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?
Men tend to seek health care only when there is a “crisis.” They see themselves as strong and healthy enough to skip checkups and recommended screenings. This attitude is no surprise to psychologists. Many 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 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. Beginning at age 35, men should get their cholesterol checked regularly. This means at least every 5 years. Men younger than age 35 could be helped by cholesterol testing if they smoke, have high blood pressure or diabetes, or have a family history of heart disease.
High blood pressure. All men should get their blood pressure checked at least every 2 years, or more often if recommended by a healthcare provider.
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. They also 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 doctor about your health history.
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
Heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, and diabetes are among the leading causes of death for American men. The risk of developing these conditions can be lowered with a healthy lifestyle 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 the 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.
Online Medical Reviewer:
Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer:
Horowitz, Diane, MD
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.