By Dr. Iziaq Kunle Salako
One of the common refrains often put up by people as the defence
mechanism when they are advised to do regular medical check-ups, even
when there are no apparent health challenges is to say that what they
don’t know will not kill them. How wrong they are! Though death is
inevitable for all, in reality, what you don’t know kills more quickly,
more mercilessly and more ruthlessly than what you know.
Most of us know our phone numbers and that of our spouse(s),
girlfriend(s) or boyfriend(s). We know our account numbers, BVN,
passport number, vehicles number and so many others. Yet, we don’t know
our blood pressure reading. This is a reading that can become a major
creator of irreversible disabilities and premature death if it is high
and left unattended. The truth is, if you cannot reel out your latest
blood pressure reading (maximum 3 months old), you may be a time bomb
waiting to explode.
How about your blood sugar diagnostic of diabetes mellitus? Diabetes
Mellitus is one of the most multi-systemic and debilitating diseases
known to man or your blood cholesterol, which is a good index of what
stresses your engine; the heart may be going through or your basic
metabolic index (BMI), a good reflection of your physical fitness.
Do you know your HIV, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted
infections’ status? These are diseases that are often in the body,
silent, symptom less but steadily eating away the life of its host,
making you risk to others including your loved ones.
As a man over 40, what is the state of your prostate gland? A
structure at the neck of the bladder that is often afflicted by cancer,
known to spread to the nervous system causing paralysis? What about your
intestines, liver, lungs and other major body organs that can be sites
of pathologies? These may not be immediately obvious except you make a
deliberate effort to check.
As a woman, how healthy is your breast? That beautiful adornment is
known to sometimes become a source of pain, suffering and premature
death. How about your cervix, ovaries, womb and such other structures
that define your womanhood but can also harbour silent killers?
In addition to not knowing our vital numbers, many often claim to be
bereft of time. Time to do physical exercise and improve our general
well-being, time to go on vacation and replenish, time to eat and
properly chew homemade healthy mealtime to meditate and refocus
ourselves psychologically. Some of us can’t even create adequate time
for sleep and rest as we live our lives under constant race of meeting
When we create time to visit clubs and supposed relaxation arena, the
drive is often for business links and at weekends, we are almost always
at social parties putting up appearances largely just to be socially
correct. We resort to excessive alcohol to calm our nerves while some
take to cigarette smoking or recreational drug becoming addicted and
opening the door of their heart killers.
In the final analysis, our lifestyles and our health seeking
behaviour are critical to determining the illnesses we suffer, the
severity of such an illness when it is discovered and the prospect of a
cure or control to ensure optimal functionality for daily living. In
most instances, prevention is possible when we adopt the right
lifestyles and do not necessarily wait for illness to strike before we
With the advancement that has been made in medicine and health
science, many diseases have become preventable, controllable or curable
when we take proactive actions to practice positive health seeking
behaviour including lifestyle modifications and regular medical revision
of our body system. HIV infection, Cancers, heart diseases are no
longer a sentence to an existence of chronic suffering or to death.
However, the choice always belongs to the individual to either take
action or play the ostrich and keep saying that what I don’t know cannot