For Men: Don’t Skip Checkups and Recommended Screenings

For Men: Don’t Skip Checkups and Recommended Screenings

By: Kenneth Faistl, M.D., FAAFP

Kenneth Faistl MD

Men are missing the mark when it comes to managing their personal health. As a result, they are missing opportunities to find and deal with medical problems in their early stages. This is when many conditions are more treatable and less threatening to overall health.

Men’s tendency to seek healthcare services only in “crisis” situations—and to see themselves as strong and healthy enough to skip checkups and recommended screenings—is no surprise to psychologists. Numerous studies have concluded that men of all ages are less likely than women to seek help for 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 hide their vulnerability. Therefore, they come to view themselves as protected from disease. But, I encourage my male patients to go through regular health screenings to find serious health problems early. Especially the tests for the following:

High cholesterol. Beginning at age 35, men should get their cholesterol checked regularly – at least every five years. Men younger than age 35 could benefit from 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 schedule a blood glucose test for diabetes if they have raised cholesterol or high blood pressure. They should also have this test if they notice signs of diabetes. These include frequent thirst and urination, extreme tiredness, and blurred vision. Healthy men should get screened every three years. This should start at age 45.

Colorectal cancer. Screenings should begin at age 50, or earlier if there is a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or a family history of colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer screening can be done either with an annual fecal occult blood testing or colonoscopy every 10 years.

Prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. Some groups are at higher risk, including African-American men and those with a family history of the disease. Men ages 55 to 69 should make an individualized decision about screening with their healthcare provider.

Cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, stroke, and diabetes are among the leading causes of death for American men. The risk of developing these conditions can be reduced with a combination of a healthy lifestyle and regular medical care. Many disorders, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, are “silent” illnesses. They do not cause telltale symptoms that may lead to a healthcare provider’s visit. Routine checkups and screenings are critical for detecting hidden problems and staying healthy.

If the man you care about avoids preventive medical visits, don’t give up on encouraging him to put his health first. A spouse or significant other 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 enables you to take care of those who mean the most to you.

 

Kenneth Faistl, M.D., FAAFP, is board certified in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine and is on staff at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center. An advocate for family medicine and holder of a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Geriatrics, Dr. Faistl is returning to the Central/Southern New Jersey community where he had an office in Freehold, NJ, for more than 25 years. Dr. Faistl’s interim office is located in 3 Hospital Plaza, Suite 314, at Raritan Bay–Old Bridge. This fall Dr. Faistl will relocate to a new office on Route 9 in Manalapan. For more information or to make an appointment, call 732-360-3522.

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