Just as Superman keeps his distance from kryptonite, men tend to keep their distance from the doctor’s office. Many men, perhaps even as young boys, are taught to be strong, tough and to forgo pain. This belief can carry well into adulthood and include thoughts that visits to a physician only need to happen for serious illness or injury. However, this perception can be dangerous for a man’s health. Preventive medicine plays a key role in keeping men active and strong.
Preventative medicine is exactly what it sounds like, it’s meant to prevent sickness or disease before it happens. Preventative medicine can include annual wellness checkups, immunizations, vaccinations and testing and screenings like a colonoscopy.
“Wellness visits are extremely important to patients as they are opportunities to screen for conditions before they become problematic,” said Dr. Misty Todd with Bothwell Regional Health Center’s Cole Camp Clinic. “Conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and high cholesterol are more easily treated and have much better outcomes if they are caught early.”
Todd identified health-related issues men typically have to worry about as they get older including high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, skin cancer, obesity, hearing loss, high cholesterol, depression, diabetes, aneurysms, lung cancer, prostate cancer and osteoporosis.
“One in four men die of heart disease, which is one of the five leading causes of death in the United States,” Todd said. “This makes preventive medicine all the more important in avoiding premature death.”
From Jan. 1, 2021, to Oct. 12, 2021, primary care providers at Bothwell saw fewer men than women for office visits — just 40% men to 60% women. Todd said it's not difficult to get men to come to the clinic if they require a specific service, such as a joint injection or skin lesion biopsy, but it is more difficult to get them in the office for the all-important wellness visit. She recommends men see their physician annually at a minimum and more if they have health conditions.
“It really depends on family history and individual medical issues,” she said. “Issues like being overweight, having high blood pressure or high cholesterol may mean needing to be seen more often to monitor those ailments and keep them in check.”
While some men may be embarrassed by a particular health issue or have fear of what a physician might tell them and put off visiting a doctor, Todd said that shouldn’t stop them from taking care of themselves.
“As physicians and providers, we’re not here to judge patients on their lifestyle or family history. We just want to help people stay healthy so they can enjoy life as long as possible,” she said. “I like to ask my male patients, ‘You take care of your vehicles regularly, right?’ and when they say yes, I remind them they need to take care of themselves the same way and to not wait for the proverbial wheels to fall off before seeing a doctor.”
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