The winter months bring many challenges as far as our health is concerned: we’re more susceptible to colds and flu; we suffer more aches and pains; our mood can darken with the days and we’re much more likely to suffer a heart attack in winter than during the summer months. But while the season can play a part in our malaise, sometimes there is more behind it than just the cold weather - and this is where three essential winter blood tests can help give insights into why we might feel the way we do.
As the nights draw in and the party season arrives, for many of us, life is a combination of hunkering down under the duvet with mac’n’cheese one minute and enjoying one too many glasses of wine the next. And it’s our poor livers that bear the brunt of any excesses over the festive period. Too much alcohol and the wrong foods are the primary causes of liver disease outside of viral disease like hepatitis. Lots of people have raised liver enzymes after the festive season, indicating potential liver injury. Prolonged partying may lead to permanent scarring or cirrhosis, but give the liver a rest and its powers of recovery can be amazing. A simple Liver Check blood test will tell you whether you’ve been giving your liver a hard time this winter; the Medichecks Liver Check measures key enzymes, which, if raised, indicate that your liver needs a well-earned break. Most early stage liver disease has no symptoms, but if you’ve been partying hard and piling on the pounds with carb-laden comfort food, then we would recommend you check-out your liver enzymes with a comprehensive Liver Check.
Cold weather often brings with it dry and itchy skin and dull and lifeless hair, and it is too easy to put this down to the weather and the drying effects due to living in centrally heated homes. But these are both symptoms of an underactive thyroid, a condition which often goes undiagnosed because its symptoms are very general and can just be put down to the time of year, or even the time of life; many people put their symptoms down to just getting older. It is easy to see how an underactive thyroid might be overlooked in the winter months: you struggle to keep warm; you put on weight; you feel tired and lethargic and yes, your skin and hair is dry. A simple Medichecks Thyroid Check blood test will tell you whether your thyroid is functioning normally, or whether your symptoms are due to an underactive thyroid. The condition is especially common amongst women, affecting almost 3% of the population, so don’t let your symptoms go unchecked.
We’ve known for years that vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, vital minerals for the strength of our bones, but in recent years a growing number of studies have pointed to its role in other areas of our health. It is thought that lack of vitamin D can affect mood, the immune system (auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, are more common the further north you go) as well as heart health and even cancer. Vitamin D is created in the body by the effect of sunshine on our skin and is the reason why people in the northern hemisphere have lighter skins; it enables them to absorb more sunshine. As our days darken and shorten it is extremely difficult to get sufficient vitamin D, and by December, many of us won’t have enough of it for optimum health. The only way to tell if you are getting enough vitamin D is with a blood test, which is why, every winter, our Medichecks Vitamin D Check is one of our top-selling tests.
There is no reason for the winter months to affect our well-being, so if you are worried about your liver, your thyroid or your vitamin D levels, then take one of our affordable and convenient essential winter blood tests.