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JODY HOLTON — Should I see a doctor about this? For men, please, yes.

OK, readers, who out there goes for a yearly well check-up?

Jody Holton

Who out there will go if there is a lump, bump or pain that lasts more than a few weeks?

Who out there just tries to tough it out as long as possible ’til it’s an emergency situation?

I completely understand the hesitancy to make a regular doctor visit during the strange times we are living in right now.

But even in “normal” times, did you know that the CDC reports women are 33 percent more likely to visit the doctor than men, and women are 100 percent better at maintaining screening and preventive care? One hundred percent, let that sink in for a moment.

Today’s column has been inspired by the recent loss of two friends that were diagnosed with cancer far too late to treat, and each of them passed within two months of their initial diagnosis.

Both were strong, hard working men, gone far too soon. I am not speculating that it could have been prevented, but certainly screening may have helped in treatment.

What is keeping men from seeking health care? There appears to be a correlation between holding the belief that men should be strong and self-reliant (and slow to show emotion) and resisting routine exams.

Many men also report a fear of diagnosis. Unfortunately, waiting on symptoms to become acutely painful or otherwise unavoidable is not a good health plan.

Men reported being uncomfortable with certain body exams. In particular, rectal exams and other invasive tests are apt to give men pause about seeking preventative care. This issue may be tied into the idea of masculinity as well. After all, some intimate exams make us feel vulnerable.

Men are twice as likely to wait more than two years between doctor visits. In fact, for all the reasons listed above and more, more than 40% of men don’t go to the doctor at all unless they have a serious issue on their hands.

Closing the health care gap between the genders is not an easy task, but here are a few things we can all do to help fix the problem:

Do some research — Investigate data-supported recommendations for how often you should get checked for specific health factors or illnesses. For instance, men over the age of 35 should have their cholesterol checked every five years. Be empowered with knowledge about why routine check-ups are important and can even be lifesaving.

Nag your loved ones — It turns out almost 20 percent of men admit to going to the doctor just so a loved one will stop bothering them about it.

Be honest with your doctor — Unfortunately, men who report traditional views of masculinity are not only less likely to go to the doctor, they are also less likely to be honest about their health history and current symptoms.

Choose a doctor you’re comfortable with and be honest with them about what’s really going on.

Yes, your body has the amazing ability to heal itself much of the time, however, avoiding the doctor won’t make your health issues go away.

Lingering pain, a cough that won’t go away, frequent indigestion, a sore that does not heal, all are health issues that need to be seen to. Frequently, there can be an easy fix, maybe something simple as a lifestyle modification. But don’t hesitate, get it seen, and then you won’t have to dread what it may be.

Going to the doctor is not a sign of weakness, it is the sign of a smart individual that wants their body to function as well as possible for as long as possible.

Get your yearly check up and stay healthy, my friends.

Jody Holton writes about health for Port Arthur Newsmedia. She can be reached at jholton3@gt.rr.com.