Popular home tests now available include:
URI-TRACT 7 AN, Curtin Matheson Scientific Inc. A chemically treated plastic strip that does nine different urine tests simultaneously. URI-TRACT tests for excess sugar; ketones, chemicals which, if present in the urine, can indicate malnutrition or diabetes; nitrites, which could indicate infection; bilirubin and urobilinogen, which could indicate a liver or gall bladder problem; pH (the urine's acid content), which -- if above or below normal -- could indicate a number of medical conditions; hidden blood that would reveal a bladder problem; and ascorbic acid. Cost: $12 for 50 dip sticks, enough to test a family of four several times a year, as compared with $40 to $50 for a single series of these tests if done by a physician or laboratory.
*Early Detector, Warner-Lambert Co. An easy-to-do test for hidden blood in the stool. Chemically treated tissue-like paper is used to collect a specimen, which then is sprayed with a developer. Cost: $7 to $9 for three tests; usual doctor's charge: $10 to $30 for a single test.
*ColoScreen Self Test, Helena Laboratories. Chemically treated paper that when dropped in the toilet will detect hidden blood in your bowel movement. Cost: $4 to $6.
*The Sulkowitch Test, Preventa/Pak Health Products. A simple chemical that will reveal the onset of osteoporosis by measuring the calcium in the urine. Women are most at risk of losing bone mass as they age. Cost: $9.95 for 10 prepared tests (it should be done three times in a row on different days), compared with $45 if the three tests are done by a doctor. The leftovers from the 10 tests will store safely for two years, so a woman can test herself three times for $9.95.
*Advance Pregnancy Test, Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp. A dip-stick urine test for women whose menstrual period is three days late. Cost: $8 to $9, compared with $15 in a doctor's office.
*OvuSTICK Self-Test, developed by Monoclonal Antibodies Inc., and available through your physician. A dip-stick treated with newly developed monoclonal antibodies that detect ovulation up to 36 hours before it occurs. Cost: $60 for a 10-test kit.
*VD Alert, Medical Frontiers Inc. The first over-the-counter test for identification of gonorrhea in men. The manufacturer's laboratory receives specimen in a number-coded package, and the patient uses a code to receive results anonymously by telephone. Cost: $19.
*Titrets Sulfite Test, CHEMetrics Inc. Marketed as an industrial product for use in water analysis, but usable as a chemical test for sulfites in foods and beverages. Now being studied by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cost: $18 for a package of 30 tests.
*Digital blood pressure measuring device, available from several manufacturers. Particularly important for hypertensives and those with a history of hypertension in their family. Cost: about $40, compared with an average of $25 every time blood pressure is checked in a doctor's office.
*Biotrine Peak Flow Monitor, Biotrine Corp. A device that tests lung function and lets you know if a problem is developing. A decrease in the output of air indicates you need a doctor's attention. Cost: $5, compared with $100 to $200 for a pulmonary function tests in your doctor's office.
*Eye Test Kit. Contains six vision tests, including one that will tell you whether your vision would improve with eyeglasses. Cost: $1 from the Minnesota Society for the Prevention of Blindness, St. Paul, Minn. 55101. Where to Buy Them
Most tests can be purchased through your local pharmacy; while they may not be in stock, they can be ordered. If your druggist can't help you, check the Yellow Pages under "Hospital Equipment and Supplies" or "Physicians' and Surgeons' Equipment and Supplies."
The cost of home tests can vary enormously from store to store, so shop around before you buy.
Your doctor can help you find the test or order what you need. What's more, when a test is recommended by your doctor, many health insurance plans will cover the cost.