Primary care during Men’s Health Month
June is Men’s Health Month, a time dedicated to addressing health issues men face, promoting healthy living and encouraging routine doctor visits. Men are often notorious for avoiding the doctor until the absolute last minute or until something goes wrong. However, this approach to health care can cause more of a challenge when it is time to get medical treatment. The goal of having a primary care doctor is to have an existing and ongoing relationship so that you can stay healthy. By living a healthy lifestyle, getting regular exams and addressing any issues that arise with your primary care team, you and your doctor can monitor your health over time and be more aware of when small changes may be signs of larger problems.
Ideally, you should visit your primary care doctor once a year for annual wellness exams. As you get older, certain health risks may increase, so your physician may recommend appointments more frequently and suggest certain screenings. The more you keep with regular exams, the better chance you’ll have at prevention. Having a doctor who knows your medical and family history can make it feel easier to talk about any symptoms or concerns you might have regarding your health.
Having a primary care doctor and maintaining regular visits can also help save you money in the short and long term. Generally, a visit to your primary care physician is of lower cost than a spontaneous visit for urgent or emergent care. If you were to think about your health in terms of cars or mechanics, seeing your doctor for annual wellness visits pays off over time because you aren’t breaking the bank with a total engine replacement. You’re preventing a complete breakdown through routine engine checkups. That’s why it’s important to maintain your vehicle, or your health, to the best of your ability.
However, immediate care isn’t always preventative, so if you do need medical care quickly, your provider can coordinate with those areas about your health, improving the overall quality of your care. A primary care doctor should be able to assess your situation as a whole and refer you to someone else, like a specialist or therapist, when needed. In these cases, your provider is also able to continue to actively monitor your updated medical history and health status and follow up with test results to provide the best next course of action for your health care.
If you don’t have a primary care doctor, it’s important to find one that you feel comfortable talking openly with. The relationship you develop with your provider will only help you over time. And for those who might be a little weary of office visits, find a provider that offers virtual visits. Routine visits can be experienced from the convenience and comfort of your own home and make it easier for you to get the care you need when you need it. Take care of yourself and schedule those wellness visits with your primary care doctor so that you can make sure your health is in tip-top shape.
Dr. John Harris is a primary care provider at Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport – Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, 1023 Provenance Place Blvd., South Shreveport. For appointments, call 318-626- 0100 or visit ochsnerlsuhs.org to learn more.