In general, men are less likely to seek medical attention or visit their primary care provider (PCP) for an annual checkup and tend to be less likely to seek medical attention than their female counterparts. In addition, men, on average, live about five years less than women. Fortunately, most factors that contribute to men having shorter lifespans are preventable, such as seeing a doctor regularly and adhering to the recommended health screenings calendar. SMG Family Medicine doctor, David Chen shares five good reasons men should regularly see a PCP.
1. Annual Physical Examination
Having a regular well visit/physical exam is extremely important for overall health. A physical examination helps your primary care physician determine the general status of your health. The exam also gives you a chance to talk to your doctor about any ongoing pain or symptoms that you are experiencing or any other health concerns you may have. Additionally, it gives you a chance to update necessary immunizations, develop a relationship with your primary care physician, and ensure that you are maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine.
2. Heart Health
During the visit, your doctor can screen for conditions that have no symptoms but could increase your risk for heart disease including high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, diabetes, and an abnormal body mass index. Identifying and treating these conditions early can reduce your risk for future heart problems. If you are at high risk for heart disease or have symptoms such as shortness of breath or discomfort in the chest, your doctor may order certain heart tests. Your doctor can check you out and refer you to the proper specialist if needed. There's more to testing than simply finding out if you have heart disease. Your doctor may also want to determine whether the fatty plaques inside your blood vessels pose a high, medium, or low risk for a heart attack. This will help determine whether you need treatment.
Depression is a serious and real condition that many people struggle with but ignore, especially men. In addition, depression leads to physical symptoms such as headaches, poor sleep, and overeating that can impact your life There are things that can be done, and your primary care physician can help you cope so your quality of life does not suffer.
4. Aches / Pains / Arthritis
Your primary care provider can help with everyday aches and pains, as well as more serious problems such as arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative disorder of joint cartilage associated with damage to the bones. While more common in women, risk factors include genetics, past trauma, advancing age, and obesity. Seeing your doctor when these complaints arise will help you keep your muscles, bones and joints healthy.
5. Prostate and Colon Health
Prostate issues affect almost every man at some point. While we all worry about cancer, prostate enlargement is far more common and causes various symptoms such as weak stream, incomplete emptying, the urge to go frequently, and nighttime urination. The good news is we have may good management options to help reduce the symptoms. Additionally, men at increased risk for prostate cancer, including patients with a family history of metastatic adenocarcinoma, African-American race, and multiple generations of first-degree relatives with prostate cancer development at younger ages are advised to discuss the benefits and risks of screening with their health care provider. Don’t hesitate to discuss your symptoms and concerns with your primary care physician.
Colon cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer. So, it’s highly important to talk to your doctor about your risk and getting screened for colorectal cancer. Screening for colorectal cancer can detect polyps—growths that can become cancerous. These polyps can be removed before they have a chance to develop into cancer. The bottom line: screenings save lives.
If you are healthy and do not have a family history of colorectal cancer, start screening at age 50. African Americans and individuals with close relatives who were diagnosed with either colon or rectal cancer may need to start testing earlier.
A high-fiber diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (and low in red and processed meats) may help lower your risk of colorectal cancer. In terms of lifestyle, quitting smoking can not only help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, it is beneficial for one’s overall good health.
As you can see, there are many important reasons to establish a relationship with a primary care provider. Even if you consider yourself to be someone who is “in great health”, there are reasons for a visit. Investing in your medical care today, could save your health tomorrow.
Dr. Chen provides comprehensive medical care to patients of all ages, with a special interest in preventive care. His services include women and men’s health care, pediatrics, preventive health maintenance, primary care for patients with developmental and physical disabilities, minor surgical procedures, and sports medicine.