We focus on the health of our patients and community members every day, but there is one month out of the year when we take some extra time to focus on men's health. June is recognized as National Men's Health Month and there are more reasons than one to celebrate this month.
Dr. Walter Ingram, an internal medicine physician with Reed Internal Medicine, said this month is important not only to stress the importance of men's health but to break down any societal stigmas that exist.
"Men are often conditioned from a young age to ignore some level of pain or discomfort," Dr. Ingram said. "There is the saying ‘no pain, no gain’ and men may not complain often because to them it is a sign of weakness. National Men's Health Month is important so we can recognize and overcome the societal barriers that exist so that men are comfortable having their medical concerns addressed.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there is a silent health crisis happening in the United States. A 2014 study showed that men, on average, die five years sooner than women. National Men's Health Month gives the community and physicians the opportunity to address these statistics and concerns about men's health.
"Men must get over any societal fears because pain and discomfort are signals from your brain to your body that something isn't working right," Dr. Ingram said. "When a vehicle has a light on or a squeaky sound is heard, people take their cars into the shop. Often, people treat their cars better than they treat their bodies."
Dr. Ingram said when we hear funny sounds come from our cars, something is often wrong. The same is true when we experience frequent pain and discomfort with our bodies.
"Sometimes we take our car into the shop just to make sure it's running well," he said. "We want to have a professional check it out, change the oil, and make sure it is good to run for many years to come. The same should happen with our bodies. Even though nothing may be wrong right now, we want to have frequent checks to make sure that our health stays on track. The routine maintenance check for your body is a routine wellness check."
There is no denying the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a time like no other. People are hesitant now more than ever to see medical professionals because of the fear of contracting the virus. However, we want to assure you that we have taken steps to ensure your safety when you are coming to the hospital and clinics.
"We continue to put our patients first," Dr. Ingram said. "And for the time being, we are able to heavily rely on telemedicine to keep you as safe as possible. On the other hand, if you are having a medical emergency, it’s vital to seek immediate medical care. We are still here for you."
Dr. Ingram said telemedicine visits have been extremely important during the COVID crisis. You are able to quickly seek medical attention from the comfort of your own home, on your lunch break and wherever is convenient for you. There is no driving time or in-person contact.
"For many visits, a telemedicine appointment is all that is needed," Dr. Ingram said. "However, telemedicine cannot be used for all aspects of care. It is still important for face-to-face appointments for services and other check-ups that cannot be performed over the phone. Telemedicine may be a good way to get your foot in the door at a doctor's office, but it is not a replacement for face-to-face encounters.”
Though there is a clear role for medical professionals to help male patients, Dr. Ingram said there are also things men must do to keep themselves healthy.
“To protect your health immediately, you can keep yourself safe by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and other safety measures with the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “You can also practice eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and maintain a BMI of less than 30. Monitor your health conditions and reach out to your provider if you have concerns.”