Each June, Men’s Health Week begins on Father’s Day. The purpose of this week is to raise awareness and promote healthy living in men of all ages. Women might neglect their health because they are busy making sure everyone else in the household is healthy, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, men are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year. This is a great reminder and an opportunity for men to set the standard for their families and loved ones and lead by example.
Scheduling a regular visit with your healthcare provider is always a good step in the right direction to keeping your health in check. Men should also receive various health screenings dependent upon age, family history, and other risk factors determined by your healthcare provider. A few regular checkups and screenings to mark on your calendar include:
• A physical exam. A thorough physical exam reviews your overall health status and provides you with an opportunity to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.
• Blood pressure. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men. High blood pressure is a risk factor for developing heart disease. Starting at age 20, have your blood pressure checked yearly.
• Rectal exam. This exam screens for hemorrhoids, lower rectal problems and colon and prostate cancer.
• PSA Blood Test. The Prostate Specific Antigen test can help detect abnormalities regarding the prostate. Consult your healthcare provider to find out if this exam is right for you.
In addition to these screenings, self-exams are another important piece of keeping yourself healthy. Self-exams for men include: testicles, skin, oral and breast. Checking your testicles helps find lumps in their earliest stages when testicular cancer is the most preventable. Monitor your skin for signs of changing moles or freckles. Oral self-exams are important to look for signs of cancerous lesions in the mouth. Men can develop breast cancer, too. Therefore, breast self-exams are important to detect any lumps. These should be performed monthly and you should notify your healthcare provider of any changes you notice—big or small. The earlier any changes are caught and treated, the better.
There are everyday changes you can make along with following adhering to your checkup and self-exam routine.
Get good sleep. Not catching enough of those precious zzz’s puts you at risk for multiple chronic conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.
If you smoke, stop. The benefits of smoking begin within 20 minutes of your last cigarette and continue for as long as you remain a non-smoker. Also, stay away from secondhand smoke. If your attempts to quit have been unsuccessful, don’t get discouraged. Ask your healthcare provider about resources to help you quit.
Get active. Take a bike ride, throw a ball around, walk your dog. It is recommended adults be active for at least two-and-a-half hours each week. The CDC suggests spreading your activity out during the week. I recommend swimming to my patients regularly. Low impact workouts, such as swimming, have tremendous health benefits.
Eat healthy and toss out the salt shaker. Your diet should consist of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Choose healthy alternatives if you need a snack during the day or night and limit items high in fat, sugar, calories and alcohol.
Every man has different healthcare needs. But, we don’t know what those needs are until we take a proactive stance for our health. Your healthcare providers are there for you. Talk to them about the best plan of care for you. For more information about men’s health, please visit the online health library at www.shannonhealth.com or www.menshealthnetwork.org.
By: Steven Alred, MD, Shannon Clinic Family PracticeTweet