t doesn't always take an elaborate imaging scan or expensive lab test to reveal a serious illness.
"There are simple tests that you can do yourself that can give you important clues about your health," Dr. Samuel Jacobson, M.D., a critical care specialist in Boca Raton, Fla., tells Newsmax Health.
Since these at-home tests can be done almost anytime and anywhere, they have the potential to uncover disease early. In some cases, this early warning can provide a treatment window that is lifesaving. See your doctor if any of these tests is positive.
An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) slows down your metabolism, leading to fatigue, weight gain, and other problems.
While sitting, cross one leg over the other so the calf is resting on the opposite knee. On the top leg, tap the Achilles tendon — the tissue just above the heel in the back of foot — sharply with a spoon. The ankle should flex immediately.
A delayed response may indicate hypothyroidism. Another telling sign of underactive thyroid: Check the outer third of your eyebrows. "If they have suddenly been thinning, this suggests an underactive thyroid," said Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., author of the best-selling book From Fatigued to Fantastic.
Eating corn can tell you how long it takes for food to pass through your system because the body can’t digest the outer shell of the kernel.
A delay in digestion could indicate irritable bowel syndrome and gastroenteritis.
"It should take between 12 and 36 hours for food to pass from the mouth to the toilet," says Dr. Teitelbaum. If the transit time is much faster or slower, and you are having other symptoms such as abdominal pain, you should see a gastroenterologist.
Draw a picture of the face of a clock, putting in the numbers. In people who are developing Alzheimer’s disease, says Dr. Teitelbaum, these drawings often look strangely misshapen or with the numbers out of place.
A visit to a neurologist can confirm or rule out the diagnosis. Do not panic if this test is positive. "In many cases, the disease is not actually Alzheimer’s but something very treatable," says Dr. Teitelbaum.
Peripheral Artery Disease
Restricted blood flow in the body caused by peripheral artery disease can be evaluated by lying down on a bed on your back and elevating both legs to a 45-degree angle. Hold them in that position for two minutes. If one or both feet become very pale, this may indicate poor blood flow due to blocked arteries.
A quick way to test your hearing is to take a wristwatch with a second hand and go into a quiet room. Put your finger in one ear and hold the watch next to the other, gradually moving it away. You should still be able to hear the ticking from the watch a hand’s length away.
An irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation, means you’re five times more likely to suffer a stroke.
To test the rhythm of your heart, hold out one of your hands with the palm facing upward. Then put the index and middle fingers of your other hand on the inside of your wrist at the base of your thumb so you can feel your pulse. Tap out the rhythm of your pulse with your foot for one minute.
If you find that you are tapping regularly, like a clock ticking, you are OK. If your pulse rhythm is uneven, you should follow up with your health care provider.
However, Dr. Teitelbaum says that an occasional irregular heartbeat is quite common.
"What you are actually looking for is irregularity that happens often," he explains.
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