Ask Our Drs: What Tests Do I Need?

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Are you one of those people who puts off going to the doctor because you’re not sick and feel healthy? Maybe you think I don’t have any pains, so why should I go? Think again. Prevention and early detection can save your life, and The Doctors outlines which tests each member of your family should have.

Gestational Diabetes
One of the most important tests a pregnant woman should have is for gestational diabetes, a condition in which women either aren’t producing enough insulin or develop a resistance to insulin. Gestational diabetes develops in up to 10 percent of expecting women, and the test is performed at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.

When a woman is pregnant, the placenta develops to supply essential nutrients to the baby. The placenta also produces several hormones that are needed to sustain pregnancy, some of which will interfere with the mother’s ability to metabolize glucose, or sugar. Glucose is metabolized with insulin, and during pregnancy, a woman will need up to three times as much insulin to control her glucose levels.

“Pregnancy causes an insulin resistance, because [the body] wants to maximize the sugar that’s in the blood so that more can go to the baby,” OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson explains.

A woman has an increased chance of developing gestational diabetes if she:
a) Had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy
b) Previously gave birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
c) Is overweight
d) Is 25 years of age or younger

“It all comes down to decreasing your risk with diet and lifestyle, which is how we deal with diabetes,” Dr. Lisa says.

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Pediatric Exams
Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears demonstrates how the following tests are performed, and recommends they be performed annually.
• Blood pressure
• Height and weight
Body mass index
• Scoliosis
• Anemia

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve in the eye and can cause blindness. When too much fluid builds up inside of the eye, the subsequent pressure on the optic nerve can cause permanent damage.

“Everyone over [age] 50 is at risk for glaucoma,” ophthalmologist Dr. David Granet says. “And anybody under 50 who has a family history [of the disease], or is African American or Latino, you need to get checked as well.”

Dr. Granet demonstrates how glaucoma tests are performed and stresses the importance of regular screenings. “About four million people in the United States have glaucoma, and only two million of them know it,” he cautions.

Dental Exams
Cosmetic dentist Dr. Bill Dorfman demonstrates how the following dental tests are performed and recommends they be done annually.
• Oral cancer screening
• Bone loss and gum recession
• Disclosing tablets, which are used to show a patient where he or she might have residual plaque after brushing

Pet Physicals

“It’s important for people to realize that dogs and cats, just like humans, need routine medical care,” veterinarian Dr. Ruth MacPete explains. “It should definitely be done yearly in younger animals and twice yearly in older animals.”

Dr. MacPete demonstrates how a pet physical is performed.

A routine pet physical entails checking:
• Weight
• Heart rate
• Health of skin
• Ears for infection
• Mouth for dental disease
• Abdomen for any masses or abnormalities
• Blood panel to screen for diabetes, kidney or thyroid disease, viruses or infection

Vet Tip: Keep Your Kitty Lean
“Obesity is a problem in dogs and cats, just like it is in humans,” Dr. MacPete says. To combat the problem, keep your cats moving! Dr. MacPete recommends:

1. Encourage active play
2. Use active play toys
3. Put food bowls and water on a counter so that your cat will have to jump up to get to it
*Check with your veterinarian to be sure your cat is healthy enough to jump.

Do you have a question for the vet? Ask it here!

Thyroid Self-Test

Plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon and E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork demonstrates how to perform a self-test on your thyroid to detect growths or abnormalities.

Learn more about the thyroid.

Essential Tests for Women

Dr. Lisa recommends that women should have the following tests performed once a year:
Pap smear
Sexually transmitted diseases
Bone density
Heart disease

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OAD 12/1/10