Prioritize health

Published May 19, 2019, 12:40 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



“All health and success does me good,”–  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

US philosopher, author, Walden (1854)

Dr. Jose Pujalte Jr.
Dr. Jose Pujalte Jr.

Thoreau went on to say, “However far off and withdrawn it may appear; all disease and failure helps to make me sad and does me evil, however much sympathy it may have with me or I with it.” You can begin eating and living healthy and hope to land on the far right of the bell curve. Or, you can continue your profligate life and die early. Who is to say you can’t be happy either way? Still, we have the moral responsibility not to die so soon that family security is endangered.

A man can take charge of his health by following these 8 steps.

A Health Check List. These must be checked (or requested) by your doctor and dentist. The appropriate health professional to see is in parenthesis.

  • Blood pressure reading (family medicine doctor/cardiologist).
  • Cholesterol level (family medicine doctor/cardiologist).
  • Prostate exam (urologist).
  • Colon and rectal cancer screening (colorectal surgeon).
  • Sexually transmitted disease (STD) screening (infectious disease expert/urologist).
  • Eye exam (ophthalmologist).
  • Fasting blood sugar test (family medicine doctor/endocrinologist).
  • Dental check-up (dentist).
  • Hearing test (ENT specialist).

Why bother? There’s a practical reason to all these. Disease prevention is less costly than treatment or cure. For example, prostate screening begins with a simple DRE  or a digital rectal exam. The doctor will examine the size and consistency of the prostate gland. A blood exam called the PSA (prostate – specific antigen) may also be ordered. High PSA values may indicate prostate cancer.  Colo-rectal cancer screening begins by looking for hidden bleeding in the stool (fecal occult blood). A barium enema for a special colon xray outlines irregularities in the intestinal lining. Any suspicious changes will be further inspected by inserting flexible tubes in the rectum (sigmoidoscopy) or the entire colon (colonoscopy). These two forms of cancer respond well to treatment, particularly if detected early. As for STDs, we have to remember that they allow the HIV or AIDs virus to be contracted much easier.

Checking Ears, Teeth, etc. After the age of 50, hearing must be tested every 3 years. Hearing loss is usually insidious and unrecognized unless secondary to head trauma that involves the inner ear. There is also no inevitability to losing all teeth as one ages. It’s a matter of not only getting regular teeth care but also seeing to it that gums are healthy.

Heart and blood vessels. The circulatory system (the heart pump and its tubes) is initially screened by measuring blood pressure and blood cholesterol. I have written that chronic high blood pressure is a “silent killer” because the patient may not have any symptoms, even as organs are damaged over time. Elevated cholesterol may be an indication that sludge is building up inside vessel walls. Eventually, blood flow to the heart (coronary arteries) or to the brain (carotid arteries) may be compromised to a point that a heart attack or stroke occurs. Fasting blood sugar detects diabetes which in its natural, untreated course also shuts down major organs. More sensitive tests are available but your doctor will decide if you need them.

As a man, you are also a husband, a father, a son, an uncle, or a best buddy. You may not realize how much you are needed and wanted by family and friends until you get sick. Before that happens, take responsibility for your health now. It’s never too late to get a check up.

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