For Men: Healthcare Providers Are Good for Your Health
Men, you're missing the mark when it comes to managing your own health. As a result, you're missing the chance to find and deal with health problems in their early stages. This is when many conditions are more treatable and less threatening to overall health.
What are they thinking?
Sometimes, men tend to seek healthcare only when there is a “crisis.” They may see themselves as strong and healthy enough to skip checkups and recommended screenings. Some research studies have found that men are less likely than women to seek help for health problems. This includes physical and emotional health issues. Some experts say this is a learned behavior. Many men are raised to act tough and independent, so they stay in control and seem less vulnerable. They may come to view themselves as protected from disease. Men also may fear that others will think their healthcare provider visits are unmanly or weak. This is especially so if the men around them also don't get preventive health care.
Screenings men can’t live without
The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force and other health groups encourage men to have regular health screenings to find serious health problems early. Men should ask their healthcare provider about tests for the following:
High cholesterol. Starting at age 35, men who have no risk factors should get their cholesterol checked regularly. This means at least every 4 to 6 years. Men younger than age 35 could be helped by cholesterol testing if they have risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease.
High blood pressure. All men age 20 and older should get their blood pressure checked at least every 2 years, or more often if recommended by a healthcare provider.
Eye exam. Men should get an eye exam at least every 2 years if they don't have any eye-related health concerns or conditions. If you are at high risk for risk for eye-related diseases or conditions, your healthcare provider may recommended a more complete eye exam more often.
Body mass index. Men should get their BMI measured each year to help find out if they are at a healthy weight for their height.
Diabetes. Men should get a blood glucose test for diabetes if they have higher-than-normal cholesterol or high blood pressure. They should also have this test if they have signs of diabetes. These include being thirsty often and needing to urinate often. Other symptoms include being very tired and having blurred vision. Healthy men should get screened every 3 years. This should start at age 45.
Colorectal cancer. Men at average risk for colorectal cancer should get their first screening at age 45. Some men should start screening earlier because of their personal history or family history. Talk with your healthcare provider about your health history.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening. Men aged 65 to 75 years who have ever smoked should have a 1-time screen for an abdominal aortic aneurysm with ultrasound.
Several tests are available and are used at different times. Possible tests include flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years, colonoscopy every 10 years, a fecal occult blood test every year, or a fecal immunochemical test or stool DNA test every 3 years. If you choose a test other than a colonoscopy and have an abnormal test result, you will need to have a colonoscopy. Expert groups have different screening recommendations. Talk with your healthcare provider about which tests are best for you.
Time for a new attitude
The leading causes of death for U.S. men are heart disease, cancer (colorectal, testicular, prostate, and lung), stroke, lung disease, accidents, and diabetes. The risk of developing these conditions can be lowered with a healthy lifestyle, a healthy diet, regular exercise and regular health care. Many conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol are “silent” illnesses. They don't cause symptoms that may lead to a healthcare provider's visit. Routine checkups and screenings are important for finding hidden problems and staying healthy.
Tips for partners
If the man you care about does not get preventive medical visits, keep encouraging him to put his health first. A spouse or other loved one can influence a man's decision to see their healthcare provider.
For men, it’s time to consider showing strength, wisdom, and leadership in a new way. When tempted to delay a medical visit, think about your value as a provider and role model. Taking care of yourself helps you to take care of those who mean the most to you.