health

10 Home Health Tests That Can Save Your Life

These simple, cheap (or free) tests can change — and even save — your life. —By Grant Stoddard

Men used to be far more likely than women to put off a doctor’s visit in the event that they didn’t feel well. Although that’s changed over the past few decades, men are much less likely than women to visit the MD when nothing in particular is up. Thing is, feeling fine and being healthy are two very different things. You could go around “feeling fine” for years without realizing that all kinds of stuff is going haywire. Your best move is to get regular medical checkups. But in the event that you keep finding ways not to visit your doctor, we’ve compiled a list of ten life-changing — even life-saving — health tests that you can do at home at little or no expense to you. They're just a few of the scientifically proven 100 Ways to Live to 100!

1
Hearing

As Brian Johnson’s recent retirement from AC/DC illustrates, losing your hearing is a pisser. If Johnson had known about “the watch test” somewhere between 1980’s Back in Black and 1990’s The Razor’s Edge, he may have been able to help prevent the unthinkable: Axl Rose stepping up to the mic in his place. The watch test is extremely basic. Simply take a wristwatch with a second hand and go into a quiet room. Put a finger in one ear and hold the watch next to the other, gradually moving it away. If you can’t hear the ticking of the watch from a hand’s length away, it’s time to get a doctor’s opinion and, if you happen to be a member of a hard-rocking band, invest in some inconspicuous ear plugs.

2
Peripheral Artery Disease

Most people don't realize they have a blocked artery until they're headed toward the white light. Don’t be one of them. Evaluate whether you may have peripheral artery disease by lying down on a bed on your back and elevating both legs to a 45-degree angle. Then, hold them in that position for two minutes. If one or both feet become very pale, it could indicate poor blood flow because of blocked arteries. And don't stop there — try one of these 9 Heart Tests Better Than Cholesterol Count!

3
HIV

Of all the STD’s out there, this is still the one you don’t want the most. OraQuick, the first in-home oral HIV test approved by the FDA, allows you to take the HIV test anonymously and in private by swabbing your upper and lower gums with the test stick. You insert the device into a vial containing a developer solution, wait 20-40 minutes and read the test result. OraQuick retails for around $40 at most major pharmacy chains.

4
Hypothyroidism

Feeling fatigued? Gaining weight? It could be that you’re just getting old. On the other hand, it could be hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of several important hormones. There’s a home test for it. Sit down on a chair and cross one leg over the other so the calf is resting on the opposite knee. On your top leg, tap the Achilles tendon — the area just above the heel in the back of foot — with a spoon. The ankle should flex immediately. If there’s a delayed response, it may indicate hypothyroidism. Here’s another telling sign of underactive thyroid, according to Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., author of the best-selling book From Fatigued to Fantastic: the thinning of the outer third of your eyebrows.

And to ensure you're getting adequate rest every night, try these 10 Ways to Sleep Better Tonight — Guaranteed!

5
Prostate Cancer

If you're a man, you’ve got a 1-in-7 chance of being diagnosed with it in your lifetime. Early detection is the best way to ensure that you’re not one of the 1 in 39 men who succumb to the disease. Prostate problems can raise the level of PSA (prostate specific antigen) in the body, which can spill over into the bloodstream. This can be measured with a PSA blood test you can now do at home. One from DBS Diagnostics is sold on Amazon for $29.95. It boasts 99.97% accuracy, and results are reported and available securely online within 1-3 days. Give yourself some insurance against the Big C with these tips on How to Cancer-Proof Your Prostate.

6
Digestion issues

If you feel like you’ve got some tummy trouble, there’s a test for whether it may be serious — albeit an icky one. First, eat some corn and make a note of when you ate it. Then keep an eye out for it when it reappears at the other end. Because the body can’t digest the outer shell of the kernel, you can determine how long it and other food takes for food to route through your system. A delay in digestion could indicate irritable bowel syndrome and gastroenteritis. "It should take between 12 and 36 hours for food to pass from the mouth to the toilet," says Dr. Teitelbaum. If the transit time is much faster or slower, and you're having other symptoms such as abdominal pain, you should see a gastroenterologist.

7
Elevated Cholesterol

About a third of Americans have elevated cholesterol levels. Many of these are unaware of this and that they're at risk for heart disease, but by using a home cholesterol test kit, you can now conveniently understand your diagnostic levels and risk for cholesterol-related heart disease. One of the advantages of doing this test at home is that you have to fast for 12 hours before having blood drawn for lipids, and that can put a wrench in your day if you can’t get appointment within an hour or two of waking. Amazon sells a variety of kits ranging starting in the $20 range.

8
Alzheimer’s

You can test this by drawing a picture of the face of a clock and putting in the numbers. In people who are developing Alzheimer’s disease, says Dr. Teitelbaum, these drawings often look strangely misshapen or with the numbers out of place. Don’t panic if this test is positive. "In many cases, the disease is not actually Alzheimer’s but something very treatable," he says. A visit to a neurologist can confirm or rule out the diagnosis. Start keeping your squash in shape early with these 13 Tips for a Sharper Brain!

9
Heart Irregularities

You’re five times more likely to have a stroke if you have an irregular heartbeat, also known as atrial fibrillation. You can test the rhythm of your heart, by holding out one of your hands with the palm facing upward. Then put the index and middle fingers of your other hand on the inside of your wrist at the base of your thumb so you can feel your pulse. Tap out the rhythm of your pulse with your foot for one minute.If you find that you are tapping regularly, like a ticking clock, you are OK. If your pulse rhythm is uneven however, you should follow up with your healthcare provider.

10
Colorectal cancer

If you're over 50 — or you're having colon-cancer symptoms such as bleeding or pain — you should schedule a colonoscopy if you haven't already. But a newish at-home test can give you a heads-up you should have it urgently. The fecal immunochemical test can be taken in the privacy of your own bathroom and detects the presence of hidden blood in the stool within five minutes. The best-selling version on Amazon is available for $27. Just keep in mind that it's not a substitute for more sophisticated medical tests. If you haven't already, now's the time to start on an anti-cancer diet. Stock your kitchen with these 20 Amazing Healing Foods!

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