Annual visit to the doctor: a good time to kick a few tires of your own

PORTLAND, Ore. — Men’s Health Month is June, the month of Father’s Day.

Fathers and non-fathers alike, what better gift to give yourself than the gift of health? asks Mary Engrav, a CareOregon medical director.

To do it, men of all ages might just have to overcome one of their favorite habits: avoiding the doctor’s office. Most men would rather talk about news, sports, their jobs, the horsepower of their lawnmowers or just about anything rather than their health.

Here’s an analogy that may help explain to men why going in to visit the doctor is a good idea even though you’re not feeling sick and nothing’s broken or bleeding.

Think of your annual wellness visit like changing the oil in a car when it’s still running like a champ. To keep it running great, you follow the manufacturer’s preventive maintenance specifications.

People have preventive maintenance specs, too. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations is a research-based list of what people need to do for their health. And one of them is to get regular checkups and talk with your health care provider about blood pressure, weight, diet, exercise, drug and alcohol use.

And smoking. The greatest cause of death is heart disease, and one of the primary factors for heart disease is smoking.

Here are a couple of other good topics to talk about. Think of them as checking the air filter and fluids when you’re in for that oil change.

“Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer for men,” says Dr. Engrav. “If you detect it early, survival rate is five times that of cancers discovered in their late stages.

Ask your doctor about recommendations for colon cancer screening based on your age, family history and other risk factors. Your doctor might recommend a colonoscopy every 10 years (or more, depending on your personal risk factors), or a FIT test you can take at home (but you need to do it every year).

If you have a few miles on your personal odometer, be sure to talk about other preventive measures you might need.

“If you’re over 50, it’s also a good idea to ask whether you should be taking an aspirin every day,” Dr. Engrav says.

It’s recommended that pneumonia vaccinations start at age 65, and shingles vaccine at age 50.

Finally, there is this: If you find a good mechanic, you stick with them, right?

“Having a strong, regular relationship with a primary care provider is a very good gift you can give your health,” Dr. Engrav says.

For information, contact Jeanie Lunsford, 503-416-3626, lunsfordj@careoregon.org.