Nearly A Third of Men Don’t Believe They Need to See a Doctor Regularly - Are You One of Them?
Written by: Mark S. Umphrey II, DO, MPH, Family Medicine Physician at Norton Medical Center, part of Sturdy Memorial Associates.
When it comes to their health, men simply prefer not to talk about it. In fact, a 2016 survey from the Cleveland Clinic identified that 53 percent of men say that it’s something that they just don’t do. And, if they do decide to delve into a conversation about it, it’s more likely to be something related to a close call or how they were able to overcome an injury despite the pain. Serious issues like gastrointestinal concerns, problems related to sexual health, and urinary issues are rarely discussed.
Even more concerning, nearly a third of men surveyed in 2018 by the Cleveland Clinic don’t feel that it’s necessary to have their health checked by a doctor each year, mainly due to the fact that they feel they are healthy. And when a concerning symptom arises, 27 percent of men look to the internet to research their symptoms on their own rather than calling their doctor, which can lead to an undiagnosed and untreated condition.
Why bring attention to these statistics? Because regardless of your gender, knowing your health status can result in improved health. Knowing your numbers related to blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol as well as your risk factors for certain health conditions can aid in the prevention of many medical conditions. So what can you do?
See Your Primary Care Physician (PCP)
An annual visit takes less than an hour and the appointment is typically booked well enough in advance that you should be able to accommodate it into your busy schedule. If you don’t have a PCP, find one who you will feel at ease with. You’ll want to have a level of comfort to share personal issues, ones that may sometimes be uncomfortable sharing.
Plan to see your doctor once a year for an annual exam. Much like your car needs maintenance, your body does as well. If it helps, think of your visit as a tune-up, your doctor will assess your overall health, provide you with guidance on screenings, suggest appropriate lifestyle changes, and ensure you’re up to date on immunizations (they aren’t just for kids). More importantly, these exams, when done regularly can help to identify medical issues before they become difficult to treat.
What Can You Expect?
Age will play a factor into what your annual exam consists of. As you grow older, more screenings are done, but that doesn’t mean you can put off your exam.
For those in their 20’s, an exam will consist of gathering height and weight, a blood pressure check, as well as possible screening for sexually transmitted diseases and a cholesterol check (every 4-6 years for those at normal risk per the American Heart Association).
Exams for men in their 30’s will include all of the above, but may also have additional screenings depending on medical history. A vision exam may be done and blood work may be ordered to screen for medical conditions such as thyroid disease as well as liver problems.
Men in their 40’s will add diabetes screenings to their yearly exam. At 45, your doctor may order a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer. This was traditionally done at 50, but the American Cancer Society changed their recommendations based on the number of younger adults being diagnosed with the disease.
As you continue to get older, annual exams will involve more tests and screenings including prostate cancer screenings, screenings for type II diabetes, lipid disorders, osteoporosis as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s, and more. Your annual exam is a time to monitor your overall wellness. It’s also a time to discuss any concerns you may have including any topics that that may be thought of as taboo, such as erectile dysfunction (ED). Sharing these details can help your doctor find appropriate treatment and further keep an eye out for conditions that may be related. For instance, ED is often the first indication of a potential heart issue, 80 percent of men that present with a first time heart attack had developed ED in the previous three years.
Modern medicine is focused on preventative healthcare. By working together with your doctor, many medical issues can be addressed before they become major. Stop putting off your health and schedule your exams and screenings today.
Dr. Mark Umphrey is currently accepting new patients. He is a board certified in Family Medicine & Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment and practices at Norton Medical Center, part of Sturdy Memorial Associates, an affiliate of Sturdy Memorial Hospital.