The experts Thomas Kurscheid and Gerd Wirtz explain why our body signals are not always good advice on preventive care and which examinations should definitely be carried out regularly. In her podcast “Healthy
How often do you take your car to the workshop? Quite possibly once a year for the major inspection, right? They have the engine, transmission, clutch and exhaust system checked, the workshop employees check whether all the lines are tight and determine the condition of the V-belt and toothed belt as well as the glow or spark plugs. In short: your car is important to you and it is a matter of course for you to have it checked regularly.
And now, honestly, when was the last time you had yourself examined as thoroughly as your car? Does the answer to this question require you to think a little longer?
Or do you even believe that this is not necessary because your body already tells you when something is wrong? You are not alone in this. Most people fall for this fallacy.
But the truth is: Our body’s early warning system is extremely bad. Only in the rarest of cases do we perceive such signals in good time – and interpret them accordingly. We don’t always realize when we have diabetes, when cholesterol levels are too high, or when a tumor is growing in our body. If we have serious complaints that can hardly be ignored, the disease is often far advanced. In the worst case, the consequences are an earlier death – or at least the deterioration of our quality of life.
It is therefore important that we supplement our internal early warning system, which does not work particularly well, with an external one. This means that you should have regular check-ups with your doctor. Prevention is particularly important if you have a family history, for example if both parents suffer from diabetes.
But not only then. It has been proven that early detection examinations reduce the risk (e.g. of dying from cancer) by up to 60 percent. This is not the only reason why all those with statutory health insurance from the age of 35 are entitled to a check-up every three years and access to early cancer detection examinations. Anyone of legal age can have a preventive examination between the ages of 18 and 35. For those with private health insurance, a check-up is also possible more frequently and in more detail overall, which makes sense from a medical point of view.
However, too few people take advantage of these opportunities. According to a study by the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy from 2022, there were around ten million people among the German-speaking population aged 14 and over who never go to preventive care.
The practice check: With the help of certain technical devices, you can also monitor your state of health yourself in addition to the regular check-ups. This is done, for example, by sleep sensors that are placed under the mattress. These sensors can be used to detect dangerous breathing pauses at night and they also provide information about the different sleep phases and measure the nocturnal heart rate (e.g. from Withings), fitness bracelets (e.g. Apple or Garmin) or rings worn on the fingers (e.g. Oura) provide information about sleep, daily form and activity and thus serve as an early warning system.
The individual products have very different functions and you should consult your doctor as to which measured values are particularly important for your personal situation. An important helper is also a body analysis scale, which not only determines the weight, but also the body fat, water and muscle percentage (e.g. Tanita). Irregularities such as a sudden change in weight or body composition are important signals. At the latest, you should take such a warning as an opportunity to see your family doctor.
So that you don’t forget check-ups, simply let yourself be reminded, for example with the help of appropriate apps. Doctors can also send you letters, SMS or e-mails on request, so that you never miss a check-up again.
This article was written by Prof. Dr. Thomas Kurscheid and Dr. Gerard Wirtz
Prof. Dr. Thomas Kurscheid is a specialist in general medicine and a nutritionist and sports doctor with his own practice in Cologne. His specialty is preventive medicine.
dr Gerd Wirtz is a neurophysiologist, medical moderator and digital health expert. His specialty is future medicine.
Together with longevity doctor Dr. dr Dominik showerer give Kurscheid
Link to the podcast “Healthy