What is in a simple check up?

When was the last time you went to the dentist for a check-up or paid a visit to the optician? Come to that, have you ever gone to a chiropodist to get your feet looked at?

Simple check-ups that take less than 30 minutes can help spot life-threatening diseases and problems far beyond plaque build-up, poor vision or that troublesome corn. Lifestyle takes a look.

The Eyes Have It

A woman was recently saved from a rare, life-threatening cancer after an optometrist picked up on the early signs.

It�s recommended that people with no eyesight problems should get their eyes checked every couple of years.

"All optometrists are trained to look out for injury and disease," says optometrist Rosie Gavzey. "For example, we can detect kidney disease, or an inflamed iris may indicate arthritis.

"You can also see problems like high blood pressure and also, although far less common, you might pick up on HIV," adds Gavzey of the Eyecare Trust.

"This may present itself as white, fluffy spots within the eyes. If the optic discs look swollen, this could indicate a brain tumour."

Loud Mouth

A visit to the dentist can do more than just fill a decaying tooth. "We can pick up on the early stages of oral cancer long before the patient feels anything wrong," says dentist Tom Pomeroy.

"There are also many different kinds of symptoms which can help us diagnose other problems such as herpetic ulcers, indicating a compromised immune system."

Gastrointestinal disorders, such as Crohn�s disease, could also be detected whilst in the dentist�s chair. This can be diagnosed in the mouth with symptoms such as swollen gums.

Adds Pomeroy: "Many diseases show up in the mouth � a migraine might be caused by teeth grinding, or oral thrush can be seen."

Foot Focus

Unless you�ve had a problem with your feet, you will have had little reason to see a chiropodist. Yet many signs of disease can be picked up in the feet.

Says Peter Graham, chair of The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists: "Diabetes impacts the foot. Signs include loss of sensation, infections or poor circulation. "Gout can also manifest in the feet with acute inflammation and pain.

"Osteoarthritis can be picked up in the feet," adds Graham. "Circulation problems can also be detected. If arteries in the heart are in poor shape, so, too, will be the arteries in the foot or leg."

Given that chiropodists can detect such serious disease, make sure you use one who is properly trained and is state-registered.

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Published Teletext Lifestyle 2002