June is recognized across the United States as Men’s Health Month. This is a good time for men and boys to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and make a stronger commitment towards early detection and treatment of disease. All too often, men will wait until they are feeling sick or in pain to seek medical attention, and typically visit the doctor less than women do. In fact, on average, women are 33% more likely than men to visit a doctor1 and have a higher life expectancy of about 5 years.2 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also estimates that of all men over the age of 18, 12.4% are in fair or poor health, 31.6% have had five or more drinks in one day on at least one occasion in the past year, 17.8% are smokers, and 34.5% are obese3. These statistics stress the need to take more of an active role in preventing health problems later in life.
“It is vital to have regular checkups to screen for diseases that may show up later as we age,” says Dr. Michael Helton, Board Certified in Internal Medicine at Physicians Regional Medical Group. “As much as we would all love to have hit the genetic lotto, the majority of us don’t. Some diseases such as cancers and even hypertension do not manifest until they are in active or advanced stages, where if caught early, could possibly have been prevented or managed.”
To help men safeguard their health, Dr. Helton encourages age-appropriate screenings per recommendations from the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF). A basic screening outline for different age groups includes:
20’s – Blood pressure, cholesterol, testicular exam for cancer, diabetes.
30’s – Cholesterol and skin cancer, provided 20’s check-ups were completed and clear.
40’s – Blood pressure, prostate cancer, diabetes (around age 45 and repeated every 3 years), skin cancer, and any of the above if not previously completed or cleared.
50’s – Colorectal Cancer, blood pressure, lung cancer (if a smoker or quit within the past 15 years), and any above not previously completed or cleared.
Ages 65 and up – Any of the above if not previously completed or cleared, adding abdominal aortic aneurysm screening (if ever a smoker). Continue cholesterol, colorectal and diabetes screening until age 75 and then discuss need for continuation with your Physician.
“Also, continue recommended vaccinations into adulthood and get routine eye exams every two years, or every year for diabetics,” says Dr. Helton. “A hearing screening if necessary and seeing your dentist for a cleaning and oral health examination 1-2 times per year are other ways of being proactive for your health.”
In order to get the best possible experience with your doctor, Dr. Helton encourages patients to come prepared. He offers the following tips:
• Be ready to give your doctor any new health updates since your prior visit and discuss any/all new concerns or problems you may have
• Discuss screening for diseases that may be family related
• Your doctor will want to discuss depression/anxiety symptoms, risky behaviors, and alcohol/substance abuse issues. Be transparent!
• A good practice is to write down all conditions, concerns, and medications on an index card to bring along
“Once in the exam room things tend to skip your mind and you don’t want to forget something that may be crucial to your checkup,” says Dr. Helton.
It is important to take care of your health at any age, and a healthy life does not stop with preventative visits to your doctor. Some rules to remember for good health are adequate sleep, proper nutrition (yes breakfast is important), exercise per your doctor’s recommendations and your ability, and relaxation time not only by yourself but also with your loved ones.
Dr. Helton’s office is located in the Medical Office Building (MOB) at Physicians Regional – Collier Blvd, 8340 Collier Boulevard, Naples. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (239) 348-4221, or schedule online at PhysiciansRegionalMedicalGroup.com.