Do you want a quick medical diagnosis? You might consider taking an over-the-counter test. Which ones give you the best results? Let’s look at a few – including whether they’re worth it – or just a waste of money. This comes from Rodale Publishing:
First, the tests that aren’t worth the money:
- An at-home cholesterol test. It’s a $20 device that looks like a thermometer. It scans a drop of your blood and displays your total cholesterol number within 15 minutes. Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist at NYU, says the test isn’t worth it. She says getting a good result could give you a false sense of security, because even if you have high levels of HDL – the good cholesterol, if your bad LDL cholesterol is elevated, you’re still at risk for heart disease.
- The next do-it-yourselfer that isn’t worth the money: A test for allergies. For $50 you can buy a kit online and send in a blood sample, which will be scanned for reactions to 10 common environmental and food allergens. Dr. Neeti Gupta is an allergist at the Mercer Allergy and Asthma Center in New Jersey. She says the do-it-yourself kit for food allergies carry a high risk of false positives. She also points out that skin tests are the best way to diagnose environmental allergies. So don’t waste your money.
Now, here are two at-home tests that are good:
- The HIV Test. You order the $44 kit online and call to set up an anonymous account. Then you mail in your dime-size blood sample. Your results will be posted in 10 days, and they offer access to counseling if you find out you’re HIV Positive. The experts say it's basically the same FDA-approved HIV test you'd get at a doctor's office.
- Then there’s the do-it-yourself urinary tract infection test. The $11 dipstick screens for two signs: Infection-fighting white blood cells, and nitrite, a chemical produced by bacteria. Dr. Andrew Kaunitz is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. He says the test is safe if you’re healthy and not pregnant. If the results are positive, call your doctor for a prescription for antibiotics.