Which Checkups should I have done and when?

Which Checkups should I have done and when?

In 2011, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) billboard in Los Angeles, US said, “This year thousands of men will die from stubbornness.” Their premise was based on the fact that men don’t have regular checkups and many will only go to a doctor if their wives nag them repeatedly or they have an urgent concern about their health.

It also doesn’t help that in the United States, the American Medical Association has said that medical checkups don’t have to be every year but every 5 years. It should be noted though that after age of 40, their stance changes and reverts back to annual checkups or more often if a male has maintenance drugs.

40 is the New 30s

Like women, men in their forties can be as healthy as those in their 30s provided they see a GP, dentist, and optometrist at least once a year. At 40, men are usually not sickly and any early signs can be addressed quickly so it does not escalate to something more serious. Fortunately, technology and medical advancement has made it possible for medical exams and lab tests to be cost effective and quick.

At 40, men should start a relationship with a doctor they can trust for their lifetime. It’s hard to establish a trusting relationship when you’re in the emergency room and in your 60s. Not only do you become a statistic, you suffer and spend more because you don’t have a professional familiar with your medical history.

The Checkups Recommended for A Man in his 40s and 50s

Men in their 40s and 50s are generally stressed, overworked, poor eyesight, have added a few pounds, and are potentially diabetic, hypertensive, or have high bad cholesterol.  This would sum up the features of a basic annual checkup. Don’t limit yourself to the basic exam because at this age, you are also entering a different stage in medical health. You will need the following tests done as well.

Prostate and Colon Cancer Screening

Prostate cancer is the leading cancer among men globally. In South Africa, awareness of this type of cancer is low in spite of the fact that it has the highest rate among all cancer types as of 2008. Fortunately, with early detection, the survival rate past the 5 year survival rate is excellent.

Colorectal cancer is also very prevalent but with modern advances in medical technology, early detection has shown a drop of 30% on death from colon cancer in the past 5 years for men over 50. It is important to understand that screening should start at age 40 to 45 because according to the US study, patients diagnosed with colon cancer under the age of 50 tend to have other symptoms which lead to the wrong diagnosis. By the time the cancer is detected, it could be in a more advanced stage.

Osteoporosis Screening

While women should be screened for osteoporosis in their 30s, men should do the same once they hit their 40s. Since peak bone mass is achieved around age 20, by the time you are in your 40s or 50s, you will have 35% loss of peak bone mass.  This is a natural occurrence but you can find out through screening if your bones are becoming brittle and thin – and you can do something about it to avoid long term nursing care from a fracture or fall.

In summary, the biggest hurdle to men’s health care is the mindset and ego of men. This is a medical opinion of many (male and female) doctors. Men tend to put off seeing a doctor for several reasons including fear of finding out something is wrong. But you can deal with this fear so effectively by working on prevention – thus making doctors’ visit more palatable and painless. 

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