Men’s health: Why you should get a regular check-up

06/28/2017 by Sarah Pena

Jesse Crane, DO
Jesse Crane, DO is accepting new patients at North Country HealthCare’s Flagstaff 4th Street location.

By Jesse Crane, DO, family medicine physician at North Country HealthCare

Men are more likely than women to die from 14 out of the 15 leading causes of death. In fact, men have a life expectancy five years shorter than women, and many experts believe this can be attributed to men’s personal beliefs about their own health. They go to the doctor less than women and are more likely to have a serious condition when they finally do go.

According to a recent survey by Orlando Health, the number one reason men avoid going to the doctor is because they feel they are “too busy.” Next on the list is fear of finding out something may be wrong, followed by discomfort with certain physical exams, like prostate checks. Another recent study by Rutgers University showed that men who hold traditional masculine beliefs are less likely to visit a doctor than women. High healthcare costs also deter many men.

How often to see your doctor

Never going to the doctor until symptoms arise is “bad medicine.” For example, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels may not have any symptoms in the early stages and the only way to find out if you have a condition is to get checked. Many diseases are already in an advanced stage when signs and symptoms are noticed.

For some, the regular visit is less about the exam itself and more about having one-on-one time with a medical professional and health accountability. Some experts suggest every five years is a good check-in rate for healthy people who have no symptoms of illness and chronic conditions. And the good news is, most appointments only take 30 to 45 minutes and are covered by most insurance plans at no cost to you.

The top risks to men’s health aren’t secrets; rather, they are known, common and often preventable. Which exams and screenings are needed to identify these risks depends on age, health, family history and lifestyle. In general, below are the recommended exams and screenings for each decade of life.

In Your 20s

  • Basic physical exams and screening for obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol
  • Additional tests based on family history, such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, etc.
  • Additional tests based on lifestyle, such as skin and oral cancer, sexually transmitted infections, and alcohol and drug abuse

In Your 30s

  • Same as 20s, plus:
    • Screening for heart disease, if family history is present

In Your 40s

  • Same as 20s & 30s, plus:
    • Diabetes screening for adult onset (type II) diabetes
    • Hearing exam

In Your 50s

  • Same as 20s, 30s & 40s, plus:
    • Screenings for prostate cancer and colon cancer – some of these tests can be done in the convenience of your own home
    • Certain cancer screenings, if tobacco use is present
    • Shingles vaccination (especially if you have had chicken pox) and other vaccinations as appropriate

In Your 60s

  • Same as 20s, 30s, 40s & 50s, plus:
    • Screening for various cardiovascular diseases and basic screenings for memory disorders

 In Your 70s and Beyond

  • Same as 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s & 60s
    • Some screenings are not needed or recommended over the age of 70, while some tests may be more frequent depending on health conditions and lifestyle

Most important: Find a physician you like and trust

Men who establish a relationship with a doctor are more likely to make an appointment when they are ill or have a health concern. It allows them to receive the appropriate treatment promptly when they need it, and prevent unnecessary and costly medical tests.

The two most important considerations when choosing a provider are communication and availability. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your doctor, choose a new one. Find a doctor who will treat you as a person and not as a sum of numbers. Screenings and lab tests are helpful in understanding your overall health, but there are many other factors that offer a complete picture of your health and wellness. You should be comfortable openly sharing your history, symptoms, and expectations with your doctor.

At North Country HealthCare, we try to make it as easy as possible to find a provider who is just right for you. We recommend getting established with a primary care provider who can conduct regular check-ups and keep you up to date on recommended screenings. Wellness is a journey, and it takes a team effort. You are the captain of that team, and it’s vital to find a doctor that can be a compassionate and integral team member.

Jesse Crane, DO, specializes in treating the entire family, caring for patients of all ages and stages of life. He is accepting new patients at North Country HealthCare’s Flagstaff 4th Street location. To make an appointment with Dr. Crane or any of our quality providers, click here or call 928.522.9400.

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