Guys – don’t give up on the doctor



Winston Plunkett, MD
McLeod Family Medicine Center

Men are the brains when it comes to finding reasons not to see the doctor. “I feel good” is usually the thought process. You may be feeling great, but the truth is that there can be underlying health issues that you are not aware of that can easily be managed and controlled with regular doctor’s visits. Cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight are just a few of the health issues that should be monitored by a primary care provider. One of the most important things you can do for your health is to schedule and show up for annual visits with your primary care provider.

Here are some other health risks you should be aware of:

Must go?

Do you spend a lot of time running to the bathroom? Bladder problems are common in men. Most involve difficulty urinating or going too often. If you go more than eight times a day or more than twice a night, the problem could be more than a nuisance. It could be a sign of a medical problem like an enlarged prostate or an overactive bladder. Overactive bladder is a relatively common condition, with approximately 33 million Americans living with it daily, according to the Urology Care Foundation. The reality of this number is perhaps even higher, as many men experience the symptoms but never seek help. The first step is to see your primary care provider to determine the cause of the problem. In most cases, the problem can be treated.

To have a heart

Do you think you can’t have a heart attack? If you have heart disease in your family, it can affect you as early as your 30s. The average age for a first heart attack in men is 65. But, up to four to 10 percent of all heart attacks occur before the age of 45 and most of them occur in men.

Heart problems are all too familiar with younger men. Heart disease is the most common cause of death in men aged 35 to 44. You are never too young to start planning for your heart health. The American Heart Association now recommends that people start thinking about preventing heart disease when they are 20 years old.

Ways to fend off heart disease for as long as possible or to prevent it completely include:

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week
  • Eat well – a diet low in unhealthy fats and high in fruits and vegetables
  • Lose weight if needed
  • Do not smoke
  • Reduce emotional stress

Don’t ignore snoring

The anatomy of the upper respiratory tract between men and women is the reason why more men snore than women. Snoring occurs when the soft tissue in the upper respiratory tract collapses, producing vibrations as air passes through the smaller space. Men have longer upper airways and a wider roof of the mouth, which makes the male airways more vulnerable to collapse.

Gaining weight increases the risk of snoring and sleep apnea in men and women, but is more likely to be a problem for men because they tend to take more fat around the upper organs of the body. body.

About half of men who snore have obstructive sleep apnea. Not only is it annoying for your sleeping partner, it can make you stop breathing for a few seconds and is linked to heart disease and high blood pressure. If you notice excessive daytime sleepiness, or if your partner has witnessed difficulty breathing while you sleep, ask your healthcare professional to get tested for obstructive sleep apnea.


In the United States, women are more likely than men to have routine dental check-ups. Regular check-ups prevent oral problems, but can also reveal symptoms like diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and lupus.

According to studies from the Academy of General Dentistry and the American Dental Association, the average man is more likely to develop gum disease – 11% of men compared to 6% of women. Having gum disease can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Watch for signs of gum disease such as red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, or loose teeth. People who smoke or chew tobacco are at greater risk of gum disease and oral cancer. Visit your dentist frequently for a thorough cleaning and screening for oral cancer.


More women than men are diagnosed with anxiety and are more likely to seek treatment. But, men are just as likely to suffer from anxiety. They just don’t show it the same way. For a man, feeling anxiety is often seen as a weakness, and his perception of it as an expression is unacceptable. Men can display their anxiety in the form of aggression, which tends to be more socially acceptable.

Anxiety in men is often manifested by the following symptoms:

  • Anger and irritability
  • Headache
  • Sleeping troubles
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Alcohol and drug abuse to cope
  • Tight relationships

Almost nine percent of men feel anxious or depressed on a daily basis, but less than half take medication or seek help. Men who do not receive professional help may turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with anxiety. Research has shown a link between substance abuse and mental health disorders, particularly in men. Anyone who finds it difficult to cope with the daily stresses of life should speak to their doctor.

Skin cancer

Men, especially those with lighter skin, are more likely than women to have skin cancer, including melanoma. A survey conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology found that women are more inclined to wear sunscreen and tend to be more aware of the dangers of sun exposure.

It’s never too late to start using sunscreen. Regular use of sunscreen reduces the risk of skin cancer by up to 50 percent. It also helps repel wrinkles, age spots, and leathery, weathered skin. Protect yourself with sunscreen every time you go out, not just on golf or beach days. When combined with other sun protection like hats and protective clothing, sunscreen can reduce the risk of skin cancer at any age.

Eat your vegetables

Don’t settle for a meat and potato diet. Eating four to five servings of fruits and vegetables each day is important for heart-healthy nutrition. This reduces the risk of stroke, cancer, or digestive problems and helps control blood sugar. Seven of the top 10 causes of death in the United States are due to chronic illnesses. Eating a daily diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of disease, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and obesity.

In addition to caring for patients at the McLeod Family Medicine Center, Dr. Winston Plunkett is a faculty member at the McLeod Family Medicine Residency Program. Dr Plunkett is accepting new patients. Appointments can be made by calling (843) 777-2800.


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