Vail Daily column: Questions that men should ask their doctors |

Vail Daily column: Questions that men should ask their doctors

This may be a bit uncomfortable, but it’s for your own good. We know that men, in general, tend to shy away from visiting their doctors too readily.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Rockville, Md., states that men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year. Couple that with the reasonable assumption that most doctors visits last 10-15 minutes, and you have a perfect set-up for a truly ineffective doctor visit, one in which you walk away saying to yourself, “Darn, I forgot to ask this or that, or what did he say about this?”

From this point forward, men (and women) need to advocate for their own health — don’t rely on your memory to ask the tough questions or for your doctor to tell you what you think you need to hear. Prepare for your next doctor’s visit as you would for any meeting you would attend in your field of work — be thorough and unafraid to ask the tough questions.

Below are a few questions that men should consider asking their doctors, especially if you are over 50 years of age:

• How often should I be screened for prostate cancer? Having experienced this myself, PSA (prostate specific antigen) tests can be elevated for many reasons, even the normal aging process may increase the numbers. However, it is recommended that this particular screening be part of a total health review and your doctor will tell you how often the screening should be performed based on your overall health evaluation.

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• Many insurance plans are now covering preventative care (i.e., annual physicals). What are some of the screenings to expect or ask for? The answer: “High blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, fasting glucose or blood sugar levels should be tested every three years” (Source: Cleveland Clinic). Changes in these tests from year-to-year would warrant further investigation.

• Why is there blood in my urine (hematuria)? This is a concern that should be explored immediately. Possible reasons for this might be kidney infection, urinary tract infection, kidney stones, too much exercise, injury, a bleeding disorder, etc. Get it checked out.

• Why am I not sleeping well? The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 50 million to 70 million adults have some difficulty sleeping. Although we’ll know sleep trouble-makers such as caffeine and alcohol can easily be detected and controlled, other causes of poor sleep are less easily diagnosed, such as sleep apnea. A doctor’s intervention is a must in those situations.

• Are there any reasonable alternatives to taking the medications you are prescribing? We have come to be a society of quick fixes — pills are one of our big crutches. Ask your doctor if there are any alternatives to popping more pills. For example, often high blood pressure is a factor of lack of exercise or excessive weight — regular exercise may do the trick without medications.

• My sex life is not what it used to be. What could be wrong? As we age, our testosterone levels drop with the result often being a decrease in libido. It is not recommended to simply take a testosterone supplement as there are side effects that could be problematic to your overall health. And, your lack of interest or performance may have to do with other issues such as erectile dysfunction, excessive weight, medication side effects, etc. Again, a doctor is the person to direct such concerns.

As time goes on, our Western medicine gurus (our doctors) are beginning to understand that a holistic approach to one’s health makes sense. As a result of this burgeoning open-mindedness, Eastern medicine is slowly entering our treatment plans resulting in better and more effective outcomes for many patients. However, one truth still holds center court. If you aren’t feeling “right,” then you need to ask your doctor for his/her help.

With the help of the Internet, you can arm yourself with a vast amount of knowledge before you even see your physician allowing you to ask pointed questions that hopefully will assist your doctor in narrowing down the possible causes of what is ailing you. Medicine should be a team approach with you and your doctors. Ask questions, lots of questions. Nobody cares about your well-being like yourself, so take the initiative.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels in Eagle County. He may be reached or at 970-328-5526.

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