As a wife and mom, it seems like it’s our responsibility to make sure our family is happy and healthy. I typically schedule all of the family appointments and make sure the kids are up to date on annual checkups and flu shots. However, when it comes to my husband’s health, even if he has a cold or isn’t feeling well, he absolutely refuses to schedule an appointment to see a physician. Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Hiroki Noda, a family physician at Kaiser Permanente, to get a little inside information on men’s health and why they avoid the doctor’s office.
My husband is quite stubborn. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter was home sick. I wanted to take her to see her pediatrician, because I thought she had the flu. Dad, on the other hand, thought she had a cold, and in his opinion, the best course of action was let her body fight off the bacteria on her own. His argument was that we shouldn’t expose her to more germs while her body was already fighting. Additionally, he felt that if we continued to rely on medication for every sickness, when she truly needs it, she’ll be immune. I was in agreement with his point of view, however I was concerned she was at a state where she needed an antibiotic to combat whatever “bug” she was fighting. With the current flu epidemic, waiting too long could be fatal. After about a week, I ended up taking her in to discover she, in fact, had a sinus infection and conjunctivitis. Medication was necessary to fight off the infections. While I ended up being right, he continues to stand by his opinion. When it comes to his own medical issues, unless he can’t walk, or has a high level of persistent pain, he will refuse to consult a physician.
Upon meeting Dr. Noda, I asked him if he knew why men wait so long to be seen by a doctor when they know something isn’t quite right. In his opinion, he felt that men have the perception that if the symptoms aren’t that bad, they’ll be fine and do not need to waste time seeing a doctor. If they have a cold, infection, flu, discomfort or pain they can tough it out and can get through the day. The reasons they avoid visiting the doctor could be based on the culture and/or gender, either way, they just don’t want to take the time away from work to visit a physician or appear weak.
Men are obviously just as important as women when it comes to supporting the family. Prevention and detection are so important when it comes to many of the infections and diseases that plague the human body. Dr. Noda suggests that men should have check-ups every two years. Just like a car needs an oil change every few months, tires rotated and battery checked; men need to be checked for many reasons, some of which he mentioned include:
- High Blood Pressure – Considered the “silent killer”, high blood pressure does not present any symptoms.
- Prostate Cancer – When men reach their 50’s, they should have a rectal exam, which checks for prostate cancer. Not as common as breast cancer, but prostate cancer is quite common in men, many of which choose to live with it because they don’t want the risk of impotence.
Dr. Noda said by speaking with his patients and uncovering their family history, he determines how often they should return for check-ups, and their potential risk of having the same issue.
I also asked Dr. Noda about a vasectomy, and possible risks. He shared that a vasectomy for a male, historically results in less complications than a tubal ligation for a female. Potential issues could include excessive bleeding, sperm granuloma, or an infection; all of which, are highly unlikely. When asked about a patient who may want the procedure reversed, he stated that a reversal is not 100%, therefore only go through with the procedure if you know for a fact you no longer want to have children.
One final message Dr. Noda shared was that men (and women) need to pay attention to their weight. Obesity can cause a number of complications like heart disease, stroke, or can increase the risk for cancer. Men and women view weight loss differently. While women focus on diet, men focus on exercise. Dr. Noda stated that in order to successfully achieve a healthy weight, an individual must focus on a balance of diet and exercise.
At the conclusion of our meeting, Dr. Noda and I agreed upon the fact that getting men to visit their general practitioner starts with us, the ladies. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to schedule the appointments for our men, until they realize it is just as important to get regular check ups when they’re healthy because it benefits the family as a whole.
Kaiser Permanente continues to evolve with suggestions from members and staff. When I met with Dr. Noda, I was invited to a brand-new facility in La Habra. The new medical office buildings will have a different feel than traditional medical facilities. Open floor plans, staff that will come to you, comfortable lobbies with work stations and mobile device charging stations, will be the norm. Your experience is their priority and numerous locations throughout Orange County makes it convenient for members to visit their physicians.
One of my favorite features of being a member of Kaiser Permanente is ability to select from many services such as: primary and urgent care, emergency facilities, labor and delivery, pharmacy, and lab all housed under one roof. While members move from physician to physician, one thing remains constant – your file with detailed notes. Doctors at Kaiser have the ability to see every detail of every visit as well as all medications prescribed. One tip Dr. Noda shared with me was that in the past, he has been able to look back on a patient’s history to discover they hadn’t had a prescription refilled in several months, proving the patient had not been taking medications they needed for their diagnosis. Their visit that day could have been prevented if the patient had continued to take their medications.
If you’re not a member already, find out more today at: kp.org/orangecounty.