This month is a time to raise awareness about men’s health and encourage the males in our lives to live healthier. Statistics show women are living, on average, five years longer than men. Women are one hundred percent more likely to visit their health care provider annually for a checkup. Irregular or no visits with their provider are impacting men and their health. Encourage men to take control of their health and teach young boys healthy habits.
Some of today’s most common diseases are preventable through early detection with routine screenings. Read on to learn about diseases that are prevalent among the male population and common ways providers screen for them.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death among men. Risk factors for heart disease include obesity, physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking, excessive alcohol intake, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Unfortunately, half of the men who die suddenly due to heart disease, had no previous symptoms. Early detection and intervention are key. Screening may include blood pressure, cholesterol panel, body weight and body mass index, waist circumference, and blood glucose.
The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system and aides in semen production. Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men and the second leading cause of cancer related death. Risk factors for prostate cancer include advancing age, African-American race and family history. Prostate-specific antigen or PSA is a protein produced by the prostate. The PSA level can be assessed by a blood test and is used to screen for prostate cancer, sometimes in addition to a digital rectal exam. There are risks and benefits with this test, so it is important to discuss this with your provider to help determine if this screening is appropriate for you.
Diabetes affects more than thirty million Americans. To break it down by gender; 15.5 million men and 13.4 million women have diabetes. It is estimated 7 million are considered pre-diabetic and do not know it. American Indian and Alaskan natives are 2.2 times more likely to develop diabetes compared to their non-native counterpart. Unfortunately, there are rarely any symptoms until the disease has progressed, which is why screening is so important. Screening for diabetes is a simple blood test.
Depression in men is severely undiagnosed, contributing to the fact that men are four times as likely to commit suicide as women. Males make up nearly 75 percent of the suicide population in the United States, with one man committing suicide every twenty minutes. There are questionnaires your provider may use to screen for depression. Because men are less likely to discuss their feelings or seek help, their symptoms may also differ from that of women. If you are feeling depressed or think you may be suffering from depression, it is important to schedule an appointment with your health care provider to discuss what treatment options may be appropriate for you.
What you can do
Prevention is key, and it starts with seeing your doctor. If it has been more than 12 months since your last visit, now is a great time to schedule your annual exam. Also, exercise more. The benefits of physical activity on health outcomes are extensive. Improve your eating. It’s important to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Studies show diets that are rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish have a lower incidence of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Finally, if you smoke, stop.
Make the change today and encourage the males in your life to do the same. You can change statistics and allow males of all ages to live happier and healthier.