Do you ever wonder about your own body? I spend hours at work each day CT scanning, drawing lab values and generally investigating the in’s and out’s of patient’s medical problems while largely ignoring myself. Fortunately, I am young, fit and generally in good health so illness doesn’t typically send me running to the nearest clinic. But, I’m often curious about my own lab values and risk factors. Recently, I’ve come across some at-home medical tests and have begun to do a little testing of my own.
The at-home medical testing market is booming. While some are against removing the traditional medical system from the equation and think individuals aren’t smart enough or responsible enough to interpret their own results, I embrace this movement full-on. Here are some at-home medical test you can do to help remain in good health, or simply to appease your curiosity.
I hate to say it, but I don’t really practice what I preach. I instruct my patients to get their cholesterol checked while my own personal levels remain a great mystery. Last month I solved this problem without stepping foot in a clinic, hospital or lab. No venipuncture for me.
Instead, I hopped online and purchased an at-home cholesterol testing kit. Once you buy the cholesterol testing device which runs about $125, you can test away at a low cost for life (or until the machine breaks…). The only problem with home cholesterol test devices is that they do not test LDL. So, if you’re planning on going the DIY route for lipid profiling, get a device that tests HDL and triglycerides. Then, you can calculate your LDL online.
I’m happy to report after my at home finger pricking experiment, I discovered my cholesterol levels are excellent validating my negligence in getting a yearly cholesterol test.
This at home test can only fall under the “for curiosity” category. In an effort to analyze the gut’s microbial contents, researchers for the American Gut Project are encouraging the general public to send in their own stool samples.
For $69, you can mail off your own feces receiving an analysis of the microbes living in your gut. Admittedly, although I think this sounds like an interesting experiment, I have not yet gathered the motivation to collect my own stool.
Companies are cropping up all over the internet offering low-cost genetic testing. Simply swab your cheek, send off the swab and within a few days you will know if you are at risk for a variety of genetic conditions like Tay-Sach’s disease. Concerned you may pass Maple Syrup Urine Disease to your children? For around $99, these tests can give you answers.
Have I participated in direct to consumer genetic testing? Nope. I can’t decide if I really want to know what future problems I face. Furthermore, geneticist Daniel MacArthur states “Genetics currently sucks at predicting what types of diseases will kill most people”. Maybe I carry a gene predisposing me to some horrible disease. Even so, I don’t want to waste my days worrying about what may never come.
Genetic tests may satisfy your curiosity but are not for the emotionally unprepared participant.
4. EKG from Your iPhone
You can go online and purchase a standard sized EKG machine for yourself. But, I’m guessing you don’t have the closet space to store it. Instead, if you are curious about your heart’s electrical activity, you can run a rhythm strip right from your iPhone.
To run an EKG, simply download the AliveCor’s Heart Monitor app to your iPhone. The catch? You do need a doctor’s prescription (prescribing apps is a new trend in medicine) to download the app so a visit to a medical provider will be necessary to initiate this at home testing trend.
My trainer used to check my body fat after my workout session each week. My body fat level proved much more helpful in keeping me healthy than my weight. Skip dinner and spend the calories downing three margaritas instead? Your scale might not notice, but your body fat levels certainly will fluctuate.
Even if you aren’t a workout fiend, this little tool, available for just $30 on Amazon, can be quite helpful in keeping your diet on track.
Whether you are trying to track your health or are just plain bored, the at-home medical testing craze is here. Techies are constantly designing new apps and devices making medical testing less expensive and more accessible. Bring it on!
Have you tried any at home or online medical tests? Share by commenting below!