“I’m so embarrassed!”

From head to toe, we’re going to discuss a few topics that my patients have felt are “embarrassing” to talk about.

Black Eye: A lot of people are embarrassed by this more so because of how they received the black eye and not actually because of the black eye itself. Sure, I’m going to ask what happened and as long as it didn’t occur from an abusive relationship, then I don’t really care how it happened.

Bar fight? OK. Took a hockey puck to the eye? Ha! OK. Your 2 year old slammed her head into your face while sitting on your lap? Been there, done that!

What’s most important about having a black eye is that you are evaluated ASAP! We need to check your visual acuity, check for signs of bleeding in your brain, check for changes in mental status, and follow-up closely during the healing process.

Bad Breath: Also known as halitosis, this can be quite embarrassing for a lot of people. And yes, please go to your dentist. But if your dentist says there’s nothing wrong, then come to me! You won’t believe this but your bad breath can be an indication of something called Helicobacter Pylori, a bacterial infection in your gut. It can also be a result of gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Maybe you just need some antibiotics and/or a mouth wash? Who knows? But you won’t know for sure until you see your primary care provider!

Breasts: We typically don’t consider men having breasts but they can! And if you do, please see your primary care provider because you need some blood work drawn. You may even need a mammogram, chest x-ray, or breast ultrasound. Yep, you may need this workup as well like some women do because guess what? Men can get breast cancer!

Please, please, please, don’t be embarrassed! This is important! Let’s make sure you don’t have a brain tumor or breast cancer!

Belching and farting: I would say that the average number of burps per day is about 5-10 and the average number of farts is 10-20 per day. I had a surgical professor once tell us that men fart up to 30 times per day and women fart up to 15 times per day? Why the discrepancy? Because women didn’t want to report their full number of farts during the research project haha!

Here’s my deal on belching/farting: You should be doing it. If not, you need to be seen. If you are doing it but you’re worried about it being excessive, come see me. You may have an infection and/or you may need a colonoscopy. I’ve had patients belch and fart in exam rooms before and all I’ve done is chuckle and reassure them that it’s OK. Because it is. Everyone farts. Everyone belches. And everyone gets embarrassed about it.

Erectile Dysfunction: I’m proud of the men that discuss this with me. Why? Because it’s hard to talk about! But also because this requires fasting blood work and I find a lot of men with low testosterone, a male hormone, that can cause fatigue, depression, and erectile dysfunction when this hormone is too low. And when we replace their testosterone levels, they feel amazingly better! No more erectile dysfunction! They have more energy! They’re happier! Yes, this happens to men when they get older but it doesn’t mean we have to accept it. We have to investigate and treat it.

So, men, put your shame to the side and come in and see me about this.

Ugly toenails: Most women love pedicures! Nothing beats getting a good foot massage while sitting in a massage chair, drinking a coke, and leaving the building with some brightly colored toenails! So relaxing!

But if your toenails are too thick to cut with nail clippers, you need to come see me. If there’s been a change in color, you need to come see me. What if you’re diabetic? What if it’s a fungal infection? We should get these toes treated, especially in time to wear flip flops!

Really in truly, embarrassing topics in medicine are infinite but these were the first to pop into my head and they’re pretty common in family medicine.

When it comes to your health, don’t be embarrassed. Please seek proper care before things get worse.

When it comes to your mental health, don’t be embarrassed. We all struggle in life and we all could use some help once in a while.

And when it comes to your spiritual life, don’t be embarrassed to ask God for help. He already knows what you need before you ask for it. You just simply have to ask in order to receive.

My prayer for you today is that your feelings of embarrassment are replaced by feelings of comfort.

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