Let’s face it. Guys aren’t the best at reaching out for help. Just look around the gym. How many of us ask for a spotter when we’re attempting a heavy lift? Sure, you might be able to press the weight yourself, but lurking in the background, there is a potential risk for injury. Same goes with our health. Yea, we can avoid dealing with health issues, but what’s the cost? And potential consequences?
Most of us are not going to see the doctor if we are feeling fine. But that in itself is the first reason why you might want to consider seeing your health care provider. It’s called preventative medicine. Dr. Ann Li, a Toronto based family physician in private practice offers these five suggestions for when and why you might want to visit your health care provider before things start to go wrong.
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Catch It Early
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See your doctor to catch medical conditions early. Get screened for cancers that are common among men. According the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, prostate cancer is the number one cancer diagnosed in men, while colorectal cancer ranks at number three. Yet both are treatable, and early detection means more treatment options are available. For more information visit the CDC website at: www.cdc.gov
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Make sure you go for an annual visit to your health care provider. You may be feeling fine, but a check up can pick up conditions you may not be able to detect on your own such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or sexually transmitted diseases. All of these conditions can remain silent until a late stage when damage may have already set in.
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“Vaccination updates are absolutely crucial to prevent permanent morbidity and are potentially life-saving,” says Dr. Li. “Ask your doctor about vaccines for hepatitis A and B, shingles, pneumonia, meningitis, flu. And don’t forget inoculation against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which can cause cancer in the mouth and throat. There has been a sharp increase in HPV rates in men,” she adds.
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Don’t Shrug It Off
Is there a nagging recurring issue you’re dealing with that is not going away? Example: your workouts are OK, your form is good, so is your technique. But your joints ache disproportionate to your training intensity. You lay off for a bit and feel better, but the joint pain rebounds when you return to the gym. “In situations like this, it’s time to see your health care provider for a referral to a physical therapist,” says Kevin Okamura, a physical therapist practicing in Toronto. “Often there can be a subtle underlying issue
that may be contributing to the joint pain, such as spinal stiffness or irritation that is often assumed to be unrelated, if it is even noticed at all.” Bottom line suggests Kevin, “If it keeps bothering you, don’t shrug it off and think the problem will go away on its own. The sooner the rehab, the sooner you’re back in the gym.”
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Check Your Fluids
As avid lifters, we are hawks when it comes to nutrition, so when we notice we’ve put on a bit too many pounds, we reverse course, revise our diet and rev up our cardio. “But If you tend to gain weight around your mid-section (belly button area), you are putting yourself at an increased risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. See your health care provider to get your blood sugars and triglyceride levels checked,” says Daniella Wolf, Registered Dietitian who runs her own Nutrition Consulting Service in Toronto.
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Talk About It
It’s the hidden epidemic in society. And men tend not to talk about it for fear of being judged or looking weak. It’s called depressive illness.Yet six million American men will experience depression in any given year. And it’s killing us because we don’t talk about it. There’s no shame in having it, no shame in admitting it, and no shame in reaching out for help. It can save your life. If you’re finding it hard to cope, man up and see your health care provider or for more information visit the National Alliance for Mental Illness website at www.nami.org, or call their helpline at 800-950-6264.