OK, guys. This month is for you.
The month of June features a special focus on Men’s Health. A good reminder for men to pay attention to health signals and age-adjusted concerns. Guys, a little attention goes a long way—especially when it comes to providing yourselves with the best opportunity for early detection and treatment of health issues that may impact your longevity and quality of life. So, with the help of Myhealthkc, let’s break things down by the numbers. Based on age, here are some cautionary tales for men’s health.
Health concerns for men in their 20s:
Normally there are few major health concerns at this stage of men’s lives. But men in their 20s also feel this is their age of invincibility and often hold attitudes and behavioral practices that could impact their health long-term. Three lifestyles or habits to keep an eye on:
*Drinking. Especially binge drinking. Perhaps a remnant from care-free college days, binge drinking can contribute to health issues, especially heart issues, down the line. If you consume alcohol, try to do so responsibly.
*Skipping regular medical exams. Young men, especially those in their 20s, tend only to go to the doctor when something is wrong. But by skipping annual check-ups with family physicians or primary care doctors, men run the risk of failing to detect small health issues early on, which may lead to more serious developments as they age.
*You are what you eat. Fast and furious work schedules combined with fast-paced lifestyles in the 20s often also lead to heavy consumption of fast food. Lack of proper nutrients, adequate amounts of fruits and veggies in the 20s can lead to problems in the 30s-40s-50s-and beyond.
Men in their 30s-40s
This is the age bracket where annual check-ups and preventive practices really do have a profound impact on overall men’s health. During this period men are advised to pay special attention to:
Cholesterol levels, especially between ages 35-45; stress, as many men find themselves balancing work, social life, family responsibilities and parenthood; and blood pressure, a silent killer if left undetected and untreated. Annual check-ups and good communication with your primary care physician really takes on added importance. Out-of-whack cholesterol, additional stress and rising blood pressure can combine to form the perfect storm of serious health issues right around the corner.
This is the age where men should be on the lookout for and strive for early detection and treatment of the BIG 3: Cancer, Prostate and Heart Health.
Colon cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in men at this age. Family medical history comes into play so be sure to discuss this with your primary care physician. Starting around the age of 50, men should also be routinely screened for prostate cancer—early detection means a world of difference in the outcome. And those earlier lifestyle, diet, and stress issues discussed above? They really come home to roost as men hit their 50s. The leading cause of death in men 45-55 is heart disease. Frequent cholesterol and blood pressure screenings are vital to detecting and treating potential health concerns that, left untreated, can quickly mushroom.
Why men are reluctant to focus on their own health issues:
We may no longer live in the age of the Marlboro Man or in the image of tough and independent characters often portrayed by John Wayne in Westerns, but many men remain reluctant to talk about their own health issues and are hesitant to seek early detection and treatment for them. Especially as they age. Both the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and Healthline.com, agree the most common reasons behind that reluctance are three- fold: fear of a bad diagnosis; stereotypical mindsets that suggest seeking medical help is a sign of weakness; and often in middle-aged men, the embarrassment of discussing common problems that come with growing older such as erectile dysfunction and urinary tract issues.
Kinard Cooper, ARNP with Brevard Health Alliance, says those conversations may be difficult for men to initiate with their doctors, but they are vital. Equally important, suggests Cooper, are routine tests and screenings important to overall men’s health care.
“General health screenings are common aspects of men’s health care,” he explains.
“They are used to discover disease and risk factors for disease with the purpose of reducing morbidity and mortality. Screenings offered in men’s health can lead to early discovery of potential disorders and provide information regarding current health issues.”
Cooper also points out that screenings specific to men as they age should be a part of a health care blueprint.
“Screenings such as Colonoscopies, IFOBS (stool-sample tests) and PSAs (prostate-specific antigen tests) are specific men’s screenings that are evidenced based and used to detect specific types of cancers.”
And Cooper adds that men can do themselves a world of good if they continue to practice a simple, but sometimes overlooked ingredient to health and vitality: exercise.
“Men who exercise regularly have benefits such as disease prevention, improved cognitive functioning, decreased risks of falls, and improved mental health and well-being.
“As men age, regular exercise helps to preserve healthy body weight, which can reduce physical injuries and chronic illnesses. Diminished physical activity can lead to increased clinic visits, hospitalizations, and increased illnesses.”
And Cooper adds, “Regular exercise is often used to diminish stress and anxiety.”