Friday, June 25, 2021
June is Men’s Health Month, which gives an opportunity to discuss many of the most common health issues that affect men. Sumit Som, MD, a family medicine and preventive medicine provider with Norman Regional’s Primary Care South OKC clinic, gives us his expert perspective on the issues he sees most often with his male patients and what men can be doing to proactively address their health.
To start off, could you tell us about your background?
I am originally from Enid, OK and I went to med school at OU, then did my residency at Texas A&M. My field is preventive medicine, so I help people stay on top of preventive issues like heart disease, cholesterol or diabetes. For Norman Regional I am a primary care physician and I help patients manage chronic conditions and take care of them here or use the help of specialists when necessary.
What would you say is important about bringing awareness to Men’s Health Month?
I am a guy so I can say this, but men just tend to not go to the doctor for a lot of different things. It seems to be that men go to the doctor when there’s something obvious that they can’t fix on their own like a wound or something, but it’s equally important to treat the conditions you can’t see like cholesterol or high blood pressure or blood sugar issues. They aren’t really things you can easily identify and know you need to fix them and that’s why it’s important to encourage men to visit with their primary care doctor and manage overall health to stay on top of these things.
The typical story you hear is that a guy hasn’t been to the doctor for the last two decades and unfortunately has a heart attack or diabetes and then they find out they have all these issues they need to work on. Instead of being caught off guard by a major health event, what we try to do as primary care doctors is identify those issues early, monitor them and try to prevent them from ever happening.
Why are men’s life expectancy less than women?
Men tend to drink and smoke much more than women. They tend not to go to the doctor at rates they need to screen for health concerns and they need to also focus on men’s health specific issues such as prostate health, testicular cancer, etc.
What should I do if I don’t have a doctor?
Find out if your work offers you healthcare and if so, use it! Also look into whether your state offers a program like SoonerCare to cover you. Getting into see your primary care physician is your first line of defense against chronic disease like diabetes, heart attacks, etc.
Are there health screenings I can do without a doctor?
Doing a basic testicular cancer check is a screening men can do on a regular basis. Checking your skin for any new growths, changes, etc. especially if you work outdoors can also help significantly with catching skin cancer early.
What is important about prostate health?
Prostates are huge part of your urinary health. It can make you have a hard time going to the bathroom, it can make you get up numerous times a night to have to go to the bathroom and it can be a cancer source. Keeping an eye on the prostate is very important for men.
How do I take care of my mental health?
Depression may affect more than 6 million men in the United States and while everyone has good and bad days – depression should not be a normal. There is a lot of stigma around dealing with depression, but working on it can improve your energy, your interest in life and your general mood. Whether it’s medication, or just talking to someone, it can help.
You can start by bringing up your concerns to your primary care doctor. From there, they can help or they can refer to you to other resources. Another great resource is Norman Regional’s Outpatient Counseling Center, which helps patients with things like depression and anxiety or other mental health issues.
Is there anything I should do especially as an African-American male?
African-American males have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension and cancer than the average white male in the United States. These are all conditions that your primary care doctor can help you catch early and treat.
Is there anything else that you’d like to include before we finish this interview?
As a male and someone who also didn’t go to the doctor for a long time, I understand that some folks are slow to get on top of their health, but I encourage men to find a primary care doctor in their area and get established because it can pay huge dividends over the course of the next 20 to 30 years of your life and will help avoid a potential health crisis later on.
If you need a primary care doctor, I, or one of my colleagues at Norman Regional, would be happy to care for you. You can call 405-515-5000 to schedule with the right provider for you.
To learn more about Dr. Som and watch his provider video, click here.