With the rapid advances in technology and science that have been made in recent years, it should come as no surprise that many at-home tests that were once only accessible via a medical professional, can now be started from the comfort of your own home.
What kind of at-home tests are available over the counter?
There are so many different at-home tests available on the market including those that help measure important markers of your thyroid health, checking your testosterone levels, taking a vitamin D test or a DNA test.
How to use home at-home tests
Generally, the test kits involve you first registering your pack with the company supplying the product, before using the equipment provided – such as collection tubes, alcohol swabs, lancets, etc. – to take a saliva sample or blood sample.
This sample is then sent off in the supplied packaging to a UKAS accredited laboratory and you then just wait for the results.
General health check kits
While most home health check kits tend to look at one specific biomarker of health, there are general check-up kits available which give you a better overall idea of your current health status.
The test requires a simple finger prick blood test. Once the results have been analysed, you will get access to a doctor’s interpretation of the results, along with advice on what to do next.
If you do not like the idea of pricking your finger, another way to get a more rounded idea of your body’s health status is via a DNA test kit, which only requires a saliva sample.
A DNA home test can give you a wide range of biological information, from sleep to stress to mental health, gut health and vital clues about your dietary needs.
Vitamin D test
What is Vitamin D and why is it so important?
Sources of Vitamin D include food like oily fish, red meat and eggs. However, our main source is sunlight.
Also known as the “sunshine vitamin” Vitamin D is essential for maintenance of normal teeth and bones.
During the recent Covid-19 pandemic, the NHS recommended that adults take 10 micrograms per day of Vitamin D via a supplement.
Those at naturally higher risk of low Vitamin D levels include:
those with darker skin
anyone who stays indoors a lot
anyone living in a country that does not have year-round sunshine
A simple blood sample can tell you whether you might need a top-up with a Vitamin D supplement.
Testosterone is a hormone which is found in humans and other animals. Both women and men have testosterone, although women have much smaller amounts compared to men.
In men, testosterone is made by the testicles.
Testosterone increases significantly during puberty and then starts to decline around the age of 30.
If you are struggling to gain muscle mass or have a low libido, it could be due to declining testosterone.
The thyroid is an important gland, situated in the neck. It is the shape of a butterfly and is positioned just in front of the windpipe.
One of the main functions of the thyroid is to produce hormones within the body called triiodothyronine and thyroxine. These hormones help to regulate the body’s metabolism.
The metabolism is a chemical process which your body uses to function, including the breakdown of your food and drink and converting it into energy.
An overactive thyroid is where the thyroid produces too much of the thyroid hormones. It can affect both men and women but it is 10 times more common in women.
Symptoms of an overactive thyroid include nervousness and anxiety, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, tiredness, heat sensitivity, heart palpitations and weight loss.
An underactive thyroid is where the thyroid does not produce enough of the thyroid hormones.
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid include tiredness, sensitivity to cold, weight gain, constipation, depression, muscle aches, dry skin, brittle hair and nails, loss of libido and irregular periods.
Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient. It helps to support the normal formation of blood cells, as well as the normal function of the immune system.
Vitamin B12 is found in fish, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Beef in particular is one of the best sources of vitamin B12.
Vegan sources of vitamin B12 include fortified breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast.
Low levels of vitamin B12 in the body can lead to fatigue, difficulty focussing and concentrating and poor memory function.