For Men Only: Know your Health

Although some might argue that men have the upper hand in most aspects of society, when it comes to men’s health they tend to fall short. This is may be because men have higher rates of drinking alcohol and smoking, but they also tend to avoid seeking medical help.

"Men put their health last," says Demetrius Porche, DNS, RN, editor in chief of the American Journal of Men's Health. "Most men's thinking is, if they can live up to their roles in society, then they're healthy." Unfortunately, providing for a family and succeeding professionally doesn’t always add up to a clean bill of health. Luckily many of the most common health risks in men can be treated, and even prevented, if diagnosed early enough.

Prevention is an important factor in reducing risk for any number of illnesses and diseases, and regular screening is the best defense anyone has to stay healthy. But which medical screening are critical to men’s health? We will take a look at some factors for men to keep an eye on their health.

For men in their 20s and 30s, an annual check-up is the best way to determine your overall health or get it back on track. This is a general examination of height, weight and blood pressure. A reputable internist or GP may even order a comprehensive blood test (CBC), also listen to your heart and lungs to test for any abnormalities; scan your skin to look for any irregular pigmentation or moles; take a look in your mouth, ears, and eyes; and feel your lymph nodes and abdomen for any lumps or bumps. Also, checking your testicles (monthly) and prostate become more important for men in their 30s. Ask for instructions on how to do a self-examination as well.

In your 40s, men need to know their family medical history, particularly paternal.  In mid-life the risk of serious health problems, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer go up. According the American Heart Association, 1 in 3 men has some type of cardiovascular disease. And studies show that men have to work harder than women to reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke, so think about:

  • Checking your cholesterol profile at least every five years (from age 25 upwards).
  • Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol, if they're high.
  • Quitting smoking and tobacco use.
  • Reducing (or eliminating) alcohol intake.
  • Increasing your physical activity level to 30 minutes per day, 4-5 days of the week.
  • Eating more fruits and leafy vegetables and less saturated or trans fats.

Men who’ve reached 50 should consider scheduling a colonoscopy, or already in your 40s if you have a family history. Some medical experts suggest a prostate screening as well at this age. However, exercise and diet are two critical factors that you can control on your own. See a health profession to discuss your health and medical history. In general, when a condition or illness is diagnosed early, it is easier to treat and has a better outcome.  Remember your health is your most valuable asset, and it's never too early (or too late) to take better care of yourself.


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