By Carolina Boyd, Communications Associate
Father’s Day will soon be here; making this occasion a good time to remind the men in your to life to focus on their health. June 14-20, 2021 has been designated Men’s Health Week. This yearly observance helps to bring awareness about preventable health issues while encouraging early detection and treatment of disease in men and boys.
It is no secret that men seek medical care less often than women do, even when dealing with serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes or cancer. On average, men will die almost five years earlier than women will. There are many reasons men avoid visiting their doctors. The strongest of all may be fear of the unknown.
“Fear is one of the top reasons that men avoid doctors, especially if they sense there could a bad diagnosis or a negative clinical outcome,” said Dr. Pathik Desai, Family Medicine Physician at Legacy Community Health. “The hesitancy often comes from not wanting to feel vulnerable. It’s difficult for many men to discuss sensitive health issues so they simple avoid them, even if addressing those health conditions could potentially transform their lives.”
According to the nonprofit educational group, The Men’s Health Network, men traditionally die at higher rates than women do from the top 10 causes of deaths in the United States. Those include heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, chronic liver disease and suicide. Regular health screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, colon and prostate cancer can help reduce the risk for illness and disease.
“We need to teach men to get regular checkups earlier in life. Unfortunately, by the time many men come to care, chronic diseases have already started to affect them,” said Dr. Justin Lantz, Adult Primary Care Physician at Legacy Community Health. “We need to work on a health care system that teaches every person, early on, what it means to be healthy as well as how to maintain and advocate for their own health.”
Men can lower their risk of chronic disease by making smart lifestyle changes to improve their overall health. Those include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Stop smoking
- Limiting alcohol usage
- Managing stress
- Practicing safe sex
“While it may sound scary at first, changing your habits and becoming more active can significantly enhance your quality of life and longevity. Simple changes really do help over time,” said Desai.
Family member and friends can also play a role in encouraging the men in their lives to get regular checkups, as well as help those same men take charge of their health. Simply being more open and honest about health issues can help reluctant males in their decisions to get treatment.
“It’s wonderful to have people who care about you and your health. A lot of my male patients tell me that they are at their appointment because a partner, parent or friend made them come,” said Lantz.
Legacy provides patients with an array of services including adult/pediatric primary care, LGBTQ/transgender services, vision and dental. In addition, health educators, registered dieticians, and trainers are also an option at Legacy to help men learn about diet and exercise. Log on to the Legacy’s website or call 832-542-5000 to schedule an appointment.