One of the most important things a man can do for his health is to get the right screening test at the right time. Although we find it tiresome to visit the doctor and often think we’re in wonderful health, the truth is that we need to be proactive about our health.
Look at it this way: Get these tests done, and you’ll spend less time at the doctor’s office in the future. Skip them, and you’d better get used to robes that open in the back…
Depending on your family history, age and lifestyle factors, men need different tests at different times in their lives. Here’s a look at some of the medical tests every man should make sure to have at the right time, before it is too late. No one wants to have a “Hindsight is 20/20” moment when it comes to your health.
If you maintain a healthy weight and do not have any other risk factors for the disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, it may never be necessary for you to obtain a screening for diabetes. Ask your doctor. But for most men over 45, especially if you’re packing a few extra pounds, it is a stellar idea to get an A1C test, or a fasting plasma glucose test. These are both blood tests that need to be done at your doctor’s office.
Experts tell us the overall risk for cardiovascular disease is higher in men than women, and high cholesterol often plays a big role in that equation. According to the American Heart Association, men should get their cholesterol levels checked every 4 to 6 years once we reach twenty. Your doctor may recommend that you get screened more often if you have risk factors for heart disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or if you use tobacco.
Like high cholesterol, high blood pressure often does not come with any symptoms. But fortunately, the test for hypertension is quick and painless. All it involves is a rubber cuff that will squeeze your arm and measure blood flow through a large artery in your bicep.
Experts say you should get your blood pressure checked every time you visit your doctor. If you don’t see your doctor regularly, make sure that you get your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years, or every year if your doctor previously considered your numbers borderline.
Most men should get a colon cancer screening beginning at age 50, but if you have a family history of colon cancer you may benefit from scheduling the test earlier. Although both men and women tend to dread getting this test done, a colonoscopy won’t be as uncomfortable as you might think, since you’re sedated throughout the process. And the bright and sunny news is that if nothing suspicious is found, depending on what your doctor advises, you may not need another colonoscopy for up to 10 years.
Screening for prostate cancer is a somewhat controversial when compared to other cancers. There have been studies showing that these tests can be pricey and perhaps unnecessary, and may also be more harmful than beneficial. However, experts recommend that all men above the age of 50 should, at minimum, have a discussion with their doctors about what he or she advises. After all, we’re talking about precious body parts here.
In the meantime, you should talk to your doctor to make sure you know the symptoms of an enlarged prostate – like having problems urinating or having to urinate frequently than normal – which could also be an indicator of trouble. You should keep in mind that screenings for prostate cancer can and do save many lives.
Certain tests are crucial for men, no matter how healthy and fit we think we are. If you’ve been neglecting visiting your doctor, now’s the time to change that. Visit your healthcare professional regularly and make sure you’re both on the same page about which medical tests you need to get done, and when. Don’t be one of those guys who learns too late how precious your good health really is.