As we come into the peak of winter, more people are staying home due to quarantine or poor 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 personally check for any signs of problems from the comfort of your own home. 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. While these exams are best accompanied by checkups and a doctor’s guidance, here are three self exams you can do to keep up with how your body is functioning.
Arguably the most important self-exam a woman can do, the breast exam is also one of the most commonly talked about for 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.
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 around the entire breast, even up to the armpits, and check for any lumps or hard areas. Additionally, check and squeeze the nipple area for any sort of discharge. Giving yourself a self exam will allow you to become familiar with how your breasts look and feel, making it easier to notice any abnormalities.
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 forms of skin cancer pose a much more serious 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 especially important to keep an eye out for spots and moles as you evaluate them against the ABCDE characteristics.
While your mouth and teeth are absolutely essential for living, it’s easy to justify skipping a night of brushing or flossing. Dental and oral health can often be overlooked when it comes to your physical wellbeing, but teeth are very expensive 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 taking a good look around the inside of your mouth. Then, feel around the gums, lips, and roof of your mouth for any lumps, sores, or persistent bleeding, which can indicate 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 make a decision to get medical assistance when you need it.