Men’s health: How often do you need a check-up?
Do you take better care of your car than you do your health?
Come on, be honest! Research shows men generally do not see a doctor for a physical exam nearly as often as women. Many men will wait until something is terribly wrong, then they go reluctantly. Does this sound like you?
Even if you feel fine, it is still important to see your healthcare provider regularly to check for potential problems. Most people who have high blood pressure don’t even know it. The only way to find out is to have your blood pressure checked regularly. Likewise, high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels often do not produce any symptoms until a disease becomes advanced.
Men’s health often gets less attention than women’s health, perhaps because men are 24 percent less likely than women to have seen a doctor within the past year.
Just 57 percent of U.S. men visit a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant for routine care, compared with 74 percent of women, according to Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Regardless, men need preventive tests and screenings on a regular basis to ensure good health.
GO FOR IT
Regular checkups and age-appropriate health screenings can help you improve your health. Below is the proposed schedule for checkups and health screenings, by age, as recommended by the Men’s Health Network and the experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
There are specific times when you should see your healthcare provider. Age-specific guidelines are as follows:
Physical exam with blood test: every 1 to 3 years until age 40, then annually
Blood pressure: every 2 years, if normal
Blood glucose: every 3 years, if normal
Lipid profile (cholesterol): every 3 to 5 years, if normal
Baseline electrocardiogram (ECG): once by age 40
Testicular exam: monthly self-exams; annual clinical exam
Skin exam: monthly self-exams; annual clinical exam
Mental health screening: at least once and generally again with physicals
Tetanus vaccine: every 10 years
Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine: CDC now recommends a single booster dose for adults because of a resurgence of pertussis.
Dental exam, visit the dentist every year for an exam and cleaning.
Eye exam. If you have vision problems, continue to have an eye exam every 2 years. The benefit of screening for glaucoma is unclear.
Preventive health visit every two years until age 50, and then once a year, should include: height and weight check; screening for alcohol and tobacco use; screening for depression
Continue your healthy habits from the younger years and add:
Prostate (digital rectal) exam: annually (start at age 45 for African-American men and those at high risk)
Colon tests (stool blood test, called FOBT, plus flexible sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy)
FOBT annually with sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, if normal, and colonoscopy every 10 years, if normal
Flu vaccine: annually
When you reach your golden years, continue all screenings and add:
Pneumonia vaccine: once every 5 years
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm. If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever been a smoker, (smoked 100 or more cigarettes in your lifetime), get screened once for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). AAA is a bulging in your abdominal aorta, your largest artery. An AAA may burst, which can cause dangerous bleeding and death.
These health screening tests are specifically chosen by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) because early detection can lead to prevention and treatment that saves lives.
If saving your own life isn’t enough reason for you to get your scheduled screening tests, think of your family or the money you can save by catching something early before expensive procedures are needed.
This article was provided by the Wellness Team at Tahoe Forest Health System. Information comes from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force; The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, Rockville, Md.; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2010. Call 530-587-3769 for more information. Find Tahoe Forest Health System at http://www.tfhd.com.