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Home health tests can be helpful

March 5, 2017 GMT

In this day and age, people are able to take some important health tests into their own hands and perform them with a high degree of certainty that the results are valid and meaningful.

Of course, although many at home tests are reliable, you still need to follow up with your doctor in cases of positive or unclear results or if your symptoms persist. Just being able to test at home for certain health markers doesn’t confer you with a medical degree, but it can help you determine how well you are doing managing some of your health issues.

The global market for at-home health tests is estimated to grow to $18.9 billion in 2017, up from $14.7 billion in 2012, and this is largely because of the sheer convenience of doing a simple test at home rather than trundling off to the doctor’s office.

Some of the most widely used at home tests are tests for cholesterol, yeast infection, urinary tract infection, pregnancy testing, Omega 3 status and Vitamin D status. Not to mention that many people with diabetes test their blood every day in order to regulate their blood sugar levels.

The at-home cholesterol kit is a little pricey, and requires you to prick your finger to collect a drop of blood. The kit can measure total cholesterol, HDL and triglycerides with over 85 percent accuracy.

Writers at Health.com state that most people can have their cholesterol checked at their doctor’s office during their annual preventive wellness visit for free, paid for by their insurance. However, if you already know that your numbers are high and you are working to decrease them, having the ability to monitor your cholesterol and related readings at home is very handy.

The at-home yeast infection kit is a fairly easy test and very reliable at over a 90 percent accuracy rating. Apparently, women are very bad at self-diagnosing yeast infections and this kit lets you know within 10 seconds if you have a yeast infection.

Simply swab the vagina with the provided swab and wait and within 10 seconds a color-coded result is easily interpreted. You then either go and buy an over the counter anti-yeast medication of go to the doctor for a prescription if the swab indicates that you have a bacterial infection.

Urinary tract infection tests are very easy to administer and complete in two minutes. You simply place the kit strip in some of your urine and then compare the color on the test strip with the colors shown on the kit chart. The strips measure different markers, such as white blood cells, or nitrites, both of which appear in the urine if there is a bacterial infection.

If the test is positive then obviously, you must see a doctor for a prescription and if it is negative but you still are experiencing symptoms such as burning or pain, then a trip to the doctor is in order too.

The at home pregnancy test is reliable to confirm pregnancy but only if you have enough hCG in your urine. If you test too early before the hormone has built up enough in the urine you will get a false negative. The test is very good at determining true positives.

Both the Omega 3 test and the Vitamin D at home tests are really not at home in the truest sense of the word because both tests require you to mail off your test paper with a drop of blood on it for analysis.

Both tests are claimed to be over 95 percent accurate and the experts say that the tests are a little redundant and that careful attention to proper eating habits and prudent supplementation under a doctor’s supervision are better strategies. Eating fatty fish like salmon and getting out in the sun, or taking an approved supplement are likely better ways to spend your time and money.

There has been some controversy over some of the at home DNA testing kits and the FDA has taken a hard look at some of the companies offering such kits. You can still get genetic testing for disease risks but the tests must be ordered through your doctor and interpreted by a genetic counselor.

It makes sense to want to take an active interest in your own health. Diabetic people have been monitoring their blood sugars daily for years and this makes for a happy partnership between them, their doctor and their lifestyle.

I encourage you to take an active part in your own health by paying attention to your diet, your activity and your overall health status.

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Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., certified personal fitness trainer, certified nutritional adviser, certified behavior change specialist. janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-8119 cell/text, www.janerileyfitness.com