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JANUARY CHECKUPS: 5 APPOINTMENTS YOU SHOULD STOP PUTTING OFF

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, warns if you’ve been putting off routine medical treatment over the past year, now is the time to catch up.

Affinity Health discovers troubling consequences for people who postpone routine or emergency healthcare. An urgent message is being sent out to patients: There are some medical appointments you should not put off any longer, even if you are nervous about visiting a clinic or emergency room.

“It’s a mistake to think about just putting your health on hold,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“The health risks of delaying some tests and exams – especially those for cancer and heart disease, but also other critical appointments – can lead to a life-threatening situation.

Hewlett is concerned that despite early treatment being essential for successfully treating common health conditions, many South Africans are still putting off doctor visits – and suffering as a result.

Affinity Health has put together a list of five crucial medical appointments you should be sure not to skip.

Screening For Cancer

When detecting and treating cancer, the timing might mean the difference between life and death. Routine tests for breast cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer, and other malignancies are due for many people now that a new year has rolled in. Some people, such as those with a personal or family history of cancer, have a strong need to catch up.

“People who postpone cancer tests are often diagnosed at later, more advanced stages when therapies aren’t as effective as they are at early stages,” Hewlett says.

He cites a National Cancer Institute study published that forecasts an additional 10,000 deaths from breast and colorectal cancer due to low screening rates. The study predicts an increase in fatalities from these new tumours during the following two years.

 

“We’re particularly concerned,” Hewlett says, “about people having but not being evaluated for symptoms of cancer like a new breast lump or trouble swallowing that may not be particularly worrisome to patients initially but can signal serious illness, including cancer. Call your doctor and make an appointment to get symptoms like that looked at straight away.”

Chronic Illness Follow-Up

If you’re already taking medications for a medical issue, such as diabetes, you might think it’s unnecessary to schedule a follow-up appointment. However, regular health checkups and tests are needed, even if you have reasonable control of your blood sugar levels, are eating healthy foods and living an active lifestyle.

Diabetes consequences are aplenty, including eye disease, renal problems, nerve damage, and more. People may have extremely active disease and be unaware of it, which is a serious worry,” says Hewlett.

While chronic illnesses can be managed from the comfort of your own home, some procedures cannot be done online or by phones, such as lab tests, wound treatment, and other necessary tests for patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes.

Management Of Mental Health

Just as the holiday period has added stress to those suffering from physical disorders, it has also taken a toll on those suffering from mental health issues.

Even though many healthcare providers in South Africa have extended virtual choices for accessing mental health and substance abuse treatment, we continue to observe high drug overdose rates and emergency room visits for mental health crises.

 

Regular visits for long-acting psychiatric drug injections, for example, drug screening tests and prescription pickups for patients in medication-assisted treatment programmes, must be maintained. Additionally, blood tests for medicine titrations should be kept up to date.

Maintenance Of Sexual Health

Some STDs are curable, and the majority are, at the very least treatable. Without treatment, certain types can cause severe, life-threatening diseases or even disrupt fertility down the road, so receiving timely treatment is vital.

If you’ve developed new genital or urinary symptoms or suspect you’ve been exposed to a sexually transmitted virus, book an appointment with your healthcare provider immediately. For a list of eight common STDs, click here.

“Be open and honest with your provider about your symptoms and concerns,” adds Hewlett.

Well-Child Visits

Regular checkups are critical for monitoring your children’s development and growth.

Here’s what to expect from a well-child visit:
  • Physical Examination
  • Vaccinations and immunisations
  • Growth, development, and behaviour tracking
  • Overall health examination

“Well-child visits are vital for keeping your child’s vaccines up to date. HPV, measles, mumps, chickenpox, and other vaccines are all necessary to keep your child healthy,” concludes Hewlett.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health insurance provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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