Don't wait until you have a health problem to get to know and feel comfortable with your health care providers. Routine checkups and screenings can help you stay at the top of your game and prevent health problems or identify them early on, when they are most treatable. Some health conditions, such as an enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, testicular pain and low testosterone levels, which can lead to sexual or mood problems, are specific to men. And although life expectancy is on the rise, men still tend to engage in riskier behaviors and are less likely to adopt health-promoting habits than women, which can threaten short- and long-term health. For example, men tend to smoke and drink more than women. Many men also define themselves by their careers, which can raise stress levels.
Staying on top of your health starts with good communication between you and your health care provider. When you and your health care provider work together to make decisions about your health, you are more likely to follow his or her instructions and follow them correctly. Speaking up also helps avoid mistakes, such as medication errors and problems with follow-up treatment.
Here are some tips to help you take a more active role in your health care:
Be prepared. Think about what you want to accomplish during your health care visit. Write down specific symptoms you're experiencing, as well as a complete list of the medications you're taking, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal and vitamin supplements. You may also want to do a little digging to learn about the condition you want to discuss.
Ask questions. Make a list of your top questions to share with your health care provider. Other questions may arise during your visit. For example, he or she may recommend a test and you should take the time to ask about the test, what it's for and what to expect.
Manage expectations. You may not get to all of your concerns and questions due to time constraints. If you run out of time during an office visit, consider scheduling another appointment to continue the conversation.
Take notes. Jot down important information during the visit. It may be hard to absorb and respond to medical information, especially if you're talking with a specialist or discussing an ongoing condition or serious illness. You may want to ask a trusted friend or family member to accompany you. Bringing someone to take notes, ask questions or share information that you may not have thought about can help you relax.
Ask for clarification. If you're unclear about what your provider has told you, double-check by repeating what you think you heard. Don't feel embarrassed. Remember you and your health professional are on the same team, and he or she wants you to understand specific medical advice.
Don't drop the ball. Stay in touch with your health care professional. Call to ask questions or update information (some offices have special call-in hours). These interactions may be recorded in your file, to be discussed at your next visit.
Talk to your loved ones about your health and theirs and be a health role model. Don't wait until you're sick or injured to talk to your loved ones about ways to lead a healthier lifestyle. You'll have more success eating right, exercising regularly, not smoking and taking other steps to promote good health if you have a support network to cheer you on.
© 2013. National Women's Health Resource Center, Inc. All rights reserved. All content provided in this guide is for information purposes only. Any information herein relating to specific medical conditions, preventive care and/or healthy lifestyles does not suggest individual diagnosis or treatment and is not a substitute for medical attention.Back to Men's Health Guide Home Page
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