There’s a story about a man who was so committed to running his business that he never took time to do anything else. He never went to the doctor. He ignored all the little signs that something might be wrong until his health became so bad that he couldn’t work at all. He lost the business he had worked so hard to build. With a few preventive check-ups, his problems could have been prevented, and his livelihood would still be intact.
Both men and women neglect medical check-ups for a variety of reasons. Lack of time, everything seems fine, not wanting to hear that something is wrong or that anything they’re doing needs to change, and thinking the experience will be uncomfortable are among the top reasons for postponing doctor’s visits. But to put it in automotive terms–preventative checks, maintenance and repairs can improve dependability, performance and years on the road. Here are a few reasons to see the doctor.
For Prevention. Many of the most common causes of death in men–heart disease, stroke, cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease (according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention)–are preventable. Lifestyle changes and medications can prevent and control many of these conditions, and the earlier they are detected, the less invasive the solution typically will need to be.
Men in their 20s and 30s should visit their physician annually and have a physical exam every two to three years and begin having annual check-ups at age 40. These regular interactions help your caregiver track important trends in your health so potential problems are spotted early. At these visits you can report changes in your family history and in your own health that might warrant investigation. Measures of your cholesterol, blood pressure and weight help determine any lifestyle changes or medications you may need to take. And your doctor can make sure you’re up-to-date with immunizations and recommended screenings.
You may already know that you are overweight, should exercise more or need to quit smoking, and you may not be ready to change today. But your doctor can help you understand where things stand and may have advice that can help you improve your health and feel better.
Chest pain and symptoms of stroke warrant an immediate 9-1-1 call for safe transport and evaluation at a hospital. In cases of life, death or potential disability always error on the side of caution.
The American Cancer Society lists seven potential early signs of cancer that should prompt a visit with your doctor:
• Change in bowel or bladder habits
• A sore that does not heal
• Unusual bleeding or discharge
• Thickening or lump in the breast, testicles, or elsewhere
• Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
• Obvious change in the size, color, shape, or thickness of a wart, mole or mouth sore
• Nagging cough or hoarseness
Other symptoms to address with your doctor include:
• Changes or side effects due to new or changed medications
• Unexplained weight loss
• Persistent fever
• Shortness of breath
• Confusion or personality changes
• Pain that doesn’t go away within two weeks
• Any health issue that is troubling to you
Your family doctor is a resource and a partner who can help you live longer and feel better. If you can’t remember the last time you had a check-up, or you have any of the symptoms above, it’s time to make one today.
Michael Weisner, MD, practices family medicine at Susquehanna Health Family Medicine of Montoursville.
By Michael Weisner, MD
Susquehanna Health Family Medicine at Montoursville