A Woman’s Guide To A Man’s Health

It’s no surprise that, according to the National Institute of Health, married men live longer than men living on their own. That’s because women have perfected the art of gentle persuasion, i.e., nagging. Men may claim to be the masters of their castles, but women are the queens of kvetch. Juan Yordan-Frau, MD, of Family Care Specialists, agrees that a woman’s persistence pays off.

“One of the things I say to my younger patients is, ‘Either you feel like crap, or your wife made you come in.’ Younger men tend to only go to doctors when they don’t feel well,” says Dr. Yordan-Frau, “The majority of men ages 25 to 45, who come seeking preventative care, come in to please their wives.” For women, he says, it’s different, because they have been practicing preventative care since their first pap smear. Men, however, might need some friendly reminders.

“Women are the catalyst needed for men’s preventative care,” Dr. Yordan-Frau continues. “There have been many instances where we catch new onset diabetes or hypertension due to the constant pressuring by a wife to get her husband to regular check-ups.”

Dr. William Trice, an Ocala internist, says that it’s a woman’s power of observation that makes her great at helping her man stay healthy. A woman will walk into her living room and immediately know that someone has rearranged the knick-knacks, while her husband may not notice if she’d painted the walls purple.

“Women notice things that men don’t,” he says. “A man may not realize he hasn’t been himself lately, but his wife will pick up on things, like a change in habit or mood, and ask questions.”

Gwen, 63, agrees, “He used to enjoy getting up early and going for a walk before work but gradually dropped the habit and was tired in the mornings,” she says of her husband Mack. “He didn’t realize that he wasn’t sleeping as well as he used to, and that made him more tired. I made the connection and got him to talk about it with his doctor, who diagnosed Mack with sleep apnea.”

Lynn, 38, may have saved her fiancé’s life by insisting he visit a urologist, even after being told he was too young for a preventative screening.

“We were visiting my father-in-law in the hospital, and I noticed a poster in the hospital advertising free prostate screenings,” Lynn says. “Knowing Tim had a lot of prostate cancer in his family and had not been to the doctor in years, I called the phone number, but they told me Tim, who was in his early 40s at the time, was too young to qualify.”Because Tim was experiencing some symptoms, Lynn persisted and got Tim to visit a doctor. He found out he did, in fact, have prostate cancer.

“I would surprise him by showing up at his appointments and take notes,” Lynn explains. Thanks to Lynn’s persistence, Tim is cancer free, and they are planning their wedding.

Dianne’s husband Bill, 52, insisted for weeks that the raw spot on his forehead was from his golf hat irritating the skin when he sweated.

“I wasn’t buying it,” Dianne says. “I kept fussing at him to have it looked at.” When Bill finally relented and saw his dermatologist, he found he had a large squamous-cell carcinoma. “The doctor had to use 80 stitches to close the wound, which went from one side of his forehead to the other,” says Dianne. “Thank goodness they got it all.”

Rebecca, a 40-year-old mother of four, resorted to heavy ammunition in her battle to get her husband to visit a dentist.

“He hated going to the dentist and hadn’t been in a few years,” she explains, “So one night I pureed his dinner and served it to him in a glass. I told him he would have to get used to drinking his meals when all his teeth fall out.” Her tactic drove the point home, and he made the appointment.

Many people forget that regular dental care can go a long way toward protecting other areas of your health. Lawrence Sutton, DDS, MAGD, recently advised a patient about her husband’s heart disease.

“Just the other day, I had a long conversation with a patient about her husband, who has advanced periodontal disease in addition to severe heart disease for a relatively young man in his 50s. Periodontal disease is a risk factor for heart disease, just like smoking and being overweight.” Dr. Sutton was able to help his patient convince her husband to get the inflammation in his mouth under control, thereby reducing the risk factors for his heart.

It’s often hard for women to keep on top of their husband’s health care, in addition to their children’s and their own care, but the payoff is worth the effort. Anne, 73, says her husband Michael doesn’t need her help in attending to his own appointments.

“It’s nice knowing he cares about his health and works hard to maintain it,” Anne says. “It’s the best anniversary gift he could give me each year.”

Women Take Notice!

Signs & Symptoms He May Ignore

Don’t let your man ignore important changes in his health. Here are some potential warning signs you may notice long before he does.

Bad Breath: Severe bad breath can be a sign of many things, including tooth decay, gum disease, poor denture care, respiratory tract or sinus infections, acid reflux, liver or kidney problems, and gastrointestinal blockages.

Shortness of Breath: Shortness of breath can be a warning sign of impending cardiac arrest. Shortness of breath can also be indicative of asthma, anemia, bronchial infection, pneumonia, pulmonary disease or heart problems.

Changes in Sleeping Habits: Any changes in sleeping habits, whether your spouse has difficulty sleeping or wants to sleep all the time, should be investigated. Depression, stress, gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD), enlarged prostate, sleep apnea, muscle or joint pain, heart or lung disease, medications or alcoholism and drug abuse can all affect sleep habits.

Lack of Appetite: Certain medications can cause a lack of appetite, as can dental problems, depression, stress, stomach or colon cancer, hypothyroidism, chemotherapy, COPD, liver and kidney disease, and drug abuse.

Sexual Performance Problems: Although every man experiences an inability to perform sexually at some point in life, if it becomes frequent, it could be a side effect of medication or be related to prostate disease, anxiety or depression, heart or vascular disease, alcoholism or drug abuse, diabetes, hormone changes or neurological problems.

Frequent Urination: Commonly associated with an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer, an increased need to use the restroom or pain during urination can also be a symptom of urinary tract or bladder infection, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

Vision & Hearing Changes: Although more than two-thirds of older adults experience impaired vision and one-third report hearing problems, many men are slow to acknowledge the problem. Cloudy vision, loss of peripheral vision or ringing in the ears might be symptoms of more serious problems, such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetes or neurological disorders.

Difficulty Swallowing: Persistent difficulty swallowing, gagging or the sensation of having food stuck in the throat or behind the breastbone might be related to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), esophageal tumors, narrowing of the esophagus, scarring from radiation treatments or neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s.

Changes in Moles or Skin: Men aren’t usually as attentive to the condition of their skin as women are, so watch for changes in moles and sores that don’t heal to catch skin cancer early. Additionally, skin changes can be caused by conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, dermatitis, shingles, jock itch, STDs, jaundice, lupus and other autoimmune diseases or an allergic reaction to medication or other substance.

Social Habits & Mood: If your social butterfly has taken to his cocoon, he might be feeling depressed or anxious. When it’s a symptom of a serious mental health issue, you might need to insist he see a professional.

Headaches: Many things can cause headaches, from medications, stress and allergies to vision problems, viral infections and tumors. Occasional headaches are common, but if he is suddenly having more frequent or strong headaches that don’t respond to over-the-counter medications, seek treatment.

Check, Please

Keep your guy in check with these regular preventative screenings.

30 Something

This is the decade when men trade in skis, surfboards and bikes for strollers, swings and bassinets. As he spends less time on himself and more on his family, start him off on the right track with these annual screenings.

Dental check up, semi-annually

Flu shot

Tetanus booster, every 10 years

Blood pressure


Blood sugar, if overweight

Weight and body mass index (BMI)

Sexually transmitted diseases

40 & Fabulous

If your guy is active and eats healthfully, he can breeze through his 40s, but if there’s cancer or heart disease in his family history, he might need to add a few tests to his annual physical.

Dental check up, semi-annually

Flu shot

Tetanus booster, every 10 years

Blood pressure


Blood sugar, if overweight

Weight and body mass index (BMI)

Prostate screening, if family history of cancer

Colonoscopy, if there is colon cancer in his family

Nifty 50s

Now we’re getting serious; it’s time to add the dreaded, but necessary, tests. Remind him it’s not all bad—he can take advantage of senior discounts!

Dental check up, semi-annually

Flu shot

Tetanus booster, every 10 years

Blood pressure


Blood sugar, if overweight or has high blood pressure

Weight and body mass index (BMI)

Prostate exam

Colonoscopy, every five years

Skin cancer check

60s Are Sexy

You might find your nagging isn’t needed, as men often become more self-motivated about their health care now that physical signs of aging are becoming more pronounced.

Dental check up, semi-annually

Flu shot

Tetanus booster, every 10 years

Blood pressure


Blood sugar

Weight and body mass index (BMI)

Prostate exam

Colonoscopy, every five years

Hearing screening

Pneumococcal pneumonia shot

Abdominal aortic aneurysm test, if he was ever a smoker


The Punch List: 10 to-do’s to keep him healthier

Sources: US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Mayo Clinic, mayoclinic.org, webmd.com, Parkinson’s Disease Foundation

1 Monitor intake of painkillers and other prescription drugs.Keep a list of medications he takes regularly in case of an emergency.

2 Use safety precautions.As he ages, your spouse might forget he’s not as nimble as he used to be. Make sure he has adequate help hanging Christmas lights or trimming hedges.

3 Push those veggies.Getting enough fruit and vegetables in his diet can go a long way toward maintaining good health. Help him keep a diet diary if his weight or cholesterol is a problem.

4 Keep the potatoes off the couch. Regular activity is vital to a long, fulfilling life, and it’s something you can do together.

5 Exercise the brain, too.Encourage him to learn new things. Take up a hobby, play cards or do puzzles with your partner for a little mental stimulation.

6 Retake driver’s education. Does your honey always buckle up? Stay off his phone while driving? Never drive after drinking? Preventing accidents starts at home.

7 A teaspoon a day. Fish oil, Co-Q 10, vitamin D and a daily baby aspirin are examples of supplements that might be recommended by his physician.

8 Sleep like a baby. Create a serene atmosphere in the bedroom for optimal sleeping conditions.

9 Create opportunities for fun! Besides helping him to reduce stress, you’ll make great family memories.

10 Floss daily. And brush, and rinse! Encourage good dental habits for sweeter kissing and healthy gums.

Posted in Ocala Style Features

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