June is National Men’s Health Month, the perfect time to learn more about the steps that men of all ages can take to prevent certain health problems through early detection and treatment.
National Men’s Health Week—which is also celebrated in June, leading up to Father’s Day—was designated by Congress and President Clinton in 1994 to promote awareness of health issues that affect men in particular. Here are a few steps men can take to stay healthy and safe.
Schedule Regular Checkups
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, men are more likely than women to skip regular checkups and avoid seeking medical care when symptoms do arise. A study by Cleveland Clinic found only three in five men surveyed get an annual physical and just over 40% visit the doctor with a serious medical condition.
There are plenty of reasons men cite for not scheduling regular doctor visits: a lack of insurance, not having a trusted primary care practitioner, or not taking a serious interest in their health.
But regular checkups are a great chance to check in with your health care provider and get any necessary screenings to identify issues before they become a problem. Prostate cancer, for example, is the second most common cancer among men. Knowing your risk factors and early detection are two key ways to catch prostate cancer early, when it’s easier to treat. A simple blood test can often detect prostate cancer, though it’s best to talk to your doctor about whether this screening is right for you.
Many men also report being uncomfortable discussing certain issues related to health, such as erectile dysfunction. But this can often be a warning sign of other health issues, like diabetes. It’s important to find a doctor you can trust and have an open discussion with.
It’s also helpful to know and understand your family health history and share it with your doctor for a more complete picture of your health and risk factors.
Care For Your Heart
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men of all races and ethnicities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Half of men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms, which means you may be at risk and not even know it.
There are plenty of things you can do to protect your heart:
- Eat a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Don’t smoke
- Limit alcohol use
Seek Help for Depression
Depression is one of the leading causes of disease or injury among all people, though symptoms may be different between men and women. Male depression often goes untreated and may be masked by unhealthy coping behaviors. In addition to feeling sad, hopeless, or empty; feeling extremely tired; having difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much; or not getting pleasure from activities they usually enjoy, men may also show less recognizable signs such as:
- Escapist behavior, such as spending a lot of time at work or on sports
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive problems, and pain
- Problems with alcohol or drug use
- Controlling, violent, or abusive behavior
- Irritability or inappropriate anger
- Risky behavior, such as reckless driving
Asking for help can be difficult, but with treatment, such as psychotherapy or medication, depression can usually improve. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. And if you or someone you know is in a crisis situation or contemplating suicide, seek help immediately by calling 911, visiting the local emergency department, or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255); TTY: 800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.
Visit the Wellness page on wpshealth.com and search “Men’s Health” to learn more about a variety of health topics that affect men, from hair loss to prostate cancer screenings.
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