5 questions men should ask their doctors
It’s easy to skip those doctors’ visits when you’re healthy and feeling good, but that’s not usually a good idea. No matter what your age, it’s never too early to take care of yourself and take steps to prevent disease. Dr. Tony Hampton, a family physician with Advocate Medical Group in Chicago, suggests seeing your doctor annually and asking the following five questions.
What screenings do you recommend for me?
There are a number of health screens that can help men detect disease and risk of disease early and help prevent a number of serious health conditions. When you see your doctor, ask if any of the following screenings are right for you:
- Cholesterol panel. Knowing your triglyceride and “good” and “bad” cholesterol levels can help assess your risk for heart disease.
- Diabetes/blood sugar. If you’re overweight, have high blood pressure or take blood pressure medication, this test is important for you.
- Blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to a number of diseases, so it’s important to know and manage yours.
- Colonoscopy. Most of us have heard about this test, and anyone who has isn’t looking forward to it. But it’s important for men over 50 to be regularly screened. And if you have certain risk factors, your screening may need to start earlier.
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening. This is an ultrasound that looks for damage to your abdominal aorta. It’s especially important for males who are smokers or former smokers.
- Lung cancer screening. There is some controversy about lung cancer screening, but if you are or were a smoker or have other risk factors, ask your doctor whether this is something you should consider.
- Skin check. Most doctors will recommend that you have a full body skin check regularly to look for skin changes that could indicate cancer.
- Prostate exam and/or PSA test. There is some controversy about prostate screenings, but you should ask your doctor what he or she thinks, and become as informed as you can.
- HIV and other STD tests. Some sexually transmitted diseases can lie dormant for decades, but can cause life-threatening problems, including cancer. Ask your doctor if these tests are right for you.
What steps can I take to prevent illness and disease?
Prevention is so important when it comes to overall health and wellness. And some diseases are almost entirely preventable. Talk with your doctor about whether you should:
- Get any immunizations/vaccines, like influenza, shingles, pneumonia, whooping cough, tetanus, and more.
- Take aspirin every day.
- Use sunscreen to protect your skin.
- Take vitamins or supplements.
Do I need to change my diet?
As you age, your nutritional needs will change. You may need more of nutrients like vitamin D and calcium, along with more fiber. And you may need to cut back on sodium and saturated fats. Talk with your doctor or a nutrition expert about the best ways to change your diet to fit your needs. Learn more about what experts recommend for men’s diets at all ages.
How much exercise is right for me?
Exercise is an important component of overall health for everyone. Talk with your doctor about a comprehensive exercise program that includes aerobic exercise, strength training and exercises that improve balance and flexibility.But don’t start a new exercise program without consulting your physician.
Do I need to see any specialists?
Your doctor will likely recommend that you have your vision checked annually and have your hearing checked at a certain age. You should also consider seeing a dermatologist to have your skin checked every year.
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About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.