Most men would check the car before a long trip. Pilots always do a walk-around inspection of their craft before they “kick the tires and light the fires.” Guys mostly favor specific gauges on their cars’ dashboards and look down on simple warning lights as the stuff of softies. Why, then, do so many men walk around not knowing their cholesterol level, blood pressure, or TSA (the tell-tale indicator of prostate cancer)?
When to See a Pro
Even men in their seemingly invulnerable 20s show signs of plaque in their arteries from cholesterol buildup, so it’s hard to say when to start the regimen of an annual physical exam from your family physician, including “blood work.” Most would say that at least after age 50, it’s a priority you should set every year. The sample of blood you give at a lab a few days before your annual physical returns so much more than the minimal time and effort it called for. In that sample, your doctor has a detailed landscape of how your innards are working. Liver and kidney function, the presence of inflammation or infection, the list goes on and on.
The intel you gain from this annual discipline could save your life.
Add to this routine “physical” an annual skin-scan – a quick, head-to-toe once-over from a trained professional to catch signs of skin cancer – and now you’re in the driver’s seat. Your own, on-going, self-exam checks have an important part to play in your health screening, but D-I-Y is only part of a successful plan. Keep an ongoing eye on your own skin for changes in moles and growths, because one of the biggest cancer risks we live with here in the sunny South is the risk of skin cancer. Still, are you going to bet your life on your own ability to tell the difference between a mole, a freckle, and a life-threatening melanoma? It’s just another example of how important it can be to have a family physician on our side.
What to Know on Your Own
With high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, stroke and heart disease among men’s leading life-enders, monitoring your own weight weekly is one of the best self-checks you can do. Know where you stand on the standard Body Mass Index (BMI). Yes, we know it’s not perfect. For one thing, it doesn’t by itself account for the higher density of quality muscle mass that’s present in athletes. But it’s a start, and it’s a good barometer, a focus for your ongoing awareness.
And another thing. How you feel is important. Yes, many of us were brought up to face life with quiet courage, and we’re thankful for that. Yet knowing the difference between a bad day or two and depression could save your life. Prolonged periods of feeling down are not normal, not healthy and not something we have to put up with.
Don’t ignore your own state of mind, doctors say. And be willing to ask for help. Yes, it’s a simple idea but it’s a tough one, given the roles we take on in our culture. If you’re feeling too sad, or sad for too long, then step up and speak up.
We’d be happy to be part of team you count on to be in the driver’s seat of a happy, healthy life. Just call us at 843-815-6468.