(June, 2014) – Many fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, and boyfriends share a common ailment called “Doctor-itis” – avoidance of a trip to the doctor. Whether it’s a “macho” thing as some research suggests, or simply fear or lack of time, the scary fact is that men don’t take time out of their day to see a doctor.
In honor of Father’s Day (June 15) and Men’s Health Week (June 9-15), local doctors at AFC/Doctors Express centers in our area urge men to come in for a checkup. Urgent care centers are ideal for the man on the go – no appointments are necessary and later hours offer convenience. The time is right for a doctor’s visit since survey information by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Men’s Health Network (MNH) reveals:
- 55 percent of U.S. men haven’t seen their M.D. in the past year, and men make half as many doctor visits for prevention as women. (AAFP, National Institutes of Health)
- This is despite the fact that men have a higher death rate for fatal illnesses including cancer and heart disease. (MHN)
“While many men have the attitude that ‘nothing’s wrong,’ or ‘I’m fine,’ there are several medical problems that don’t present symptoms and can lead to trouble down the road if they aren’t addressed,” says Dr. D. Bruce Irwin, founder of American Family Care. “Most men are guilty of ‘doctor avoidance,’ and we’re urging men to step up and take charge of their health, just as they do with other aspects of their lives.”
Men’s Hidden Health Risks
Doctors and experts at the American Osteopathic Association recommend physicals to rule out common problems or identify health risks that often don’t show obvious signs including:
- High Blood pressure
- Elevated Cholesterol Levels
With so many reasons to live a healthier lifestyle, men still lead women in more areas of health risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and MHN.
- More men (31 percent) have five or more alcoholic drinks in a day, versus 14 percent of women.
- More men (21 percent) over age 18 smoke cigarettes, versus 18 percent of women.
- Of men under age 65, 18 percent don’t have health insurance.
- More men are employed in dangerous occupations, such as construction workers, firefighters, police officers and miners.
- Experts believe healthy behaviors in men and boys are discouraged by “macho” society.
- More men are involved in suicides and car accidents, linked to depression and “risky” youthful behaviors.
“A routine checkup, paired with screenings and lifestyle changes, if necessary, can reduce the risk of chronic illness for men, as well as the chances of needing surgery later in life,” Dr. Irwin says. “We want men to embrace a healthy lifestyle and visit the doctor to get the care they need and deserve.”
Men’s Checkup Checklist
Viewing the doctor as an ally rather than an adversary can lead to a longer, healthier life for men. AFC/Doctors Express physicians recommend men follow a Checkup Checklist with a medical professional to address issues that impact men’s health the most. According to the NIH that includes:
- Blood pressure: Normal blood pressure is 120/80. If your numbers are higher, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, medication or monitoring.
- Cholesterol: Men ages 34 and over should be checked every five years.
- Colon cancer: Men over age 50 should get regular screenings for colorectal cancer.
- Heart disease: According to the CDC, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans (49 percent) have at least one of these three risk factors.
- Immunizations: Men should get a flu shot every year. Other vaccinations may be needed if you have other medical conditions
- Osteoporosis: Men ages 50-70 who smoke, drink alcohol or are sedentary, should be screened for osteoporosis.
- Prostate cancer: Men over 50 should get a prostate cancer screening annually. Those with a history of prostate cancer and black men should start screening at 45.
Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Mayo Clinic, Men’s Health Network and National Institutes of Health