Ryan Miller, MD is a UC Health primary care physician in Mason, Ohio, and an assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. In honor of National Men’s Health Month (June), Dr. Miller is helping to raise awareness in the region about preventable health problems, and ways to encourage early detection and treatment of disease among males.
What should men know about important health screenings?
It’s important to stay up-to-date on your routine screening tests, even during COVID-19. Colon and prostate cancer screenings are incredibly important because they help with early detection for two of the most common cancers that affect men. Primary care physicians can help patients with these preventative screenings.
Colon cancer screenings should start at the age of 50 (or potentially sooner if you have a family history of cancer) with colonoscopies performed every 10 years. At UC Health, patients can have an in-person visit for a colonoscopy. We have taken every precaution to ensure our patients and visitors are safe in all of our facilities. For those who may be worried about coming into the hospital for a procedure, you can also talk to your doctor about stool DNA testing or fecal occult blood testing as potential alternatives to a colonoscopy.
For prostate cancer screenings, men should talk to their doctor about testing starting at age 55. If you are a current or former smoker, you should also talk to your doctor about screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms (once between ages 65 and 75), as well as lung cancer screenings with yearly CT scans starting at age 55.
It’s important to continue to visit your primary care physician for things like routine check-ups to discuss important screenings and vaccinations that can help prevent diseases such as cancer, high cholesterol and diabetes. However, if you are concerned about coming into an office, you can always reach out to your physician and connect through methods such as a phone visit, video visit or messages through My UC Health (MyChart).
What are ways men can improve or maintain a healthy lifestyle even while COVID-19 is still in our community?
Focusing on a healthy lifestyle should always consist of maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise and being mindful of your mental health and stress.
With many people transitioning from working in the office to working from home, I’ve had many patients raise concerns about difficulties maintaining a healthy diet. People are struggling with frequent snacking throughout the day since the pantry is “right there.” In these instances, it can be helpful to add more routine to your workday by setting aside specific times for lunch and snack breaks. When it comes time to choose a snack, stick with healthier alternatives such as an apple, banana, yogurt, etc. These can help keep you sustained for longer and help you avoid snacking on unhealthy items, such as potato chips, while working on the computer. For all meals and snacks, the key to healthy eating is sticking to nutritious whole foods and regularly cooking meals at home.
Exercise is also a very important aspect of overall health, providing benefits to the heart, lungs and the mind. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150-300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise to help with a healthy lifestyle. These activities can include something as simple as a brisk walk or bicycle ride. Any amount of activity is beneficial, so even if you only have time for a quick walk around the neighborhood between meetings, that can still make a big difference in your health.
Mental wellness is also an important part of overall health. It is easy to get caught up in all the stressful news related to current events, but it’s important to remember to disconnect from the news sometimes, and not let it overwhelm you. Getting out and exercising can help stave off some feelings of anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed. Many of my patients also have success in managing their stress by using mindfulness techniques like meditation and yoga. If a yoga class is not ideal, there are multiple phone apps and videos out there that can help to teach meditation and mindfulness.
Is it safe to visit a doctors’ office, hospital or Emergency Department right now?
Yes. Following the guidance of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the CDC, UC Health has many safety protocols in place so that you never need to delay your healthcare needs. Doctors' offices, Emergency Departments and hospitals are all open, safe and prepared. We have taken every precaution to ensure our patients and visitors are safe in all of our facilities.
Many patients are very comfortable seeing their physicians for in-person visits, and we have gone the extra mile to make sure our patients and visitors are safer than ever. Here are some safety precautions you’ll see at our locations.
- We have always gone above and beyond to properly clean and sanitize spaces and equipment. This includes wiping down all surfaces in each exam room between patients, sanitizing door handles, chairs, lobby areas, etc.
- In addition, we are screening all of our patients, visitors and employees at all of our facilities every single day.
- We have been adjusting patient visits in order to keep our lobby areas as empty as possible. We also have social distancing signage on floors and chairs to prevent people from sitting too close to each other.
- All patients, visitors and employees are required to wear a mask while in a UC Health facility. If a visitor does not have a mask, they will be given one during the screening process.
We have many virtual visit options available for those who may be concerned about coming in for a visit. Please reach out to your physician for things like phone visits, video visits and messages through My UC Health (MyChart). For example, during a video visit, you can see and talk to your doctor from your smartphone or tablet in the comfort and safety of your own home using the MyChart app.