It’s safe to say that many of us are a little more health-conscious than we were 12 months ago and for some, visiting a doctor or hospital may be a little bit more daunting than it was previously. With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that many people have tried to take an active interest in their health by ordering home health testing kits. There’s an endless list of things you can test for, from your DNA risk to certain diseases, vitamin, cholesterol or hormone levels, thyroid function, the list goes on. In this article, we’ll provide you with some useful insight into what to watch out for if you’re thinking about investing in an at-home health test.
Find a reputable company
With so many companies on the market right now offering home testing kits it’s worth making sure that the company you buy from is reputable. Many companies that offer lower risk self-testing kits evaluate the performance of their tests and therefore, although an independent notified body must review whether the test is appropriate for use, there is always room for bias. It’s also a good idea to watch out for language that isn’t specific like, ‘may help you to’, ‘can provide an indication of risk’ or see if they have stated the limitations of their tests anywhere on the website. Tests are expensive and misleading information can leave you potentially feeling anxious or worried unnecessarily.
Getting your results
It’s worth thinking about what you will do with your results when they come through too. Sometimes we are so focused on getting a test done that we haven’t thought about the result; it’s not always a straightforward answer. You might be suffering from uncomfortable symptoms and feel that doing a test will provide you with the answers you’re looking for, however, it’s worth considering how you might feel if you received a negative test and were unable to receive further answers. Often at-home testing kits test for single health metrics so it can be a costly road to venture down if you are looking for answers to your physical symptoms. Positive results can also provide mixed emotions, on the one hand, you might feel reassured that you can access any further investigations or treatment more easily, or you may now feel more anxious approaching your GP with a positive result of a specific condition. When going to your GP for health advice you usually receive your result, some advice and an appointment for any further treatment or investigation all at the same time. In my opinion, this is usually the best method and some at-home testing companies do offer a GP consultation as part of their package so it’s worth looking out for.
Sometimes they're difficult to do accurately
Home testing kits are marketed on how easy and quick they are to use but they’re not always that easy, nor that quick. Users have reported not being able to retrieve enough blood and without a professional, on hand, it’s easy to contaminate a sample or to not know if the equipment is damaged or broken. The other thing to note is that some tests need to be taken at a certain time of day and confusing this, or not being aware of this can skew your results. It can be frustrating if you’ve paid quite a lot of money for a test kit, have carefully followed the instructions and are anxiously awaiting results to receive an invalid result. It’s often easier to allow a professional to do the testing for you or to use a company with clear instructional videos or user support.
At-home health testing has come a long way and there are many companies now offering high-quality tests, GP advice and support pre and post result. If you’re unable to attend your regular GP, would like a simple test or would like to do a test before seeking medical advice from a healthcare professional then at-home testing can be a good option. If, however, you have symptoms that are worrying you, and you feel you may need treatment to resolve those then, nothing beats a GP appointment where you have professional advice every step of the way and further tests available to you. If you do decide to purchase an at-home testing kit always make sure the company is reputable, consider the limitations and weigh up the pros and cons before committing.