Gosh, men are stubborn! Especially when it comes to scheduling regular health screenings and exams. We love to deny, we love to say nothing bad can happen to me. We’re raised to be more macho and tough, and not show any unnecessary emotion or concern.

I’ve heard many reasons for men not scheduling health exams in my 38 years as a board-certified family practitioner at Westfield Premier Physicians, but I remain diligent in advocating for regular health screenings for prevention and early detection of disease. It’s so important for men to get regular, routine checkups so minor issues don’t turn into major health problems.

I would love to see everybody healthy day-in, day-out, week after week, and never have to write another prescription for the rest of my career. But we know that doesn't happen. We know there is disease, we know there are problems out there that need to be discovered. We have modes and methods of discovering problems early on, and we can treat and control them to ensure better health into our senior years.

What Health Tests Should Men Schedule and How Often?

Unfortunately, we can't sense disease coming at us until the effects occur. It's never too late to seek help, but we really don't want problems to get to that point. So early discovery and prevention is going to be key in any well health lifestyle plan.

In your teen years, we really want to make sure your immunizations are up to date. Parents need to stay on top of getting their children the appropriate immunization shots to protect their health as a child and adolescent.

I encourage men (and women) in their early 20s to get baseline blood tests to screen for diabetes, cholesterol, thyroid, Vitamin D deficiency and anemia. Young women tend to have issues with anemia because of their menstruation cycles, but this is an important thing for young men to be screened for, too, because there are other forms of anemia. Other screenings may be ordered if there’s a family history of diabetes or high cholesterol. I recommend getting these tests every three years.

At age 30, I think men need to get regular health screenings every two years, as long as they’re healthy and don't have any bad habits, such as smoking or eating unhealthy. Unfortunately, obesity has now become a huge problem.

By age 40, I recommend annual exams. At that point, the “dreaded” prostate check occurs, but it’s really harmless and easy to tolerate. The PSA test is important for men to take at age 40, and again every year after that. Baseline blood tests for diabetes and high cholesterol also need to be performed for early detection and prevention.

Why is Preventive Health So Important?

I love to compare men’s health to our car’s health. Maybe you walk around your car and find three out of the four tires are bald or have low air pressure. You have a choice. You know bald tires have the potential to blow out, causing your car to veer off the road and harm yourself and others. While some may be willing to risk it and drive the car with bad tires and go another 10,000 miles without any issues, others may decide to put safety first and replace the tires.

Does replacing the tires negate the risk of the car having a flat tire or veering off the road with a blowout? No. We know a new tire can blow, but we are minimizing the risks of that future calamity.

Just like regular vehicle maintenance, the human body needs regular checks to identify potential problems. We also have a choice. If we identify health issues like diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, we can choose to treat them. We can do something to minimize their effects on our long-term health. Or, like so many men, we can choose to ignore them and let them become major problems that threaten or take our lives.

I always choose the path of prevention. I believe it’s best to screen for any problems and try to fix them as we encounter them when they’re minor, and before they become major health issues.

Experience in Understanding Men’s Health

As a direct primary care physician, I’ve been treating men’s health issues for 38 years. I take my patients very seriously and try to encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle. Men need to take advantage of the modern-day diagnostic tools and simplified treatment plans for early detection of common health issues. Don’t cheat yourself out of what’s right in front of you.

Sometimes men who come in for health screenings tell me, “Gee doc, I’m healthy. I don’t know why I’m here.” More often than not, that’s the person who discovers he has a problem, whether it’s a lump, bump or something in the bloodstream that we can detect in its early stages.

Prevention and early detection is the cornerstone to good health so we can enjoy our lives as long as the Good Lord put us on this earth. I plead with our guys to take a proactive approach to their health. Talk to your doctor and ask for regular health screenings. We never overdo, we do what's appropriate and important for your health.

Contact me directly at drbob@westfieldpremier.com to schedule your next health screening. As a DPC physician, I will take the time to focus on you and explore the right treatment for your specific needs. Stop in anytime for a free cup of coffee.

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