DON'T IG­NORE THEM

The an­nual health check-ups men need to do

Monthly Chronicle - - Front Page - Dr Ge­off McGrath

An­nual health check­ups are your doc­tor’s way of check­ing the body for any pos­si­ble signs of ill­nesses or dis­eases. Men in their thir­ties usu­ally don’t feel like vis­it­ing their GPs un­less there is some sort of sick­ness.

But once you cross the age of 40, it is the per­fect time to start to make a con­nec­tion with your reg­u­lar doc­tor. This gives you a chance to dis­cuss cur­rent health con­cerns, fam­ily his­tory and life­style is­sues that could im­pact on future health. Ad­dress­ing is­sues early is the best ap­proach to longevity and there is a lot of sense in the say­ing “pre­ven­tion is bet­ter than cure”. In other words, it is bet­ter to put a fence at the top of the cliff in­stead of hav­ing an am­bu­lance wait­ing at the bot­tom.

What an an­nual health check- up might be like

When you first visit the GP for an an­nual checkup, it starts with a se­ries of ques­tions to take your med­i­cal his­tory and learn more about your body, re­lat­ing to fam­ily and med­i­cal his­tory, pre­vi­ous use of medicine, pre­vi­ous surg­eries or pro­ce­dures, life­style, food al­ler­gies, al­co­hol con­sump­tion, smok­ing, drug use, ex­er­cise and sleep habits, sex­ual health and diet.

These ques­tions help the GP un­der­stand your phys­i­cal and men­tal health, putting them in a bet­ter po­si­tion to iden­tify any ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in your health pat­terns that may re­quire cor­rect­ing or mon­i­tor­ing.

By hav­ing a reg­u­lar GP this ex­ten­sive back­ground in­for­ma­tion is not re­quired at each visit. By see­ing mul­ti­ple doc­tors for quick con­sul­ta­tions makes it very dif­fi­cult for one doc­tor to give ad­e­quate gen­eral health ad­vice and fol­low up on any in­ves­ti­ga­tion. You will feel more com­fort­able dis­cussing per­sonal de­tails if a good pa­tient­doc­tor re­la­tion­ship has de­vel­oped.

The phys­i­cal check- up

The phys­i­cal check-up will in­clude the fol­low­ing but will not be lim­ited to: • Mea­sure­ment of height and weight • A lis­ten to your chest • Blood pressure taken • Pos­si­bly check your tummy • A vis­ual check of your skin • Look for signs of any phys­i­cal dis­com­fort.

De­pend­ing on the an­swers to these checks, the GP might re­quest a blood or urine test from the lab­o­ra­tory for fur­ther di­ag­no­sis. Once the re­sults of the test are with the doc­tor, your health his­tory will be dis­cussed and the doc­tor will go over any con­cerns based on the recorded in­for­ma­tion.

While many men may not be jumping to­wards the prospect of a rec­tal exam or a tes­tic­u­lar exam, the pos­si­ble need for these ex­am­i­na­tions should also be dis­cussed.

Can­cer, de­pres­sion, hy­per­ten­sion, di­a­betes and obe­sity are some of the most com­mon ill­nesses that can be helped through early de­tec­tion. There are health pro­grams that a doc­tor can re­fer to and help you get started on, even be­fore the disease sets in.

Fre­quency of check- ups

De­pend­ing on the in­for­ma­tion gath­ered at the ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion, there will be fol­low up of tests they have or­dered. De­pend­ing on the in­di­vid­ual’s age, ex­am­i­na­tion find­ings and test re­sults, an in­di­vid­ual may need to be seen ev­ery six months - or vis­its could be stretched to ev­ery two years.

Pre­ven­tion, pre­ven­tion, pre­ven­tion

If there is a fam­ily his­tory of prostate can­cer, bowel can­cer, heart disease or stroke, reg­u­lar check ups are the best way to pre­vent and min­imise any form of disease or ill­nesses in the future. By hav­ing a reg­u­lar doc­tor who knows your his­tory makes it eas­ier for them to ad­vise which blood tests and in­ves­ti­ga­tions are ap­pro­pri­ate for you. Once this in­for­ma­tion is ob­tained, your doc­tor will be able to in­form you as to how fre­quently you should be seen.

Dr Ge­off McGrath is a Gen­eral Prac­ti­tioner at the Fox Val­ley Med­i­cal Cen­tre, Wahroonga

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