Guys, Get Your Motors Running and Find a Primary Care Physician
For years, even before COVID, a remarkably low number of younger men have put their health at risk by ignoring the need for regular doctor visits…until they finally listen to their wives, or something bad happens.
To put it in language men ages 26-40 can relate to, “You don’t wait until your engine is smoking to get an oil change,” said Dr. Joseph Lach, a Family Medicine & Urgent Care Provider at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox.
During Primary Care Week, October 4-8, Dr. Lach urges everyone to make an appointment with a primary care physician, especially if it’s been a while.
“If we can see you early enough, we may be able to pick up on hereditary issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems before they can advance. Then, it may be just a matter of adjusting diet and exercise instead of needing medication or a procedure.”
Lifestyle and Family History, Equally Important
Dr. Lach speaks from experience. Although he knew high blood pressure runs in his family, for years, he was overweight. Now, even after making lifestyle changes and losing weight, he still must take high blood pressure medication for the rest of his life.
Unless they’re an athlete in high school or college, males generally are done with routine doctor visits around age 16, Dr. Lach said, when they’re done with school-required vaccinations.
“Women do tend to be much more in tune with their health from an early age,” he said. “After vaccinations, then there are the recommended women’s health evaluations.
“Young men will typically only go to an urgent care if they have a sprain or maybe if they have the flu or something else requiring treatment. After a certain age, I will see a lot of men coming in, sometimes grudgingly, just to appease their wives.”
That will give Dr. Lach a chance to do a medical history, sometimes requiring him to do some detective work.
“They’ll say, ‘My grandparents died before I was born. And my Dad died of a heart attack.’ Chances are, there could be some cholesterol or heart issues in the family we need to keep an eye on.
“Families keep these secrets. So and so died of cancer. Well, what type of cancer? At what age?
“Part of the reluctance of having a primary care physician is that we are accustomed to the luxury of good health, and having someone take care of us when we need it. But study after study show preventive care can help us much more.
“Yet, some of the men who come in for the first time tell me they’ve had health insurance for 10 years and never used it. It’s crazy,” said Dr. Lach.
To give employees, especially men, a push in the right direction, employers have begun rewarding their clients/employees for having primary care physicians and monitoring their cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar, at least annually.
“Employers realize they lose a lot of money when their employees are ill or need chronic care,” Dr. Lach said. “Sometimes we can prevent disease before it becomes a problem.”
How do you find the right primary care physician for you? Dr. Lach said he gets a lot of referrals from family and friends of current patients. Sometimes, even then, it may not work out.
“Sometimes I will tell patients, ‘You don’t have to like me, but you do have to pay attention to your health.’ If after several months, there are no improvements to health, I will even offer to find another physician who may be more compatible,” he stated.
Never a Bad Time To Start Seeing a Primary Care Physician
Dr. Lach’s recommendation is, “Ask around. You can look online, but those ratings can be deceiving. Either way, make an appointment, even just to meet the doctor, not for full testing or even a specific exam. Make sure it’s someone who tells you the truth, even if it’s something you may not want to hear.
“Give them a test drive. There is never a bad time to start seeing a primary care physician.”
About Dr. Lach
Joseph Lach, D.O. is board certified in Family Medicine and Manipulation Treatment. In addition to treating patients in his family medicine practice, he is also an Urgent Care physician. Dr. Lach earned his medical degree from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his family medicine residency at St. James Hospital.
With a strong background in ambulatory and hospital-based education and clinical medicine, he is also dedicated to advancing the scope of preventive care within the practice of primary care.
Dr. Lach is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, Illinois Academy of Family Physicians and American Osteopathic Association.