It’s Men’s Health Week, so naturally we’re updating you on the most important things you need to know about your health. While you may not care now about your heart health or worry about arthritis, you should. We’ve already shown you that men are not going to the doctor nearly enough. In fact, per a new study, only half of men even remember when their last checkup happened. Convinced you should schedule that appointment? Great. But now, It’s important to come in prepared so you get the most out of your time.
It’s likely that just like you, your doctor is very busy. In order to see every patient scheduled, health care professionals are often forced to squeeze each one into a quick few minutes. And while it might be nice to get it over with quickly, the pressure on doctors to keep the turnover high means that they might not have a chance to tell you everything you want to know. The best way to get the most out of your time together? Knowing what you need to ask. ZocDoc’s Keri Peterson, M.D., an Internal Medicine doctor in New York City, arms you with three questions you can’t forget to ask your doc.
Do I need any vaccines?
“We sometimes think we finished with vaccines as children,” says Dr. Peterson. “But as adults it’s important to stay current with booster vaccines, receive new vaccines like for HPV that have come to market in recent years, and get short-term vaccines.”
There are vaccines to prevent chicken pox, shingles, measles and more. A single shot, called the tdap, can get you protection from whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria. You need to get an update on this every ten years. Plus, you may also want to consider getting a flu shot every year. Yearly shots can help prevent the flu and pneumonia, says Dr. Peterson. It may seem overwhelming, which is why it’s key to chat with your doctor about your options.
If I change one thing about my lifestyle, what should it be?
Your doctor has your records, and will probably ask you some questions about your habits at the beginning of your visit. You know the routine: do you smoke? Drink? Exercise? Chances are, you’re not doing everything perfectly. But it’s also pretty likely that you don’t have the time to do a complete lifestyle overhaul. Enter Question #2: what’s the one thing I should do differently?
Some of the major mistakes men make in their health are not getting enough sleep and not getting enough exercise. As Dr. Peterson told us, you should be aiming to get at least eight hours of sleep. But it’s also crucial to build in exercise, not only for your physical health, but also for you mind: “It allows people to get away from the office for an hour or two, reducing their stress levels,” she says.
There may also be important changes to your eating and drinking habits that you need to address.
This question is about setting priorities for yourself. Armed with the answer, you’ll be ready to make better decisions about how you reward yourself and where you can push yourself harder.
When should I come back to follow up?
If you had any blood samples, urine samples, biopsies or other tests that involve lab work, you may need to come back to the office—or at the very least set a day to call to find out about the results. Even if your doctor gives you the all-clear, ask about the next time you should come in. If your doctor tells you you’re set for a while? Dr. Peterson says that even the healthiest guys should be seeing their primary care doctor at least once a year for a checkup.