Five reasons why you should get tested

Because 70% of medical decisions rely on pathology, getting tested is a vital part of diagnosis and treatment. But when should you get tested? This changes depending on the medical condition – some will exhibit obvious symptoms, while other may not. In almost all cases, an early diagnosis is best.

Here are five reasons why it might be worth talking to your healthcare professional about getting tested.

Family history

One of the first questions doctors will ask about you for certain conditions, particularly some cancers, is if there is an existing family history of the condition. Family history does not mean you have or will definitely contract a certain condition, however, it can be an indicator of higher risks, which suggest that further investigation may be needed

‘Having the same condition in multiple family members can be cause for concern, as it means there may be a genetic connection. Therefore, being related to them could mean you may be at risk of carrying the same genetic change,’ says Dr Melody Caramins, the National Director of Genomics at Primary Healthcare.

Ethnicity

Ethnicity is slightly different to family history but does heavily overlap. It can be surprising to know that certain ethnicities are more likely to have certain conditions.

For example, sickle cell disease is more common in people of African, African American, or Mediterranean heritage while Tay-Sachs disease is more likely to occur among people of Jewish or French-Canadian ancestry.* Being aware of the ethnicity of direct family members (parents and grandparents) can be useful information.

‘A person’s ethnic background can tell us what they may be at higher risk for – even if there isn’t any family history for the condition – because ethnic groups share higher proportions of similar genetic material. However, it should be noted that that doesn’t mean other ethnicities cannot get those same conditions,’ says Dr Caramins

Symptoms

The most obvious reason to go get any medical test is if you are exhibiting symptoms. You know your body better than anyone, so if something doesn’t seem right, it’s definitely worth going to your doctor for a check-up – which may include a blood test, a saliva swab or a tissue sample to discern more information.

Exposure

‘There’s a bug going around’ is something that everyone has either heard or said at some point. With so many infectious conditions – some as common as the cold, flu or STIs, to more life-threatening conditions such as Hepatitis and HIV – it can be hard to keep track of what is contagious and how it is spread. It’s important to get tested if you have been exposed to an area or person with an infectious condition, even if you are not showing any symptoms.

Lifestyle factors

Some people like to eat too much sugar or fried foods. Some people are smokers and some don’t do enough exercise. Some get too much sleep, while others too little. These lifestyle factors can all impact your health.

The habits we have can increase our risk of developing certain health conditions. While lifestyle factors are things that you can change, if you’ve had those habits for years, even decades, it would be worth being tested.

* https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/inheritance/ethnicgroup