“I don’t need a doctor, I’m fine.”
“I don’t want to take time off work.”
“It will get better in a couple days.”
Men make a lot of excuses to avoid a visit to the doctor’s office. According to a study by the American Academy of Family Physicians, more than half of all men have not visited their primary care physician in the past year. Reasons range from believing they are perfectly healthy to being afraid of finding something wrong. But men’s avoidance of physicians is actually hazardous to their health.
Heart disease is the number one killer of men in the United States each year. Cancer ranks number two. Annual preventive health exams are necessary to identify the underlying risk factors that lead to these conditions, as well as other preventable diseases.
“Some of the most insidious conditions, like hypertension or diabetes, are silent and can cause significant health care problems down the road if not recognized and managed appropriately,” says Drew Lewis, D.O., Des Moines University assistant professor and physical medicine and rehabilitation clinician.
Regularly reviewing your health with your doctor can catch these silent issues and, when treated, reduce your risk of disease. Simple procedures that may seem routine or redundant to patients, such as checking your vital signs and taking down your medical history, actually are crucial to the physician’s process of identifying risk factors.
Annual check-ups also allow physicians to ensure you are getting the appropriate immunizations and screenings for your age. Most people think that they get all the shots they need as children, but immunizations are important throughout adulthood. Screenings for diabetes, prostate cancer, colon cancer and other conditions are also necessary as you get older and your risk increases. Physicians are there to counsel you on your health and wellness so you understand the importance of these immunizations and screenings.
“Signs of major health issues can start early, even in your 20s when you seem invincible. You have to look for these things in order to prevent major issues,” adds Lewis.
Men may find it a pain to visit their doctor, but the real pain comes with the consequences of unchecked health. A regular preventive health exam can uncover the warning signs of potentially deadly conditions or, better yet, leave you with a clean bill of health.