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At-Home Health Monitoring Devices: Dos & Don'ts

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As a society, it’s fair to say we have all become more health conscious. We pay more attention to the food we eat, take notice of advice on how to improve our health, and monitor the exercise we take more than we ever have before. It’s impossible to walk through a grocery store aisle without seeing obvious signs of this health obsession: low-fat, low-carb, supplements, food enhancers-- they’re everywhere.


The obvious next step for the health-conscious is the ability to monitor your health in your own home, rather than having to make a trip to the doctor’s office for every little thing. Thanks to technology, this is becoming more possible than it ever has before. You can buy devices that read your blood sugar and your blood pressure; pregnant women can use fetal dopplers to listen to their baby’s heartbeat whenever they want; and you can even have Zoll AEDs on hand if someone in your family has a history of heart problems.


There’s no denying that these devices are of huge benefit, but they all come with a note of caution attached. Any home can be enhanced by the presence of health technology, but there’s a few things you need to keep in mind about these items…


DO: Read The Instructions


This is a point that cannot be overstated. Read the instructions from cover to cover, and if there’s something you don’t understand, contact the manufacturers for clarification. At-home health devices are only useful if the person using them is qualified to do so. You need to know how to use these items, how to interpret the results, and the potential risks of using them. That’s not to say they’re not helpful, but just that you need to be sure you know how to get the most from them.


DON’T: Use Devices As A Replacement For Medical Care


There are some truly tragic tales surrounding home health monitoring kits, particularly fetal dopplers. Women, concerned by the lack of movement from their unborn child, have used these kits and been reassured by being able to hear the heartbeat-- only for it to later emerge that they had been listening to their own heartbeat. If you have a health concern, then don’t rely solely on an at-home device for reassurance; they’re monitoring tools, not diagnostic aids.


It’s worth noting that most doctors and midwives advise pregnant women not to use fetal dopplers. Plenty still do, of course; if you’re tempted, then you have to be certain you won’t use it as a replacement for proper midwife care.


DO: Be Cautious


There is always a chance you will use an at-home health device and it tell you something terrible, which sends you into a spin of panic. It’s wise to remember that these devices are not infallible, and they are part of your medical care rather than a replacement for it. If you see a bad reading, don’t immediately assume the worst-- contact a medical professional to verify what you have found.


DON’T: Leave Items Unattended


If you have small children in the house, then you need to be sure there’s no way they can access these devices. Defibrillators, for example, can save lives, but they are also potentially dangerous pieces of equipment that should be used with extreme care and consideration. Store all devices far from small hands, just to be on the safe side.


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