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Testing, Testing

Scheduling preventative action

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Testing, Testing

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) use naturopathic and conventional diagnostic tools when treating patients. As primary care practitioners, they perform physical exams, Pap smears, and diagnostic lab tests and refer patients to specialists as required.

Naturopathic doctors (NDs) use naturopathic and conventional diagnostic tools when treating patients. As primary care practitioners, they perform physical exams, Pap smears, and diagnostic lab tests and refer patients to specialists as required.

However, NDs combine conventional treatments with alternative treatments such as diet, exercise, and lifestyle modification.

Conventional wisdom

In conventional medicine, the annual physical has given way to the periodic health exam. What your health care practitioner means by periodic depends on your age and gender; intervals between preventive medical tests decrease as age increases.

Ask your health care practitioner to follow the testing schedule recommended in the Preventive Care Checklist Form©—endorsed by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Physicians who used the checklist in a trial provided almost 50 percent more recommended preventive tests than those who did not use it.

If your health care practitioner doesn’t know about the checklist, print off a copy from the For Your Practice page of the College’s website (cfpc.ca) and take it along to your next exam.

Naturopathic testing
Naturopaths also perform a variety of tests on an as-needed basis. Here’s a sample:

TestPurposeType of test
Allergy testing / immunology to identify food allergies (e.g. Celiac disease testing) and environmental allergies such as mold or pet danderblood
Digestive testing / gastrointestinalto analyze digestion, absorption, bacterial balance, yeast, and parasites that indicate disturbances of the gastrointestinal tractdepending on what is tested— stool, urine, breath, or blood
Hormone testing / endocrinologyto analyze hormone levels that adversely affect adrenal function, libido, menopause, thyroid function, insulin resistance, etc.depending on what is tested—blood, urine, or saliva
Nutritionalto identify nutrient insufficiencies that may cause chronic fatigue, depression, learning disabilities, immune problems, etc.depending on what is tested—blood, urine, or hair
Toxic/heavy metalto identify and measure toxic levels of elements such as mercury, lead, and aluminum that cause heavy metal toxicitydepending on what is tested—blood, urine, or hair

Tests for adult women of average risk

TestDiseaseAgeFrequency
Mammographybreast cancer50 to 69every 1 to 2 years
Hemoccult multiphase test or sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopycolorectal cancer50every 1 to 2 years
Pap smearcervical cancer18 (or after sexual initiation) until 69after 2 normal smears, screen every 3 years
Screening for sexually transmitted infectionsgonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, hepatitis Bhigh-risk individuals of all ageswith every new, unprotected sexual encounter
Fasting blood glucosetype 2 diabetes40 or sooner if at riskevery 3 years
Bone mineral density testosteoporosis65 or sooner if at risk

every 2 to 3 years if normal

every 1 to 2 years if abnormal

What about HPV testing?

The human papilloma virus is the main cause of cervical cancer, but researchers are still trying to determine whether testing for the virus is better than the Pap test, which analyzes cellular changes in the cervix and is accurate 95 percent of the time.

Tests for adult men of average risk

TestDiseaseAgeFrequency
Hemoccult multiphase test or sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopycolorectal cancer50every 1 to 2 years
Screening for sexually transmitted infectionsgonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, hepatitis Bhigh-risk individuals of all ageswith every new, unprotected sexual encounter
Fasting blood glucosetype 2 diabetes40 or sooner if at riskevery 3 years
Bone mineral density testosteoporosis65 or sooner if at risk

every 2 to 3 years if normal

every 1 to 2 years if abnormal

What about prostate tests?

Prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing can identify prostate cancer at an earlier stage, but according to the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, the test may generate false positives, meaning cancer may be indicated where there is none. Monitoring symptoms of prostate cancer is better prevention, says the Canadian Cancer Society.

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