Why men need to visit the doctor more often
February 01 2018 09:23 PM
Dr Subramaniyan Kuppusamy

Do you agree that men are generally reluctant to visit doctors for regular check-ups?
Most men only consult with a specialist when they realise that there may be an underlying health condition that is affecting their quality of life. However, we do see a lot of men these days who take responsibility for their health. They are aware of what good health is and consider it important to get checked up regularly. Even with reference to conversations about generic health awareness, it is always women’s health that is focused on majorly. This could also be a causative factor, as men are less aware of various health conditions that could affect them.

When do they usually decide to see a doctor?
Generally, men wait until there is a serious health issue affecting their daily routine and quality of life in order to consult with a specialist.

Why men don’t go to the doctor 
* Too busy to go 
* Afraid of finding out what might be wrong 
* Getting uncomfortable body examinations ex prostate or rectal examination
* Personal questions my doctor may ask me
* Not wanting to be naked under gown
You’re getting some of the most sensitive parts of your body examined, we as physicians are very much aware about the sensitivity in some of these private organs.

Does this have to do with cultural upbringing, because men feel they are strong and shouldn’t appear weak? Is it only with one culture or does it happen across all cultures? We would like to understand why men stay in denial when facing a problem.
Sometimes it does depend on the cultural upbringing of people from different backgrounds with lack of awareness and insight. Some men do feel they are strong and shouldn’t appear weak. However, this varies with different cultures globally. Men, who usually stay in denial as mentioned above, are ones from different backgrounds and cultures and have different priorities in life. They don’t take their health problems seriously unless they are affected in their routine life.

What are the signs of poor health that need to be looked out for? What shouldn’t be ignored?
Most men only visit a doctor when they experience severe symptoms indicating that they have a serious health concern. The most common reason given for not visiting  a doctor is because they are healthy, although how do you know that you are healthy? There are a lot of medical conditions that do not depict any physical symptoms until they get severe.
Moreover, there is a difference between feeling healthy and being healthy. If you are healthy, ensure that you visit a specialist and confirm the same by ruling out the possibilities of any health issue. Some of the commonly disregarded symptoms that shouldn’t be are;
* Acid reflux, most people mistake this to be gas as a result of over eating. Most people suffer from acid reflux at some point in life but for a lot of people this could lead to a chronic lifelong condition. Frequent acid reflux can lead to severe complications and must be reported to a doctor.
* Chest Pain, often misinterpreted for a symptom related to that of a heart condition, it is often ignored until it gets severe. Firstly it is important to understand that chest pain does not always signify a heart problem, it could also be caused due to gastroesophageal reflux disease and other health conditions.
* Frequent urination, it is a common sign of diabetes should be noted. Diabetes is a chronic condition that drastically affects life of those suffering from it, if left uncontrolled.
* Snoring, rather excessive snoring is a common condition that a lot of people may have been experiencing for a long time. This could be due to an underlying condition called obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring is not harmful, but obstructive sleep apnea could lead to many clinical conditions like hypertension, lack of concentration, metabolic syndrome and strokes, if left untreated.

There are also other symptoms that men should watch out for, however the aforementioned are the most basic and common symptoms that are often disregarded.

What can be done to change this perception that they do not need to see a doctor. How much can partners and family help to encourage men to see a doctor?

The most important step is to educate men in order to equip them with the understanding of health issues that they could suffer from and its health consequences. Partners and family need to be more involved in the health of the men of the family. Encourage men to get checked regularly and visit the doctor to get regular screenings in order to rule out the possibilities of any health concerns.

Is the new generation better than the older generation or does this have to do with all men?
The younger generation is definitely more aware and health conscious as they are more tech savvy and updated with the latest health information.

What are the typical diseases they can get?
Health conditions that can affect men are;
* Diabetes
* Hypertension
* Cardiovascular diseases
* Cancers, particularly cancer of the prostate, lung and liver
* Stroke
* Respiratory diseases
* Alzheimer’s
* Depression
* Urological conditions etc. to name a few

How often should a man go to the doctor, anyway?
How often a man should go for a preventive check-up depends a lot on age and health, which accounts for the complex medical screening guidelines. Men need to meet with their primary care doctors to come up with a check-up schedule tailored to their health and lifestyle. Your doctor will come up with an individualised plan with you based on the following guidelines:
Every 2 years... 
Men ages 18 to 39 should have their blood pressure checked every two years , but if it reaches a certain threshold, it should be checked yearly.
Every 3 years
Men ageing 45 and older should be screened for diabetes every three years, but if they are overweight the screening should start at a younger age.
Every 5 years... 
Men over age 35 should be screened for high cholesterol and heart disease prevention every five years, but if they have diabetes, they should be screened more often.
Men with no family history of colon cancer or polyps should be screened for colorectal cancer.
Every five to ten years between the ages of 50 to 75, but the screening should start earlier if they do have a family history.
You can’t go rent another body and you can’t go use someone else’s body, It’s all you have, so why not take good care of it as you do everything outside your body that has a price tag?

* Dr Subramaniyan Kuppusamy MBBS, MD (Emergency Medicine) Specialist- Emergency Medicine Aster Hospital, Doha

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