“Quit smoking. Get a flu shot. I put those easily at the top of the list.” Hancock Family Medicine physician Dr. Matthew Surburg keeps it simple when discussing steps every man can take to stay healthy during Men’s Health Month and beyond.
As a family physician, Dr. Surburg has a much longer view of care than many in the medical field, sometimes seeing his patients from pediatric through end-of-life care. As such, he is sharing some of the common health issues men face throughout their lifetimes and suggesting ways to stay on top of them.
Mental Health & Risky Behavior
Dr. Surburg notices men in their 20s and 30s engaging in behavior they may regret later in life. Younger men, for example, tend to neglect or ignore mental health issues. “Things like depression, even something like bipolar disease or substance abuse—whether that’s alcohol or even cigarettes,” he said. “Those issues are more common for men in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.”
“A lot of men who struggle with depression may not recognize it,” Dr. Surburg said. “They just think they’re tired a lot. So, they don’t get it treated the way they need to. In some cases, this will show up as self-medicating, a lot of times with alcohol or sometimes over-the-counter illegal prescription medications, instead of getting interventions that are proven to be more successful in helping to get depression under control.”
Screenings for Chronic Disease
For men in their 40s and 50s, Dr. Surburg emphasizes the importance of regular screenings for things including heart disease and prostate cancer, and of staying on top of their immunizations.
“For men in their 50s, colorectal screenings really become important,” he said. “There’s some debate about how to handle prostrate screenings because of some of the challenges around the PSA test. But keeping up on all your immunizations—including annual flu shots and, once you turn 55, the two different pneumococcal that are available—can help maximize your lifespan.”
Dr. Surburg is encouraged by the at-home colonoscopy screenings that have shown up in the last couple of years. “The ability to do a stool sample in the privacy of your own home and get it tested is something that might be an attractive alternative to a colonoscopy,” he said.
A good night’s sleep
“Chronic sleep deprivation itself can lead to a number of problems,” he said. “Obstructive sleep apnea is fairly common for men of a heavier build, and increases the risk of heart disease. With CPAP—Continuous Positive Air Pressure—that’s something that can be treated quite successfully.”
Dr. Surburg encourages men to stay vigilant about their sleep patterns. “If you wake up tired, it’s worth finding out why,” he said. “Is there something specific disrupting your sleep? Are you simply not spending enough hours in bed? Or is something else going on?”
Do you struggle with sleep or often feel tired? The Hancock Sleep Disorder Center may have a solution for you.
Men and Covid-19
Dr. Surburg was unaware of any additional risks that men face specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. He urged men to follow the same best practices that keep everyone safe: wearing masks in public, social distancing, and frequent hand washing.
Men with underlying health conditions and those caring for elderly parents or relatives have the same heightened risks as the rest of the population, and Dr. Surburg encouraged them to adhere to the CDC’s guidelines on how to stay safe.
“If you’re smoking, quit,” Dr. Surburg said, underscoring it as the best thing men can do for their health. “Some people are able to do it on their own, but you can talk with your physician about medications. And if you tried and failed once, that doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. It just means that you’ve gotta try again.”
Dr. Surburg also encourages smokers between the ages of 55 and 75 to receive a low-dose CT scan that’s now available and recommended on an annual basis.
For his part, Dr. Surburg enjoys making health possible for his patients through the stages of their life—good or bad. “I enjoy getting to know people and seeing them through the various changes of life,” he said. “Sometimes those changes are not pleasant ones, but I also find it rewarding to be able to support them through the hard times.”
To connect with Dr. Surburg or the other physicians at Hancock Family Medicine on West McKenzie Rd. in Greenfield, simply call (317) 462-2335. They’re available and ready to serve you Monday – Thursday from 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m, and on Fridays 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.