Chances are, you get your car tuned regularly and never skip an oil change, but are you taking such good care of yourself? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are less likely than women to visit the doctor.
The truth is, many men do not go to the doctor as often as they should. An annual check-up is a big part of prevention for conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Men have many excuses for putting off preventive care. But for every excuse not to go, there is a reason why you should.
- “I feel fine” — Feeling healthy is not necessarily an indicator that you are healthy. Many conditions, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, do not initially present any obvious symptoms. If you do have a condition, your chance of recovery is higher in the early stages.
- “I don’t have time” — There are 8,760 hours in a year. Between transportation, the waiting room and the exam, you spend an average of two hours a year on preventive care.
- “I don’t have the money” — For Compass Rose Health Plan members, an annual routine preventive care exam is covered at 100% when using a network provider, so there are no out-of-pocket expenses.
- “I don’t have a doctor” — We make it easy to find a network doctor in your area. Simply search our Provider Directory.
- “I would rather sleep it off” — Waiting it out can take care of a scrape and the common cold, but does not heal all. Many conditions only get better with proper medical treatment.
Not seeing a doctor regularly means that you lose out on important health screenings or early diagnosis.
What to expect:
At an annual check-up, your doctor can address any concerns you might have and do health screenings to detect potential problems. Depending on your provider, you may be required to get blood work done before your appointment so the results are available to discuss.
A routine visit typically begins by filling out paperwork, which may not sound like fun, but is helpful for your doctor to establish a medical history, symptoms you are experiencing and risk factors. Your doctor uses this information to guide your visit and determine what can be done to help improve your health. Up next, a nurse may check your numbers such as your height, weight and blood pressure. Then comes the physical exam where your doctor may:
- examine your eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin
- listen to your heart and lungs
- feel your abdomen
- check your reflexes
- update your vaccinations
- check your testicles and groin area for masses or other abnormalities, as well as check the scrotum for signs of a hernia
- depending on your age (typically for men over the age of 50), perform a rectal exam for prostate enlargement
What else can you do to stay healthy?
The advice you have likely heard over and over: eat healthy and exercise.
- Try to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If you are just starting out, try low-impact exercises such as walking at a brisk pace, a stationary bike, swimming or yoga. Consult your doctor before you begin any exercise regimen.
- You should also try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Visit www.choosemyplate.gov for recommendations on just how much.
- Sleep is also important as it can affect your physical and mental health. Ideally, you should get eight hours.
Going to the doctor is a sign of strength, that you are not afraid of the unknown. Yes, finding out that something is wrong can be scary. But showing your loved ones that you are taking an active role in your health is a great way to assert control.
Want more? Come back later this month to learn about different health screenings for men and about prostate cancer awareness.