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Thriving In Life: Embracing Health & Wellness In Singapore

Dr. Derek Koh

Head, Health Screening at Thomson Wellth Clinic

MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (Singapore)

Dr. Derek Koh practises preventive medicine through tailored health screenings & wellness programmes including the management of Andropause, Menopause and Obesity. He is also Board Certified in Anti-Ageing; has attained his Fellowship with the American Board of Anti-Ageing.

Table of Contents

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Part 1: The Importance of Health & Wellness

In Singapore’s fast-paced society, many of us constantly push ourselves to excel in our careers and pursuits. Sadly, that often takes a toll on our health, with more Singaporeans complaining of lower energy, being more vulnerable to illnesses, as well as experiencing chronic stress. From neglecting regular health screenings in Singapore to leading a sedentary lifestyle of work and leisure, Singaporeans would greatly benefit from embracing healthier and vibrant lifestyles.

When we think of health, we frequently think of improving from a negative state back to the status quo, such as visiting a doctor or undergoing surgery to recover from illnesses or injuries. However, living in good health is much more than just avoiding illnesses, but taking a proactive step towards continually improving one’s health across multiple facets. This is where the concept of wellness comes into play.

According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness is defined as the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health. What this means is that wellness is an intentional and ongoing commitment to improving one’s life; be it from regular exercise routines recommended by sports injury specialists, to mental exercises that help calm one’s mood during stressful situations.

Wellness is a multi-faceted affair that includes not just physical health, but mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and environmental dimensions as well. These dimensions frequently overlap with one another, such as that of physical, mental, and social domains when Singaporeans come together to engage in simple exercises at a neighbourhood community centre.

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With the constant challenges that we face in life, it’s essential to face it in your best state, empowering you to not just survive, but thrive. Read on to learn about how you can embrace health and wellness regardless of your age – with help from regular health screenings in Singapore and an active lifestyle supported by quality sports medicine.

Part 2: Health Checkups & Screenings

Health checkups in Singapore are an essential part of safeguarding one’s health through early detection and prevention. This section covers what they test for, debunking various myths about them, as well as tips and advice when undergoing your first health checkup. 

2.1 An Introduction to Health Checkups

Broadly speaking, health checkups comprise a range of tests that are designed to detect early signs of disease in people. They can be considered under the umbrella of preventive medicine, just like vitamins and supplements one consumes to stay in good health, rather than taken to recover from illness. This links back to the concept of wellness, where the end goal is to stay healthy and thrive rather than respond to illnesses when they come.

Studies have shown that the 5 most common chronic conditions affecting Singaporeans are as follows:

  1. Diabetes Mellitus
  2. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
  3. High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia)
  4. Strokes
  5. Heart Attacks (Myocardial Infarction)

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What these conditions have in common is that they exhibit little, if any outward symptoms, but can all result in debilitating and life-threatening situations. More importantly, their underlying issues take time to build up in one’s body, and can affect Singaporeans of all ages – not just the middle-aged or those in poorer health. Generally, Singaporeans are recommended to go for a health checkup every one to three years; depending on which screening test is being conducted, as well as your doctor’s advice based on your overall health condition.

There are also various types of health screening tests for different groups of Singaporeans, ranging from general tests for adults of 18 years and older, specific tests for women which test for cervical and breast cancer, as well as tests for newborns to screen for the presence of hypothyroidism and hearing loss, amongst many others.

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Health screening tests in Singapore are generally classified under Type 1 and Type 2 categories, as well as a lesser used Type 3 category. These tests adhere to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines, which are frequently updated based on ongoing research and scientific evidence. This ensures that medical professionals are able to follow these guidelines as they recommend the most relevant screening tests for each patient.

Type 1 tests are suitable for population-level screening, and are ideal for adults 18 years and older. They cover a range of tests for high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, as well as for cervical cancer. Type 1 tests are considered essential, as the conditions they test for affect Singaporeans of all ages. As one ages past 40, it is also recommended to test for high blood cholesterol, colorectal cancer, as well as breast cancer for females.

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Type 2 tests are based on an individual-level basis, meaning that it is up to your doctor to consider your past history, before deciding if the test is appropriate for your needs. Generally, doctors will consider the cost-effectiveness of these tests, and will only recommend them to patients with a family history of genetic or chronic diseases, presenting existing medical conditions, or being exposed to risk factors such as smoking and drinking. Some examples of these health screening tests in Singapore measure for conditions that may affect pregnancy and possible abnormalities in the baby, along with osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, kidney disorders, as well as thyroid disorders.

Visit Thomson Wellth today to find out more about medical checkups in Singapore.

2.2 Debunking Myths About Health Checkups

Many myths surround the nature of health checkups, leading to misconceptions and a lower rate of people taking them. Consequently, many Singaporeans end up not realising that they may have a severe underlying condition until it is too late. In this section, we debunk some of the most common myths that people have.

Myth 1: People who feel fine generally do not require health screening.

Singaporeans often have busy schedules and demands, and many of us would prefer not to spend precious time on a weekend or after work to get a health checkup. However, as the saying ‘Prevention is better than cure’ goes, many chronic and potentially life-threatening illnesses can be present even in people who feel healthy, and going to regular health checkups is key to picking up these conditions before they reach the point of no return. 

Through a regular health screening routine, your doctors will be able to track your health across the years, and immediately flag any issues that arise. This empowers you to live with confidence and greatly increases your quality of life.

Myth 2: Health checkups are tedious and painful.

Most Singaporeans imagine health screening to be a painful and invasive affair, with uncomfortable prodding and poking across one’s body. In truth, experienced and caring doctors and nurses along with a relaxed atmosphere can help to alleviate anxiety and make the process virtually pain-free, aside from some discomfort that may arise from procedures such as withdrawing blood. 

In addition, getting a medical checkup in Singapore is a quick affair, usually taking up less than half a day in total. 

Myth 3: Health checkups are only for middle-aged and older people.

While many young people from 25 to 35 years of age may seemingly be at the peak of health, there have always been unfortunate cases of cancer or heart disease that led to premature death. In addition, many families carry a history of hereditary risk factors, ranging from diabetes to hypertension, which can still impact young people even if they have been leading healthy and active lifestyles.

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With the majority of the population edging towards white-collar jobs, Singaporeans are increasingly sedentary and reporting high levels of stress, which can lead to an earlier onset of chronic illnesses. This is why going for health screening is essential, even for younger people. Generally, the basic health screening package is sufficient for young people with no history of risk factors and who have been in good health, although one should consult with their doctor for their professional opinion.

Myth 4: Health checkups are expensive. 

Many budget-conscious Singaporeans are concerned that a health screening can be an expensive affair, particularly for elderly individuals who are encouraged to take a comprehensive screening due to being at a higher risk of chronic conditions. This can set them back a notable amount, which makes them have to compromise on their health. Thankfully, there is a range of health screening packages and prices to suit a variety of people, with some packages offering specific tests that may be more essential.

In addition, the government offers the Screen for Life programme through the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), helping eligible Singapore citizens gain access to affordable health checkups. Some health insurance companies also include discounted rates for checkups as part of their rewards programs, helping to lower costs and ensure that Singaporeans receive the healthcare they need.

2.3 Getting Your First Health Checkup

There are multiple types of health checkups that Singaporeans can choose from. At Thomson Wellth, you can choose from 4 types of packages: Basic, Wellness, Comprehensive, and Specialised. We also offer additional specialised services for both male and female patients, ranging from menopause and andropause management to osteoporosis screening.

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The Basic health screening package is ideal for a general overview of one’s health, measuring key health indicators such as blood count, sugar levels, urine analysis, as well as cholesterol levels. It has 3 levels of testing, depending on one’s preferences such as a more comprehensive blood profile screening, or for older patients with minimal personal and familial risk factors. 

The Wellness health screening package is a step up from the Basic package. It offers additional tests of one’s choice, ranging from treadmill ECG tests to ultrasound scans and bone mass density analysis. 

The Comprehensive health screening package is Thomson Wellth’s premium screening offering, specially aimed at detecting risk factors. Building upon the Wellness package, it includes additional ultrasound options, as well as the option for MRI/CT scans. 

Lastly, our Specialised checkups are targeted at diagnosing, treating, and managing health-related problems specific to men and women, such as screening for vitality in men as well as potential traits and infections that may affect pregnancy in women.

For first-timers undergoing a medical checkup in Singapore, here are some useful tips to take note of. If in doubt, do check in with your doctor and medical staff, who will guide you through the process.

  • Fast at least 10 hours prior to your health screening. Ideally, if your slot is in the morning, try to skip food and drinks after 10pm, while only drinking plain water to hydrate yourself.
  • Hold off taking any medication or supplements in the morning of your health screening. Do check with your doctor as to which medications are allowed to be consumed as well, particularly for heart or blood pressure medication.
  • If your health screening includes a stool test, avoid taking iron supplements or red meat for at least 3 days prior to the screening.
  • Bring along your past medical reports and scans; ranging from X-Rays, ultrasound reports, blood tests, as well as CT/MRI scans. This helps your doctor have a greater understanding of your health history.
  • Do bring along your long-term medications (if any), as well as reading glasses or contact lenses for vision tests.

Do dress in comfortable attire as well, such as T-shirts and sports shoes. Generally, a health screening test in Singapore would take up to 3 to 4 hours, and your doctor will get back to you on your screening results shortly afterwards. If your screening results are normal, do arrange for regular screening sessions in the future to maintain your good health.

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If your screening results reflect some abnormalities, do immediately seek advice from your doctor to facilitate early treatment and good control of your conditions. This helps to manage and treat your condition before complications can arise, leading to much better health outcomes for you.

Contact Thomson Wellth today to inquire about our health screening packages.

Part 3: Managing Sports Injuries

While regular health checkups help ensure that Singaporeans are able to preemptively treat and prevent illnesses, we still need to take that extra step towards living a thriving life. Many Singaporeans are taking to sports and exercise as part of an active lifestyle, which goes in line with pursuing wellness in addition to enjoying robust health. Unfortunately, constantly engaging in sports and exercise also increases the risk of sports injuries, whether it is due to overexertion or enthusiasm, or simply being unaware of the proper form and techniques when exercising. Older people can also have degenerative musculoskeletal conditions which impact their daily lives and exercise routines.

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An average of 16,000 people in Singapore experience sports injuries each year, making it an important area to treat and empower people to continue pursuing active lifestyles. Read on to learn more about the various types of sports injuries, as well as the available treatments at a sports medicine clinic in Singapore.

3.1  Types Of Sports Injuries

At a glance, sports injuries occur when one isn’t regularly active and overstrains themselves, not properly warming up before exercising, or during physical interactions for contact sports such as rugby and soccer. Some of the most common musculoskeletal injuries that require medical treatment are sprains and strains, achilles tendonitis, shin splints, fractures and dislocations, as well as ligament tears.

Sprains and strains are the most common kind of injuries that occur during sports and exercise. Sprains occur due to the overstretching or tearing of one’s ligaments, which are pieces of tissue that connect bones to one another in a joint. Strains occur when tendons, which are thick and fibrous cords of tissue connecting bones to tissue, are overstretched. 

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Achilles tendonitis is another condition that sports medicine specialists often see in patients. It refers to the injury and inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which is the fibrous band of tissue connecting your calf muscles to your heel bone. While resilient and able to withstand your movement and weight, the Achilles tendon can still get injured through overuse and strain, leading to inflammation and pain. It occurs most often amongst middle-aged people who exercise infrequently, as well as athletes who do high-intensity and impact sports.

Shin splints refer to pain along the tibia, also known as the shin bone, and can either occur along the foot and ankle (anterior), or the inner edge of the bone meets the calf muscles (medial). They are most often seen in runners, as a result of overuse, improper exercise and stretching, overtraining, or simply wearing shoes that have inadequate support.

More serious injuries include fractures as well as dislocations. Fractures arise from a break in the bone due to either a sharp, intense injury (an acute fracture), or from repeated stress over time (a stress fracture). Stress fractures are more common in the feet and legs, and particularly for sports such as gymnastics as well as track and field. Dislocations occur when the bones that form a joint become separated, often as a result of contact sports such as football and basketball. Upon getting fractures and dislocations, one should immediately seek medical help.

Ligament tears are also particularly serious, such as in the case of Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears. The ACL is the connective band of tissue that is responsible for the stability of one’s knee, and ACL tears are graded on three tiers of severity. An ACL tear may need surgical reconstruction especially if it is a complete tear with recovery and rehab ranging from three months to almost a year depending on the severity of the injury.

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It is important to address sports injuries as soon as they occur, regardless of how minor they may seem. It is all too easy to neglect treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, which can negatively impact your day-to-day life as you grow older, or prevent you from enjoying your preferred sport to the same extent as you once did. Here is a range of treatments to help treat a variety of sports injuries.

3.2  Treatments to Manage Sports Injuries

The most common and immediate treatment that sports injury specialists utilise is the RICE method. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation; and is helpful for treating mild sports injuries within the first 24 to 36 hours of the injury. It is invaluable in reducing swelling and preventing additional pain and bruising.

Another therapy utilised at sports injury clinics in Singapore is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy. PRP extract has high concentration of platelets and white blood cells and growth factors which helps to accelerate tissue healing. This therapy is ideal to help promote healing in tendon areas, treating conditions such as Achilles tendonitis as well as injuries in hamstrings, calfs, and quadriceps.

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is another pain-free method to treat sports injuries. It applies targeted pulses of low-powered laser beams to cells, assisting in the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries such as Achilles tendonitis, chronic neck pain, as well as lower back pain, among other injuries. These beams of light are non-invasive and do not cut into tissue, and they have been shown to help reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling, as well as improve recovery.

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Generally, sport injury clinics in Singapore utilise a holistic treatment plan to address sports injuries. This encompasses physiotherapy sessions to relieve muscle pain and aches, teaching daily muscle strengthening exercises that patients can do at home, as well as specific therapies such as LLLT and PRPT to stimulate improved recovery and relief in a localised area.

For severe cases, surgery may be required to correct injuries such as broken bones or torn knee ligaments, such as ACL tears. Surgery is often followed up with rehabilitative exercises, helping patients to regain movement and strength in the affected region, particularly for older patients who may be less mobile as well as athletes to help them get back to their previous training intensity.

Get in touch with Thomson Wellth today to find out more about how our sports injury specialists can help you.

Part 4: Conclusion

Living in health and a holistic life that promotes wellness is key to a fulfilling life. By staying healthy through an active and social lifestyle, getting regularly scheduled medical checkups in Singapore, as well as getting invaluable advice on how to avoid sports injuries from medical specialists, it is fully possible to enjoy a well-balanced lifestyle with your loved ones across the years.

Visit Thomson Wellth and take your first step towards health and wellness today.

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Urine and Stool Analysis

A urine sample is collected to examine substances such as glucose, protein, and red or white blood cells to provide information about kidney function & other urinary tract-related medical conditions. A stool analysis, on the other hand, checks for blood to provide information about digestive health including potential gastrointestinal bleeding.

Body Analysis Index (BIA)

A technique used to measure various parameters related to body composition, such as body fat percentage & lean body mass. It is non-invasive and involves passing a small electrical current through the body and measuring the resistance of different tissues to the current.