Why men should see a primary care physician
Published 7:55 am Saturday, June 17, 2023
Having a primary care physician aids in living a healthy lifestyle. Patients establish an ongoing relationship with a primary care doctor by scheduling annual exams, discussing health concerns and addressing any issues, which allows the doctor to monitor a patient’s overall health over time.
It may not be surprising to hear that men often do not prioritize their health by putting off visits to the primary doctor until necessary when something is wrong. In June, Men’s Health Month is observed to encourage healthy living and routine doctor visits. This is also a time to highlight men’s health issues, such as chronic medical diseases. Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease and high cholesterol are known to cause men to die prematurely.
It’s important for men to have an established relationship with a primary care doctor when they are well, not just when they feel sick. An annual wellness exam is an important aspect of healthcare. During this visit, a physician can obtain and update your medical and family history, which can provide information on risk factors for certain illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, or some types of cancer. Additionally, an annual wellness exam allows your doctor to have a conversation with you regarding important health habits like tobacco use, alcohol intake, drug use, eating habits, and exercise. By having a clear picture of your baseline health status, your doctor can better take care of you if you are sick or injured.
When visiting a primary care doctor regularly, men can start building a trusting relationship that improves their health because they will feel more comfortable talking about sensitive health topics that otherwise could negatively affect their health if ignored. Also, patients are more likely to engage in appropriate health screenings, adhere to medications, and make specific healthy choices if directed by a trusted individual who has shown to have their best health in mind. Visiting a primary care physician is a time to discuss immunizations.
Screenings help in preventing chronic disease. Some common screenings discussed for men include blood pressure screening done every visit and cholesterol screening beginning at age 35 or younger if affected by certain risk factors such as being overweight, having high blood pressure or cholesterol and a family history of diabetes. When men reach the age of 45, prostate and colon screenings should be completed.
Many studies have shown that people who have a regular primary care doctor have better health outcomes, lower risk of hospitalizations, and in general, receive more cost effective care. If the care needed is beyond the scope of a primary care physician and requires specialist consultation, the primary care doctor and the specialist can confer on the best treatment options for that patient.
Taking charge of your health by developing healthy habits and visiting a primary care physician is important. Find someone you feel comfortable with. Keeping up with your wellness and routine visits helps ensure you are staying healthy.
Dr. Mehul Sheth earned his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in family medicine at East Jefferson General Hospital. He is board-certified in family medicine and has been on staff since 2009. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Sheth at Ochsner Health Center – Kenner (200 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner), visit www.ochsner.org or call 504-464-8506.