As we come into the peak of winter, more people stay home due to inclement weather. While it can be easy to get off schedule at home in these situations, your health is not one of those things to let fall by the wayside. Even if you aren’t going to your doctor as frequently, there are ways you can perform self-exams for any signs of problems from the comfort of your own home. While checkups and a doctor’s guidance best accompany these exams, here are three self-exams you can do to keep up with how your body is functioning. Not only are they quick and simple, but they typically only need to be done once per month and can save you time, money, and pain by potentially identifying a problem before it is too late.
Arguably the most essential self-exam a woman can do, the breast exam is also one of the most commonly talked about for a good reason. Since about 1 in 8 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, identifying any such symptoms can allow you to get faster treatment with a higher chance of recovery.
Giving yourself a self-exam will allow you to become familiar with your breasts, making it easier to notice any abnormalities. For this self-exam, you should examine the appearance of your breasts in a mirror, both in a neutral standing position and while raising your arms over your head. Then in a comfortable place, such as a bed or shower, raise one arm and feel around the breast with light to medium pressure with the fingers of your other hand. Circle the entire breast, even up to the armpits, and check for lumps or hard areas. Additionally, check and squeeze the nipple area for any sort of discharge.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and sometimes we don’t take care of it as we should. Some people may dread getting wrinkles, but melanoma and other skin cancer pose a much more severe threat. While moisturizing and wearing sunscreen is good preventative practice, stay on the lookout for any other changes in skin appearance. To adequately perform this exam, examine every inch of your skin, using multiple mirrors to check the harder-to-reach areas such as your back and neck. While any type of sores or growths should be monitored, it is imperative to keep an eye out for spots and moles as you evaluate them against the ABCDE characteristics.
While your mouth and teeth are essential for living, it’s easy to justify skipping a night of brushing or flossing. Dental and oral health can often be overlooked for your physical wellbeing, but teeth are costly to fix and replace. Take away the risk of this by not only eating a nutritious diet while brushing and flossing regularly but also by examining yourself for any problem areas. Start by sticking out your tongue and looking around the inside of your mouth. Then, feel around the gums, lips, and roof of your mouth for any lumps, sores, or persistent bleeding, indicating an issue that needs further care.
Through these self-exams, you will be able to keep your health in check and become more in tune with your body, and noticing changes can help you decide to get medical assistance when you need it.