12 tests for optimal men’s health
Other than removing the tooth of a five-year-old child, most women dread the pushing, prodding and cadjoling they have to engage in to get their male relatives to take an interest in their health and at least visit the doctor once a year for a complete physical–whether they are sick or not.
Many people–especially men–are of the misconception that a visit to the doctor is a waste of time and money if they aren’t physically sick, but medical officials say this is something they should think twice about.
Dr. Mortimer G. Moxey, a family physician at Dr. Mortimer Moxey Medical Practice on Beatrice Avenue in Monastery Park, says the occasional check-up does not even scratch the surface of maintaining good health for men.
“There are numeroust tests that the average man should undergo on a timely basis to ensure he is in tip-top shape,”says the doctor.”You can’t expect a visit to a doctor once every 10 years without something being amiss and it not being a major expense and headache to rectify if possible. So it is best to keep on top of whatever is going on in your body by at least getting a physical done by your family doctor annually.”
An annual physical is a thorough full-body check that your doctor can conduct in a simple office visit. Your heart rate, blood pressure, your weight, tongue, throat, defects with your sight or hearing, kidneys and liver are common things that will be checked. Men can also expect their doctor to want to feel for any oddities with their prostate which can be an early indicator of prostate cancer. It is also the time to disclose your family medical history; this way your physician can recommend any particular tests that you may need to ensure you don’t suffer similar ailments due to genetics.
Dr. Moxey says while it is recommended that all men have an annual physical for general health, even in their 20s, he says the yearly checkups become essential by age 40 and that you should expect tests to check your full blood count to determine your immunity status; a fasting blood sugar test to screen for diabetes or indicators of its development; cholesterol/lipids test to screen for plaque build up in blood vessels that can lead to heart attacks and strokes; electro cardiogram to screen for indicators of heart disease; chest x-ray to screen for lung cancers that often develop in smokers but also can in non-smokers; renal function test to determine the health of kidneys; liver function test to determine the health of your liver; thyroid test to examine the function of the thyroid gland; immunization shots and infectious disease tests to ensure you are protected from common ailments and clear of sexually transmitted diseases; stool test and colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer, parasites and other underlying ailments; and a prostate exam to screen for prostate cancer.
A BLOOD TEST IS THE SIMPLEST WAY TO SEE WHAT IS GOING ON IN YOUR BODY
“A full blood count is a simple blood test that can indicate many things about your health. It can tell your doctor if you are anemic or have cancers of the blood. It can also show if you have any hidden infections as well,” says Dr. Moxey.”Many times you may feel fluish but it goes away and comes back. You may think it a simple cold but a blood test can show if its actually a more serious problem. It can also show if someone has sickle cell anemia, a relatively common condition locally which can be treated. Taking blood is one of the simplest ways to see what is going on in your body.”
On this list for optimal male health is to get a fasting blood sugar test done. This is a test that requires the patient to not eat after 10 p.m. prior to the morning of the test. This will allow your physician to know what your blood sugar levels are like and if it is being regulated properly.
A cholesterol/lipids screen test is conducted similarly to the fasting blood sugar test. Results from this test can give an early indication of potential heart attacks, strokes or other major problems that arise from blockage of blood vessels due to plaque formations caused by elevated cholesterol levels. This test will also show the levels of good and bad cholesterol in the blood so that if there is an imbalance something can be done before it escalates into a more serious condition.
SCREEN YOUR HEART
“I think it is also a good idea for men to do an ECG(electrocardiogram)which is a heart screen test[that]will pick up early signs of coronary artery disease. If this is done early and a problem is found you can save yourself heartache and stress by dealing with the problem right away.”
Dr. Moxey says other tests like a stress test may be recommended by your doctor, and that even though they cost a pretty penny, he says they are always best when done as a preventative measure.
CHEST X-RAYS ARE IMPORTANT
The doctor says chest x-rays are an important test for men as well, especially for those who smoke, for cancer–which can develop in non-smokers as well. This test is also important for the everyday person because of pollution in the environment and the many untreated respiratory illnesses that most people may take for granted. Although your chest is generally checked in your annual physical, he says a chest x-ray will give the doctor a better view of what is going on so that nothing is missed.
RENAL FUNCTION AND LIVER FUNCTION TESTS
“Other tests that you will not want to miss out on are your renal function test and liver function test. These tests check your blood for any indicators that these major detoxification organs are underperforming. The levels of certain chemicals, enzymes and minerals in your blood are telltale signs if all is well or not so well. Finding this out early can save you from having to get a transplant or be placed on a dialysis machine.”
Something that many people don’t think to check for is the health of their thyroid, a hormonal gland found in the neck. If it is under-performing, it can cause weight gain, lack of energy and slow thinking. Early caught thyroid problems, he said, can be easily remedied.
UPDATE YOUR IMMUNIZATIONS
Ensuring that your immunization status is up-to-date is also essential. The doctor advises that you not assume that because you did many of the major immunization tests as a child that you do not have to do them as an adult. He says some tests need to be re-taken every few years like the tetanus shot which is re-administered every 10 years and the influenza shot that can be taken annually.
GET TESTED FOR SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES
Getting a blood test annually to ensure you do not have any sexually transmitted diseases like HIV or Hepatitis B is also a must according to the family physician–even if you use condoms. He says taking the test is good for your own peace of mind. He also suggests a urine test to check for chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Another important test for men is a stool test to screen for colon cancer, a disease which the doctor says is more prevalent in younger men. This examination requires you not to eat red meat at least three days prior to your visit. The results from the test can also determine if there is occult blood in the stool which can indicate to the medical professional that there is an underlying problem. Oddities such such as worms or parasite cysts and ova can also be found with this test.
For men over 50-years of age, it is important to do a colonoscopy exam as well. The doctor says it is a more invasive exam that uses a camera to examine the colon for polyps, cancer and other abnormal growths. It’s an exam he says which should be taken every 10 years in men who do not have any family history of colon cancer, whose results from a first test is normal, and who show no symptoms indicating a problem like blood in the stool.”Taking a prostate cancer exam is a test that men do not want to miss annually,”says Dr. Moxey.
The standard test for this is a Prostate Specific Antigen(PSA)test which is a blood test. He says some men may already have done a rectal exam in which the doctor feels their prostate manually during their annual physical, but to go a step beyond to ensure they are in good health, he says, they can do a digital rectal exam which the Bahamas Cancer Society recommends.”This method is not fully supported by other sources, but as it is what we have I would say to still do it. Right now there is a new, more sensitive instrument on the market that gives more accurate results called the Prostate Cancer Antigen 3(PCA3)test. These are both urine analysis tests. Although it is recommended to do these tests annually once you are 40 years old, if your family history shows a prevalence for certain ailments, it is important to take tests at least 10 years before the youngest person to develop it was diagnosed,” he says.
CHECK YOURSELF MENTALLY AS WELL
Dr. Moxey says that while it is important to focus on the physical health of the body he also encourages men to talk to their doctors about any psychological or emotional stresses they may be suffering in the different everyday spheres of their lives.
“This is a side of men’s health that’s important, but people do not even think twice about. After taking care of the physical man by taking all the necessary tests, it is time to take care of his mental state. Men tend to hide their feelings, express them badly or bottle them up, but doing this is hazardous to the health. Excess stress and being on edge because you can’t express yourself properly at work, church or home is one of the top reasons for ailments in men. Your doctor should be able to sit and talk to you about issues you may have, and can recommend another doctor or tests for you if you have a serious problem that can be identified.”
The physician says that many people–even men–go through depression and don’t know it. Additionally, he says people should realize that poor anger management and emotional imbalance due to psychological or emotional issues are problems that can be resolved. He says if done in time, these mental tests can keep men from developing diseases due to stress, or succumb to illnesses that can be successfully treated. Dr. Moxey stresses that men ensure that they take care of their mental health as much as they take care of their physical. He says focusing only on one half is half of the puzzle.
Annual exams men should take
•Full blood count test to determine your immunity status.
•Fasting blood sugar test to screen for diabetes or indicators of its development.
•Cholesterol/lipid tests to screen for plaque build-up in blood vessels that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
•Electrocardiogram to screen for indicators of heart disease.
•Chest X-ray to screen for lung cancers that often develop in smokers but also can in non-smokers.
•Renal function test to determine the health of kidneys.
•Liver function test to determine the health of your liver.
•Thyroid test to examine the function of the thyroid gland.
•Immunization shots and infectious disease tests to ensure you are protected from common ailments and clear of sexually transmitted diseases.
•Stool test and colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer, parasites and other underlying ailments.
•Prostate exam to screen for prostate cancer.