When I was a child, my mom often discouraged me from going to the hospital whenever I felt sick or for check-ups. One reason, although minor, was the harsh and sentimental attitudes of the health workers. The second and main reason was that she believed going to the hospital would worsen my health state or the doctors would rather discover more health issues.
Without doubt, this is a different way of thinking from the very common belief and practice of regular hospital check-ups or physicals. Check-ups are widely believed to prevent diseases. In fact, many physicians recommend regular hospital visits, early diagnosis and habitual screenings. Some have even labeled out different diseases and the particular periods they should be examined.
The argument is that regular check-ups and screenings discover potential diseases or even completely remove the risk of getting sick. Check-ups have also been said to detect already existing but unknown diseases which can be treated early and in turn weaken the chances of getting severe.
The perceived benefits of regular check-ups are limitless. Although regular check-ups seem to tally with the slogan ‘prevention is better than cure’, they may actually be more harmful than useful.
Regular check-ups may be overrated
Regular check-ups which used to be an unquestioned activity has now been criticised by even physicians. Some health experts argue that regular check-ups are not so healthy and they may even pose the body to greater risk. Studies have also found no proof to support that regular check-ups reduce the risk of having diseases.
For instance, a study on over 150,000 people examined the effects regular check-ups had on their physical well-being. The study discovered that check-ups had no much benefit and did not increase the life span of anyone.
In addition, a wrong notion is that ‘check-up’ means ‘prevention’ and some people think that having regular check-ups can prevent them from getting diseases. This is false as check-up or screening on its own cannot prevent or protect one from getting a disease. However, a check-up can only be preventive if it succeeds in discovering and treating abnormalities that could later become diseases.
Nevertheless, in the process of figuring out what and what is abnormal, the body is then exposed to some other risks. For instance, x-ray tests expose the body to radiation which has side effects such as bleeding, fainting and even cancer.
Regular check-ups can harm mental health
Truly, not all check-up activities are risky as some such as health advice, discussing medical history and physical examination seem harmless. However, having an ‘abnormal’ change or discovering a family sickness does not mean a person would automatically have some particular kind of diseases. Therefore, while check-ups try to update us about our physical health, excess can in turn harm our mental health.
For instance, overly discussing about our health can cause worry and anxiety and maybe even probe a mental health disorder called hypochondriasis. A hypochondriac is a person who worries about an undiagnosed medical condition. Even though there are no symptoms or medical proof, the person is convinced and afraid that they are or will experience such sickness.
These concerns do not undermine the importance of regular medical check-ups but rather suggest that a balance needs to be made.
Benefits must outweigh risks
While regular check-ups may truly diagnose and treat diseases early, it can as well cause other issues by treating unnecessary detected conditions that may never have happened. In other to save time, money and still be healthy, regular check-ups have to be monitored. Early diagnosis and screening should be done only when the benefit outweighs the risk.