By Michelle C. Reece, DrPH
Do men really take better care of their cars and their trucks than of themselves? Most drivers know that if their car or truck is making funny noises, the dash board warning lights are on, or it is just not running like it used to, it is time to get it to the shop. No one wants their vehicle breaking down on the side of the road! While men may get their car into the shop, historically, they often don’t do the same in regards to the management of their own health. Many men delay seeking medical care until there is some undeniable, incapacitating, or painful set of symptoms.
Most drivers know that each vehicle comes with maintenance recommendations that include routine inspections, service intervals, and scheduled maintenance to maintain safety and operation to extend the life of the vehicle. Regular maintenance is important for our vehicles—how much more so for our own bodies! Key words: regular check-ups!
Even though healthy living is becoming more popular across the USA, men still seem to be lagging behind in their annual checkups when compared to women. Men should be encouraged to go see their healthcare provider at least once a year even if they are feeling healthy or are not in pain.
Don’t ignore symptoms. Don’t live in denial about possible medical conditions. For example, a man with erectile dysfunction may think that it is a factor of the aging process, low testosterone, or too much daily stress, but he may have undiagnosed diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, prostate cancer, or some other physical or psychological issue. Many health conditions that do not have obvious or unusual symptoms can be detected during preventive health screenings which are done at the annual preventive health check-up.
Often the medical visit consists of blood pressure and weight check, describing the complaint to an intake health provider, questions about the complaint from the provider, receiving a diagnosis, order for blood work, a prescription, and check out. Because there is so little time in the medical encounter, the patient has to be far more proactive in the medical visit and be ready to ask questions about diagnoses, treatments, alternative methods, medicines, and side effects.
Preparing some key questions in advance and being ready to ask these questions will help health care providers to better understand the person and his health condition. Reports indicate that persons who ask questions tend to make more informed decisions; they receive higher quality of care and can often avoid medical harm.
Being involved helps individuals feel more confident about their health care and may reduce any fears and concerns and increase the overall effectiveness of your health care. In general, your questions can lead to better results for your health.1
Routine check-ups, recommended screenings, and your questions for the doctor may be a substantial part of your answer to improved health. Then of course there are the usual recommendations: eat healthier foods; increase physical activity; stop smoking or using tobacco products, reduce stress, practice safety.
Together these will lead to improved Vigor, Vibrancy, Virility, and longer life!
1 Questions To Ask Your Doctor: Questions Are the Answer. September 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.