing, especially for B vitamins such as B6 and B12. These play a vital role in the operation and maintenance of your cellular health and immune system.
Nowadays, home health tests can provide accurate summaries of vitamin deficiency. They can be especially useful for the elderly, who may find it difficult to make repeated lab visits for testing and diagnosis.
7. Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C, a viral inflammation of the liver, affects approximately 58 million people globally. Since infected people may not feel ill, they remain unaware of the condition. By the time symptoms show up, the patient may have already suffered liver damage.
Given the severity of the downside, getting tested for Hepatitis C if there is even a possibility of infection is critical. Home testing kits for Hepatitis C are now readily available and can assist in making a preliminary diagnosis. If the test result is positive, contact your doctor immediately for an appointment, further testing, and appropriate treatment.
8. Yeast Infections
A yeast infection happens when the natural balance of yeast and bacteria in the vagina is disrupted. The condition causes inflammation and itchiness, and some women may also experience a white discharge due to yeast infection.
Nowadays, yeast infections also can be diagnosed at home. Test kits measure the vaginal pH factor. If a test reveals abnormal results, patients can go to a nearby pharmacy to buy over-the-counter antifungal drugs. These can effectively treat the problem. If the symptoms don’t improve or resurface, see a doctor immediately.
Home Tests Are Helpful, But Doctors Are More So
Not all in-home health tests are bulletproof. It would be a mistake to use in-home testing as a complete substitute for accurate clinical diagnosis. Some tests aren’t helpful in that they do not spare you an office visit, and some may yield false positives and increase stress.
Most in-home tests are designed for simplicity and accuracy, but they all come with a disclaimer. Any final diagnosis will rely on factors beyond the control of the test manufacturer. Test kits assume you will follow detailed instructions to the letter, but of course the possibility of human error must be factored in. Careful execution, some knowledge of how the test works, and a calm approach are all vital for getting back accurate results.