……get proper medical check ups.
When men get sick or have any symptom, they complain, ignore it, try a remedy they read online, or do anything EXCEPT go seek medical help.
Case in point: my husband. He works in as a pharmacy manager in a hospital and while at work (did I mention he works in a hospital?) had to be physically lead to the Emergency Room by a nurse co-worker because he was having symptoms of a heart attack (chest pain, sweating, shortness of breath). When asked why he didn’t think to go to the ER himself, he said, “I was in an important meeting and I didn’t want to leave.”
Thankfully, he did not have a heart attack, but this is not uncommon with men.
It is theorized that men are taught to “grin and bear it” when it comes to feeling bad. In fact research finds that men are 24% less likely to see a doctor than women. To go to the doctor may be seen as “whimpy”, and we all know, society frowns on the wimps of the world.
It’s often the partner’s job to force a man to get a check up or see about that groin pain. With encouragement and support, hopefully the task won’t be impossible.
Getting regular check ups can identify and prevent health conditions. And you know what they say about an ounce of prevention……..
Mens’ Health Issues
The top 5 killers in men are:
- heart disease
- prostate cancer
- lung cancer
Let’s look a these in terms of prevention and what a check up can do.
1 & 2 Heart disease and stroke risk factors develop over time. Being a man is one risk factor already. In order for men to know if they are at risk, they have to get check ups to measure:
- blood pressure…this gradually creeps up over the years. Regular check ups especially after age 40 could catch this and treat it. Having a doctor (whether it be an MD, DO or ND or Naturopath) keep record of these reading and keep tabs on it helps to see trends. (Everyone at every age should know what their blood pressure is. It’s quick, painless, and free at most pharmacies.)
- cholesterol...again, this creeps up over time and can be associated with being overweight, smoking, and sedentary or family history.
- diabetes…regular screenings for high blood sugar can identify problems before they become dangerous
- weight…having a doctor tell you “you are clinically obese” and help you with weight loss makes more of an impact than having your wife tell you “you’ve outgrown your belt.”
- smoking…guys don’t like being told what to do, but if they hear it from a medical professional, maybe they’ll listen. I am not a big proponent of drugs if you can avoid them, but in this case smoking cessation drug eventual benefits outweigh the risks if you just can’t quit. You can check out a previous post here on quitting.
Getting these risk factors for heart disease and stroke under control requires you know your current levels and monitor them for changes. This requires a check up.
3 Suicide is a result of clinical depression that, if identified, can be treated and prevented. Men are 4x as likely to commit suicide than women. Unlike the usual symptoms of lack of interest or energy, and insomnia, men can also exhibit depression by:
- anger & aggression
- work “burn-out”
- risk taking behavior
- midlife crisis
- alcohol and substance abuse
4 Lung Cancer is the most prevalent cancer in both men and women killing more than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined. Again, with 90% of all lung cancer being caused by tobacco, a check up would help push towards quitting.
5 Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in men. Prostate cancer does not just affect older men, in fact, 30% of all prostate cancers occur in men under 65. “The younger a man is, the more aggressive the tumor is,” says Stephen F. Sener, MD, American Cancer Society president. Screening can detect pre-cancerous conditions and save lives:
- a blood test called a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) can detect changes in the prostate tissue and along with other factors and symptoms can point out future risk. For men who have a family member that has had prostate cancer, or for African Americans, who are at higher risk, a PSA should be done at age 40 or 45. For everyone else a yearly test after the age of 50 is recommended. An elevated PSA does not mean you have cancer, as it tests for prostate abnormality including Benign prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) or infection.
- Diet plays a key factor in prostate cancer risk. Diets high in dairy and red meat can increase risk, while diets high in fruits and veggies, especially cruciferous foods like broccoli, can reduce risk. Your doctor may or may not have dietary information for you, but please look on this site at the “Diet Nutrition & Exercise” tab at the top.
Testicular cancer is not on the list as it is a rare cancer (1 in 270 in a man’s lifetime) with good cure rates. Here are the facts. Having said that, there is no harm in doing a regular testicular self exam. (here’s a legitimate excuse to play with ’em, guys)
And if these aren’t good enough reasons for men to get their regular check ups, maybe they can be bribed with solutions to their hair loss or jock itch problems.
What to do & when
You will see different guidelines depending on where you look. If you have risk factors for a specific illness, these guidelines will change as well. For men:
Age 18 – 39:
- every 2-3 years blood pressure, height and weight, brief physical
- every 5 years : cholesterol & blood sugar check
Age 40 – 65:
- every year: complete physical height & weight, blood pressure, stool for blood, vision and glaucoma
- every 3-5 years: cholesterol, blood sugar, PSA
- after age 50: sigmoid or colonoscopy
- every year: complete physical with height & weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, cancer exam, stool for blood, PSA
- every 1-3 years: thyroid blood check, blood for anemia, cholesterol, blood sugar, urine, hearing, vision and glaucoma
- every 3- 5 years sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy
Regular check ups are essential for preventative health. Once you have the information of all the testing, then you can decide how you want to address them, keeping in mind that you are the patient and while your medical professional will give you suggestions, you make the final choice about your care.
But it all starts with a check up!
(Pssst…hey , if you’re man is a DAD, there is a cute site to send him an e-card from your kids to “guilt him” into getting a check up)