It’s a good time of year for men to take stock of their health. A regular wellness exam is a front-line habit that can result in health benefits for years to come.
“Men often feel like, ‘We’re invincible, we don’t need to go to the doctor,’” said Dr. Kevin Borgerding, a doctor of internal medicine in Steamboat Springs and a member of the medical staff at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. “But even if you’re healthy, there are certain things we want to assess with screening. From cardiovascular health and mental health, to overall lifestyle habits and cancer screenings, it makes sense to keep tabs on your health and strive for preventative efforts.”
Below, Borgerding outlines the benefits of wellness exams for men.
Look at the big picture
During a wellness exam, a medical provider reviews overall health, so is able to catch potential health issues that may span various organ systems or aspects of life.
Expect your medical provider to review exercise habits, overall diet, weight and body mass index or BMI, hearing and vision, blood pressure and heart health, the gastrointestinal system and the musculoskeletal system, and more. Your provider should also make sure your immunizations are up-to-date, and review your sleep and stress levels.
“It’s very comprehensive,” Borgerding said. “We’re looking at the total well-being of an individual. Stress, substance abuse, sports injuries – we cover all of those things.”
Check off major screenings
There are several health screenings that men should consider, all of which can be done through a regular wellness exam. Screening for colorectal cancer is very effective and is recommended beginning at age 50 for most individuals, though some may benefit from starting at age 45 based on new guidelines. Prostate cancer screening is often recommended around the same age, though may be useful earlier depending on a man’s family history and ethnicity.
“To determine when to start prostate cancer screening, it’s best to have an informed discussion with your provider,” Borgerding said.
Skin cancer screening is especially important in high altitude areas where patients are exposed to more harmful ultraviolet rays.
And regular blood work can keep tabs on blood sugar, cholesterol, as well as liver, kidney and thyroid function.
You won’t surprise your doctor
Don’t be afraid to talk openly with your provider about any potential health concerns.
“In general, men are less likely to be forthcoming about personal issues than women. But they should feel comfortable about communicating with their provider,” Borgerding said. “I’ve seen it all and heard it all, so there’s nothing they’re going to say that’s going to shock me.”
A wellness exam doesn’t have to be yearly
Depending on a man’s age, current health and family history, a regular wellness exam may only need to happen every two or three years.
But starting at age 50, all men are encouraged to have a wellness exam every year.
“Things can change,” Borgerding said. “Having a regular wellness exam can help catch changes in weight, psycho-social situations and chronic health challenges.”
Find your motivation
It shouldn’t take a health scare for someone to decide to get a regular wellness exam. Men who are married or who have children can consider it a gift to their family.
“Fathers out there may want to think about more than themselves,” Borgerding said. “They’ve got to be thinking about their spouse and their children.”
And studies show that people who are more aware of their health are more likely to be healthier.
“If you pay more attention to your health, then you tend to do better overall,” Borgerding said. “People who seek out regular medical visits are often more motivated and tend to thrive with their health in the long-term.”
This article first appeared in the Steamboat Pilot & Today.