5 Medical Tests That Aren’t Actually Necessary

5 Medical Tests That Aren’t Actually Necessary

In a bid to stay healthy and live longer, most of us schedule frequent doctor visits to make sure our body is in great condition. Staying vigilant about your health is important to catch diseases early and treat them. However, some of us may go overboard and take unnecessary tests without knowing their repercussions. Knowing which tests to take in moderation might actually be better for your health (and your savings). These five common medical tests aren’t for everyone, so know when you actually need them.

1. PAP Smears

PAP Smears Depend On your Age

Most women get PAP smears every year (sometimes even twice a year) to catch cervical cancer in its early stages. However, cervical cancer develops very slowly and usually takes about 10 to 20 years to actually spread. So if you tested negative at your previous annual PAP smear test, then you probably won’t need to take another soon. The general recommendation is that women who are between the ages 30 to 65 should get PAP smears done only once in every three years. If you’re over 65 and have tested negative for cervical cancer three times in the past ten years, then you don’t need to take these tests at all anymore. A hysterectomy also eliminates the chances of you developing cervical cancer, so if you’ve had one, a PAP smear is completely unnecessary.

2. Bone Density Tests

Only Women Above 65 Need Bone Density Tests

Osteoporosis is a very real concern for women, so it’s natural you want to schedule frequent bone density exams. However, it’s important to understand at what age you actually develop a risk for having low bone density. Osteoporosis is common only in women above 65 years of age, so if you’re younger than that, you don’t need to test for it very often. It is also a result of several unhealthy lifestyle factors like smoking, deficiency in vitamin D, being underweight and high alcohol consumption. So instead of focusing on just testing for low bone density, adopt a healthy lifestyle to lower your risk of developing it at all.

3. PET-CT Scan

You Don't Need This If You Don't Already Have Cancer

PET-CT scans are important for people who have cancer to find out just how much it has spread. However, if you don’t have cancer but take these scans frequently to be on the lookout, they aren’t very effective. The chances of a PET scan actually detecting cancer in a person who is otherwise healthy and has no symptoms, is as low as 1%. In fact, frequent PET-CT scans could actually put you at a higher risk for cancer because of the radiation involved. Exposure to radiation during one screening is very low and unlikely to affect you. But radiation damage is cumulative, so the more PET-CTs you take, the more dangerous it becomes for you. However, if you’re a heavy smoker and are above the age of 55, then routine PET-CTs may be useful in detecting cancer early.

4. Pain Imaging Tests For Back Pain

Back Pain Usually Goes Away On Its Own

If you’re experiencing pain in your lower back region, you might request for an MRI or X-ray to detect its source. However, this is probably not the best idea. When it comes to lower back pain, less is more as they usually go away on their own in about a month. MRIs and X-rays scans might reveal abnormalities in your body which doctors might attribute to your pain, but these are usually seen even in people with no back pain. Because of this, you might be subjected to unnecessary medication and painful surgical procedures that actually worsen your pain. MRIs and X-rays also increase your radiation exposure, so frequently undergoing them might indirectly put you at a risk for cancer. However, if you’re experiencing back pain along with a high fever, weight loss, incontinence and weakness in your legs, it is advisable you take pain imaging scans.

5. Bi-Annual Dental Screenings

Let Your Dentist Tell You How Often You Need To Come In

It’s commonly accepted knowledge that you need to visit your dentist every six months. However, this isn’t a universal rule. Depending on your specific history, you might need to visit them more often or not as frequently. If you’re prone to faster plaque buildup, then you will need to visit your dentist more frequently to get it cleaned up. However, if you maintain good oral hygiene and have healthy sparkling whites, you can probably put off your next dental visit a little longer. To know exactly how often you need to visit the dentist, talk to him/her and work out a plan.

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