As a student, you’re most probably young, fit and healthy. This doesn’t mean you can ignore your health, however. Most lifestyle diseases, like diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, can be prevented, and many cancers can be caught early with screening tests.
Schedule an appointment with your institution’s student health services to discuss which tests and screenings you need to have done. Most people should do the following:
Blood pressure test
A normal blood pressure reading is lower than 120/80. If you test at 140/90, discuss treatment with your doctor or nurse – you may be suffering from hypertension, severe stress, or some other health problem.
If you have high blood pressure, get tested for diabetes. You will usually have to do a glucose tolerance test, where you fast for 12 hours before the test (so make sure you eat enough before you start fasting!)
Get your cholesterol level tested regularly if you are at increased risk for heart disease. Ask your doctor or nurse how often you need your cholesterol tested. A cholesterol test may also require that you fast for a specific period beforehand.
HIV and STI screening
If you’re sexually active, you should always practise safe sex and get tested regularly for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and the human papilloma virus (HPV).
Breast cancer screening
Learn how to do your own breast examination.
Cervical cancer screening (women)
Get a pap smear every year from the first year that you are sexually active.
Before you go to the health centre, prepare for your appointment by finding out if you have a family history of the following: heart disease, breast cancer and diabetes.