You're not alone. Many men avoid going to the physician for a variety of reasons. Maybe you're not comfortable talking about your health concerns, or perhaps you feel OK and simply don't see any apparent reason to visit the physician. It's important for men to schedule preventive visits with a qualified physician. Each visit gives you an opportunity to talk about your health behaviors and about how you can stay healthy. In addition, it's important to establish a working relationship with a physician in the event something unforeseen occurs or is found as a result of a visit or screening. Screening tests, such as colorectal cancer tests, can find diseases early when they are easier to treat. Some men need screening tests earlier, and more often than others. Talk to your physician about which of the tests listed below are right for you, when you should have them, and how often.
Should You Take Medicines to Prevent Disease?
- Cholesterol Checks: Have your cholesterol checked at least every five years, starting at age 35. If you smoke, have diabetes, or if heart disease runs in your family, start having your cholesterol checked at age 20.
- Blood Pressure: Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years.
- Colorectal Cancer Tests: Begin regular screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. Your physician can help you decide which test is right for you. How often you need to be tested will depend on which test you have.
- Diabetes Tests: Have a test to screen for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
- Depression: If you've felt "down," sad or hopeless, and have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things for two weeks straight, talk to your physician about whether he or she can screen you for depression.
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Talk to your physician to see whether you should be screened for sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV.
- Prostate Cancer Screening: Talk to your physician about the possible benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening if you are considering having a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test or digital rectal examination (DRE).
What Else Can You Do To Stay Healthy?
- Aspirin: Talk to your physician about taking aspirin to prevent heart disease if you are older than 40, or if you are younger than 40 and have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or if you smoke.
- Immunizations: Stay up-to-date with your immunizations:
- Have a flu shot every year starting at age 50.
- Have a tetanus-diphtheria shot every 10 years.
- Have a pneumonia shot once at age 65 (you may need it earlier if you have
certain health problems, such as long disease).
- Talk to your physician to see whether you need hepatitis B shots.
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- Don't Smoke. But if you do smoke, talk to your physician about quitting. You can take medicine and get counseling to help you quit. Make a plan and set a quit date. Tell your family, friends and co-workers you are quitting. Ask for their support.
- Eat a Healthy Diet. Eat a variety of foods, including fruit, vegetables, animal or vegetable protein (such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, tofu or tempeh) and grains (such as rice). Limit the amounts of saturated fat you eat.
- Be Physically Active. Walk, dance, ride a bike, rake leaves or do any other physical activity you enjoy. Start small and work up to a total of 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week.
- Stay at a Healthy Weight. Balance the number of calories you eat with the number you burn off by your activities. Remember to watch portion sizes. Talk to your physician if you have questions about what or how much to eat.
- Drink Alcohol Only in Moderation. If you drink alcohol, have no more than two drinks a day. A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of proof distilled spirits.