Top 5 Questions Men Should Ask Their Doctor About Their Health

There are many reasons why some people avoid seeing their doctor, but men are particularly hesitant. In fact, over 40% of men only go to the doctor when they think they have a serious medical condition, according to The Cleveland Clinic.

Even if you’re young and healthy, men of all ages can benefit from routine office visits. These annual appointments often uncover anything that’s bothering you from your mental health and sleeping habits to signs of any medical conditions.

To make the most of your time, I’d like to share the top 5 questions I recommend you ask your doctor about your health.

  1. What screenings and/or tests do I need? A critical factor in helping men stay healthy is making sure you get the necessary screenings and/or test you need in a timely fashion. These screenings detect symptoms of certain health conditions early when they are more easily treatable. Based on your age, and of course other factors, your doctor will recommend which screenings and/or test you need done on a regular basis.
  2. Am I at risk for heart disease? As the leading cause of death worldwide, you could be more at risk for developing heart disease if you have a family history of heart disease, you smoke or are obese. Knowing your blood pressure and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise are key to preventing heart disease.
  3. Do I need to lose weight? While weight gain is common in men, you should take notice of your weight and inform your doctor of any sudden fluctuations as your weight could be affecting your health. Whether you want to get fit or manage a chronic disease, your doctor can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle by providing a personalized weight management plan.
  4. Am I exercising enough? Having a proper diet is only one piece of the puzzle to improving your quality of life. Regular exercise can have immediate as well as long-term health benefits. However, before you begin exercising, discuss with your doctor how much physical activity is right for you to make sure you’re doing enough to maintain a healthy weight.
  5. What do I need to do between now and my next visit? Preparing for your next visit by setting goals that you and your doctor tailored just for you not only helps you stay healthy but keeps you accountable.

When it comes to your health, don’t wait to see your doctor. Even if nothing is wrong now, prevention can help reverse any medical issues before they become more serious problems later. So, guys, make your health a priority and schedule an appointment.

3 Benefits of Being a Bilingual Physician

As a physician, being able to communicate well with my patients and their family members is essential. During a visit, patients communicate how they are feeling, what symptoms they may have and how you can potentially help. However, it’s not uncommon to encounter patients whose native language isn’t English. That’s why in today’s multicultural world, being a bilingual physician helps me connect more directly.

There are so many benefits to being bilingual but here are my top 3:

  1. I am able to form deeper personal connections. One of the advantages of having a primary care doctor that can communicate in your native language is the opportunity to better connect with your doctor in a more meaningful way; therefore, helping to provide a more comfortable experience.
  2. I can have a better understanding of the patient’s needs. Having a primary care doctor who is fluent in your native language can also help to provide culturally specific care by being sensitive and responsive to your cultural beliefs and traditions.
  3. We can form a stronger doctor-patient relationship. Being able to communicate with your doctor in a private and personal setting without the use of a third-party translator enhances the relationship by removing barriers to care.

Tips to Alleviate Migraines

Migraines aren’t typical headaches or even a severe one. It’s a serious neurological condition that can trigger symptoms like vomiting, nausea, dizziness, numbness, and sensitivity to light and sound. When a migraine strikes, you’ll do almost anything to make it go away.

Based upon your severity, there are different approaches I recommend you use to help alleviate, treat and prevent migraines.

Some non-medication approaches include:

  • Following a healthy lifestyle, staying well hydrated, getting regular exercise, and getting adequate sleep.
  • Avoiding certain foods that can be migraine triggers. Common triggers can be alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, canned foods, cured or processed meats, aged cheeses, cultured dairy, MSG and aspartame.
  • Acupuncture, biofeedback, massage, spinal manipulation, relaxation techniques and reducing your stress.

Even if you avoid your triggers and practice healthy habits, you may still experience migraines. Some patients who suffer with frequent migraines—greater than 14 headache days a month—can find relief from preventative medications that are taken daily.

Abortive medications, ones that are taken at the first sign of the migraine, include anti-inflammatory medications, triptans and a newer class of medications called CGRP antagonists.

    • Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen along with other over the counter medications like Excedrin and acetaminophen need to be used cautiously as taking these medications too often for headaches can result in rebound headaches.
    • Triptans are a class of medications that are available in multiple preparations and can be given by mouth, nasal spray or subcutaneous injection.  These should be used with caution in anyone with cardiovascular disease.
    • Calcitonin-gene related peptide (CGRP) antagonists have shown benefit for individuals who get insufficient response to other abortive medications or have contraindications to them.

It is important to remember that migraines affect and present in different ways for each individual and not all treatments are suitable for everyone. Please make sure to talk to your doctor to come up with the best treatment approach for you.

The Benefits of Advanced Primary Care for Employers

In a recent article for Benefits Pro, Dr. Scott Conrad hits the nail on the head – our existing primary care system is broken and it is costing employers money. As he notes he’s experienced first-hand, the current fee for service primary care system is one that is overloaded with too many patients, supported by perverse financial incentives, and delivering care that is episodic and reactive, leaving ticking time bombs within a covered population.

As you approach your renewals and think about ways to boost the overall success of your group health plans, consider for a moment that an innovation exists that genuinely changes how care is delivered, yielding better health and lower costs for your clients. Advanced Primary Care is the key to unlocking outcomes that matter.

R-Health finds itself aligned with the key attributes of the Advanced Primary Care model as highlighted by Dr. Conrad and suggested by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions. Our Advanced Primary Care innovation dares to challenge the status quo and as a solution, we work to make major changes to the primary care delivery system itself.

  • R-Health caps each of our physician’s patient panels at one third of that of a typical family doctor. This gives the patient back precious time in their day when they’re not waiting for an hour for a 15-minute visit to discuss a complex health issue. R-Health’s wait times are typically less than 10 minutes, and our physicians know their patients by name, spending upwards of 30 minutes to an hour with patients. Further, the smaller patient panel allows for a personal R-Health doctor to be available outside of normal business hours for virtual care.
  • R-Health doesn’t get paid on a fee for service basis. Instead, partnering with R-Health typically yields a fixed per member per month fee. This allows our physicians to focus on the quality of care being delivered, never the quantity of patients being seen in a day.
  • R-Health delivers care that fosters authentic, long lasting relationships with patients and takes proactive steps to engage people in their healthcare. Our physicians have the time to focus on a patient’s lifestyle and provide disease-based coaching, working to encourage behavior modification.

R-Health has the infrastructure to leverage robust data with state-of-the-art technology to effectively manage your population over time.

This technology takes quite a few forms here at R-Health, but brokers might best appreciate our proprietary clinical intelligence platform, HealthyData™, which takes data sets including clinical, claims, and patient level info and aggregates it into one source of actionable information. From a population health management perspective, this is a critical component, allowing us to risk stratify the population and provide proactive outreach and care to those deemed to be within High Risk and Rising Risk categories.

As the article asserts, it is true that “with improved primary care, other stakeholders in the system lose when less money is spent on things like imaging, specialist care, inpatient care and prescription drugs.” So when you are called on and charged with the seemingly insurmountable task of controlling costs and reducing spend, consider implementing R-Health’s Advanced Primary Care solution. You’ll find the better health outcomes, lower claims spend, and primary care revitalization you’ve been seeking.

Ticks & Lyme Disease

With the warm summer weather, comes tick season and the chances of getting Lyme disease. Lyme disease is an illness caused by a bacteria that is carried by the blacklegged tick, most commonly know as a deer tick. When an infected tick bites you, it can transfer the bacteria under the skin, leading to an infection. If not diagnosed and treated early, Lyme disease can develop into a chronic illness, causing long-term health problems. However, if caught and treated early, most people can recover without any problems. Luckily, there are many ways to prevent Lyme disease and monitor ticks while being able to enjoy the outdoors.

  • If you are hiking or camping in the woods, wear clothing that will cover your arms and legs, and tuck your pants into socks to limit tick access.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to easily identify ticks.
  • As soon as you are home or indoors, check yourself or have someone help look for ticks. Use a fine-tooth comb to check your hair and check your entire body.
  • Shower and wash any clothes at a high heat to kill any ticks.

To remove ticks:

  • Use sterilized forceps such as tweezers to grab and pull the entire tick out. Avoid twisting or squeezing the tick and be careful not to leave any remains in the skin.
  • Wash your hands and the tweezers after removal.

If you missed a tick on yourself or family member, here are some signs of an infection:

  • Fever/chills
  • Aches and pains. Tickborne diseases may cause headaches, fatigue, and muscle aches. With Lyme disease, you may also experience joint pain.
  • In Lyme disease, a rash may appear within 3-30 days of infection and typically before a fever. The rash will appear circular, also appearing as a ‘bullseye’ rash. It may be warm to the touch but not painful.

Reduce tick populations in your own habitat:

  • Ticks like tall grasses and brush. Try removing these form areas near your house or the edges of your lawn.
  • Keep the lawn mowed and raked free of grasses and leaves.
  • If your lawn or play area backs up to the woods, consider creating a 3-foot wide buffer using wood chips or gravel to reduce migration of ticks.
  • High fencing can discourage tick-carrying deer from entering your yard.
  • Help reduce the rodent population that ticks often feed on (chipmunks, mice, etc.) by neatly stacking wood piles in a dry area and keeping your yard free of debris.
  • Place tick tubes around your yard. Damminix and Thermacell are two commercially available tick tubes, or you can also make your own. Here is a video explaining how to make your own tick tubes.

Contact your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and develop any of these symptoms.

Allergies or Something Else?

April showers don’t just bring spring showers but also spring allergies. Allergies are caused by our immune system overreacting to an increased output of pollen from trees, grass, and weeds being released into the air. When people inhale this pollen, it can trigger allergies. While allergies are very common, severe allergies can make it hard to determine whether it is seasonal allergies or something more serious. 

Typically, a key indicator that it is seasonal allergies is that your symptoms tend to be more long-lasting than those that are viral. Plus, most people with allergies have a history of seasonal allergies that occur around the same time every year.  

The most common and bothersome allergy symptoms are:  

  • Nasal congestion 
  • Sneezing 
  • Itchy eyes, nose, ears, and mouth 
  • Watery eyes 
  • Runny nose 

Some less common allergy symptoms include: 

  • Headache 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Wheezing 
  • Coughing 

For most people, avoiding allergens and taking over-the-counter medications is enough to ease symptoms. But if your symptoms are not improving and appear to be getting worsereach out to your personal R-Health doctor. Your doctor will be able to determine if you have allergies and may provide you with strategies to help keep them under control.