A lot can happen between visits to the doctor—especially since more than half of men skip out on their annual physical examinations, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
“You can feel great, but still have killer numbers,” says Bruce B. Campbell, MD, a men’s health specialist at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Massachusetts. “Killer” is not a good thing in this example. That’s why it’s so important to perform regular self-exams. And sorry, men – a testicular cancer self-exam isn’t enough to keep your vitals in check.
From head to toe, small changes can be red flags of serious medical conditions—ones to take to your doctor ASAP. Here are the most surprising (and easy, and quick) self-checks to make part of your morning routine.
Check: your hair
If you see: Your hair falling out in spots.
It could mean: While a receding hairline is just nature doing its thing (sorry!), your hair coming out in clumps could be stress wrecking its own havoc, Campbell says. Stress hormones can cause white blood cells to attack the hair follicles, putting your strands into no-grow mode. What’s more, when your hair growth is shut off, it can easily come out in clumps when combing or showering. While annoying, this is really just a symptom of a larger problem, as chronic stress can increase your risk of everything from heart disease to memory impairment, Campbell says.
Follow up: Understand that “stress” is not a thing all by itself. It’s a reaction – your reaction to outside life factors. If you react negatively, you feel “stress.” Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about stress management techniques such as exercise and meditation. If you have an anxiety disorder, these professionals can spot it and prescribe medications to help take the edge off. And while knocking your stress habit will help get your hair growing, you can speed things up by getting plenty of healthy-hair nutrients such as iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12. Broccoli and salmon are both pretty good bets for a full head of hair.
(Continued next week)