Men are good at taking care of a lot of things. But one thing many men don’t take good care of is their own bodies. They are not protecting their health.
Surveys tell us that men don’t see their doctors often enough. Many men wait until a health problem is bad before they get help. Men need to understand that seeing their doctor to stay well isn’t a waste of time. It’s the smart thing to do.
Men should have regular physical exams every one to three years. (Ask your doctor how often you need to have a physical.) At these exams, the doctor can test for health problems before they get serious, while they can still be treated easily. If you have a condition like diabetes, you will need to see your doctor more often.
Many of the major health risks that men often face, like heart disease and colon cancer, can be prevented and even treated with an early diagnosis. Doctors regularly screen for unhealthy blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, mental health, and weight. Men’s Health Network recommends the following simple, lifesaving screenings:
- Yearly Physical & Blood Pressure (All Men)
- Skin Cancer Exam (All Men)
- Blood Panel to Check Cholesterol, Diabetes, Kidney, and Thyroid (Men 20 and Older)
- Blood Panel with a Prostate Cancer Screening (Men 50 and Older*)
- Colonoscopy to Check for Colon Cancer (Men 45 and Older)
Here are some of the tests a man will be tested for or can request during an annual exam:
- Weight check: every visit.
- Blood pressure check: every visit.
- Cholesterol test: at least every five years from age 20.
- Cancer screening: ask your doctor for advice regarding prostate and colorectal cancer.
- Sexually transmitted disease (STD) tests: ask your doctor for advice.
- Diabetes: ask your doctor for advice if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
- Immunization: ask your doctor if you should have a shot for flu, tetanus, pneumonia or hepatitis B.
- Depression: if you’ve felt “down,” sad or hopeless for two weeks straight, with little interest or pleasure in doing things you once enjoyed, talk to your doctor about depression.
- Lifestyle: if you’re battling obesity, smoking and alcohol use, ask your doctor about counseling and behavioral interventions to help improve your lifestyle choices
Do the smart man thing. If it’s been a while since the men you care about have been to the doctor for a routine physical, pick up the phone and schedule a visit.
Bingham Healthcare has offices in Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and Shelley. Call (208) 785-4100 to find an office near you or visit our Family Medicine page.
*African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer may wish to begin prostate screenings at age 40 or earlier.