By Nancy Gay
Your relationship with your doctor is a key factor in your overall health. Open communication with your physician builds trust, but for many men, it’s hard enough to get to the doctor, let alone know what questions to ask.
1. How does my lifestyle and family history affect my health risk?
According to the World Health Organization, 60% of issues related to someone’s health and quality of life are linked to lifestyle. Poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, poor sleep, sexual behavior, substance abuse, medication abuse and stress contribute to your overall health. The good news is that you can control those lifestyle choices, so it’s important to ask your doctor if your lifestyle puts your health at risk.
While there are lifestyle factors you can control, you can’t choose your genetic makeup. That’s why knowing your family history can help you reduce your risk of developing health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
2. What screening tests should I be most concerned about getting?
Doctors use screenings, or medical tests, to check for diseases or health conditions before there are any signs or symptoms. They help find problems early on when they may be easier to treat. Talking with your doctor can help you understand which screenings you need. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, getting a screening test is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Depending on your age and medical history, your doctor may recommend screening for:
- Certain types of cancer
- High blood pressure or cholesterol
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Hearing or vision loss
- Mental health conditions, like depression
Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a well-balanced diet are crucial for good health. An unhealthy diet contributes to more than 650,000 deaths a year, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Over the past three decades, obesity rates have doubled in adults, tripled in children and quadrupled in teenagers. Obesity can lead to heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. It’s important to ask your doctor about your weight and learn a healthy way to shed pounds by eating a balanced diet if necessary.
4. Should I be worried about cardiovascular disease, including stroke?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death of men and women in America. High blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease, and about half of Americans have at least one of the three. It’s important to talk with your doctor about your risk factors and how to maintain a heart-healthy lifestyle.
5. What vaccines do I need?
Getting vaccinated is one of the safest ways to protect your health. Children aren’t the only ones who need vaccines. Certain vaccinations are recommended throughout adulthood. Keep in mind some vaccines wear off over time and new vaccines are now available. Things such as age, lifestyle, health condition and previous vaccinations determine which vaccines are recommended later in life. You may want to ask about the flu, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (TDAP), shingles and pneumococcal vaccines. Speak with your doctor about the right vaccines for you.