Online health tests

Give yourself a health check with these online resources.
 
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01.E-diagnosis

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We've selected online health tests from reputable sources to help determine your current health status and future health risks.

If you’re worried about some aspect of your health, ideally you’ll see your doctor about it. But what if you’re not sure – maybe there’s something wrong, maybe not? Or you think you’re perfectly healthy but want that confirmed?

There are many screening and diagnostic tests available on the internet, and also for mobile device apps. But as with all things on the internet, not everything is an accurate source of information (see our Guide to online health advice).

We’ve found some online tests from reputable sources which can provide a good starting point for any health concerns you have, or just checking everything’s OK.

Body mass index (BMI)

Website: Better Health Victoria BMI calculator
Assesses: Weight in proportion to height
You need: Weight (kg) and height (cm)

BMI provides a guide to whether your weight is in the healthy range for your height, and is frequently used to assess risk for diseases such as heart disease. However, it has it's limitations, and the body fat and waist-to-height ratio calculators below provide a better indication of health risk issues.

Body fat

Website: Fitness calculators
Assesses: Approximate percentage of body fat relative to overall weight
You need: Waist, hip (women only) and neck circumference (cm), weight (kg) and height (cm)

Having too much or too little body fat can be bad for your health. BMI (above) is a starting point for identifying potential overweight, but doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle mass. This means people with a lot of muscle, such as athletes, may be heavier than someone of a similar size but with higher levels of fat, and fall in the “overweight” range. Other people, such as older people who tend to lose muscle tissue and gain fat as they age, may be in the “healthy” range, though they have too-high levels of body fat.

But measuring body fat accurately isn’t easy, and isn’t cheap either. This calculator is used by the US military and is considered accurate to within one to three per cent for most people. We tried it out on three staff members who also underwent bioelectrical impedance analysis, and found the results were very close.

Waist-to-height ratio

Website: Health-calc
Assesses: Waist circumference as a proportion of height.
You need: Waist circumference (cm) and height (cm)

Beer guts and love handles are a sign of excess abdominal fat. There are two main types of fat: subcutaneous, which is the layer fat below the skin and feels soft and squishy; and visceral, which is fat found deeper in the abdomen, below the abdominal muscles and padding our abdominal organs (which is why some beer guts feel hard when prodded). Visceral fat is the more dangerous of the two because it affects metabolic and hormonal processes, and can increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease, as well as breast cancer for women.

Waist circumference is often used as a guide to increased risk of chronic diseases, but this little calculator takes your height into consideration for a slightly better risk estimate, especially for people who are a lot taller or shorter than average.

How to measure your waist

Many diseases are linked with excess abdominal fat, which can be indicated by your waist circumference. But where’s the waist? For those blessed with an hourglass figure it’s straightforward. Otherwise it’s above the hip bone, approximately level with the navel. Another way to work it out is to bend sideways – the crease that’s formed at the bend is where your waist is. Make sure the tape is level and firm against the skin, but not digging into it, and don’t hold your breath. 

Your disease risk

Website: Siteman Cancer Centre
Assesses: Risks of 12 different types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and stroke<
You need: Your weight and height
Desirable: Cholesterol (total and HDL) in mg/dL (most countries, including Australia, use mmol per litre, but you can convert to mg/dL by dividing the number given in mmol/L by 0.0259)

Developed by the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention, Your Disease Risk not only shows your risk of various lifestyle-related conditions relative to others of your age and gender, but demonstrates key changes you can make to reduce risk and pats you on the back for what you’re doing right.

Diabetes risk

Website: AusDrisk
Assesses: Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes within the next five years
You need: Waist circumference (in cm)

Caught in the early stages, the effects of type 2 diabetes on the cardiovascular system can be reduced or even prevented with appropriate management – diet, lifestyle and medication. However, many people aren’t diagnosed until the disease has taken hold.

The AusDRisk assessment tool, developed by the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, can estimate your risk based on demographics, waist measurements and lifestyle. This tool accounts for different risks among ethnicities common in Australia, unlike overseas tools (such as Your Disease Risk, above). If this risk assessment determines you’re at a high risk of type 2 diabetes, it’s recommended you see your doctor for follow-up tests – sooner rather than later.

Life expectancy

Website: ExRx.net
Assesses: approximate life expectancy
You need: blood pressure, cholesterol (convert from mmol/L to mg/dL by dividing the number given in mmol/L by 0.0259) and waist and hip measurements to determine waist:hip ratio

Are you blessed with genes for good health and longevity? Is your lifestyle helping or hindering your chances of getting that 100th birthday telegram from the queen (or king, or president, as the case may be)? There are quite a few life expectancy calculators online, some more comprehensive than others. But any that take lifestyle into account, rather than simple demographics, give fairly similar results. This one is nice because it’s all on one page and you can tweak the answers (improve your lifestyle!) and see instantly what difference it makes.

Depression and anxiety

Website: Beyond Blue
Assesses: Symptoms associated with various forms of anxiety and depression

It’s estimated that about 20% of adults are affected by some form of mental disorder every year, including anxiety disorders (which affect around 14% of the adult population each year) and depression (about six per cent).

Beyondblue is a joint state and federal government initiative working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia. The Beyondblue website provides checklists of symptoms for anxiety (including generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and phobias), depression, postnatal depression and bipolar disorder under the Symptoms Checklists tab. It’s not a diagnostic tool, but if you answer “yes” to certain questions, they suggest you see your doctor about it.

Alcohol consumption patterns

Website: Beat Alcohol
Assesses: Problem drinking

Are you drinking too much? A recent survey of Australians found most people overestimated the number of drinks considered low-risk for short- and long-term harms, which could lead to risky drinking. This short Australian questionnaire can be used to identify problem drinking, so you can seek help if necessary.

 
 

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