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Ask a Doc: Men’s Health

Heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes are among the diseases men face. Men don’t always take care of themselves. They also tend to engage in riskier behaviors, are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol and work in dangerous occupations. Because of this, American men generally live sicker and die younger than American women.  Raymond A. James, D.O. and medical director, Bret Kueber, M.D., and Emily Haly, M.D.,of the Boca Grande Health Clinic answer common questions about men’s health during June, the month health professionals observe as Men’s Health Month.

Do you have a question for us? If so, please send questions to the Clinic at https://www.bghc.org/contact or to the Boca Beacon and we will answer them.

Why are men reluctant to see a doctor?

It’s true. A lot of men avoid physicians. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), women are much more likely to visit the doctor and undergo annual exams and screenings. The CDC says only men older than 65 are much more likely to see their doctor regularly.

Some men shy away from seeing doctors because they fear receiving bad news. Maybe they aren’t taking care of themselves like they should or want to, and they don’t want to hear what they may learn. Or, they have moved recently, or many times, and never got around to finding a regular physician.

No matter what, there really are no good reasons not to see the doctor. Finding a health problem early can make a huge difference in the quality and length of your life.

My husband is a pretty healthy guy, so he refuses to get annual physicals. How can I persuade him to visit a doctor even when he’s not sick?

Since you’re asking the question, you already know that routine checkups are vital to preventing and treating many health conditions and diseases men face, like heart disease, prostate, testicular, and colon cancers, and osteoporosis later in life. Some serious diseases don’t have symptoms. Take high blood pressure, for example. There’s a reason it’s called the silent killer. High cholesterol and diabetes are two more good examples of conditions that are often without symptoms.

If your spouse doesn’t have a regular doctor, you could help him find one that would be a good fit. Maybe go ahead and schedule a physical for your spouse and get the appointment on his calendar. If you both see physicians at the same practice, think about scheduling your appointments at the same time so you go together. 

What happens at a regular health checkup?

A routine annual visit to your doctor involves a physical examination that includes taking your blood pressure, listening to your heart and lungs, checking your ears and throat, and checking your reflexes. We’ll discuss prostate testicular exams, looking for signs of cancer or other concerns, like prostate enlargement. It’s also a good time to have vaccines or boosters to bolster your immune system. We’ll review your family medical history and based on that as well as medical guidelines appropriate to your age, we will order blood work and screening tests to check cholesterol levels and look out for cancers and heart disease signs.

What can men do to get and stay healthy?

Early detection is the most important thing men can do. Screening tests can find diseases early when they are easier to treat. In addition, here’s a common-sense list of healthy choices that men (and women, too!) should consider:

  • Make and keep your appointment for an annual physical
  • Exercise regularly and watch your diet
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol excessively, or use recreational drugs
  • Wear your seatbelt
  • Take care to avoid falls and injury
  • Getting help for depression and anxiety

Do you have a question for us? If so, please send questions to the Clinic at https://www.bghc.org/contact or to the Boca Beacon and we will answer them.

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