Men’s Health Month
On average, men die five years younger than women, and die at higher rates from nine of the top ten causes of death such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and suicide. Part of the reason is that men are more reluctant to go to the doctor. In fact, studies show that women go to the doctor twice as much as men.
The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to raise awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of illnesses among both men and boys. Here are few of the important health concerns for men.
1) General Health:
See your doctor regularly and schedule annual exams and get screenings for high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, diabetes, depression, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, std testing, osteoporosis and so forth.
The CDC recommends a cardio routine that is 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. Divided throughout the week, that is approximately 20 minutes a day! Those 20 minutes a day can help regulate your blood pressure and cholesterol improving your heart health.
Exercise also improves your mental health by releasing neurotransmitters called endorphins which make one feel good. So exercise benefits the body and the mind.
3) Prostate health: The prostate gland grows during puberty and then doesn’t change much until about age 40. Then it begins growing again and may and may cause one or more of three prostate conditions. Prostate cancer, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlargement of the prostate and thirdly an inflammation of the prostate called prostatitis and is usually caused by an infection, common in men under the age of 50.
4) Vaccines and Inoculations:
Men should be uptodate with recommended shots, including for flu, shingles, pneumonia and diphtheria/tetanus, especially for the elderly men in our lives.
5) Men and Depression: Symptoms of depression can be very different between men and women. Men who are depressed may appear to be angry or aggressive instead of sad. It is important to recognize the anger or aggression as depression symptoms.
6) Sexual health:
Practice safe sex and get tested for STDs. Sexually transmitted diseases are serious such as syphilis, HIV and AIDS and cause several chronic disabilities. It is a good idea to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases every time you enter a new sexual relationship.
As we age, testosterone levels tend to drop, which can cause a change in your ability to perform. However, healthy diet, regular exercise and regular checkups to detect and treat certain medical conditions can greatly reduce your chance of having this experience.
Our bones weaken with age. This process can be slowed with weight bearing exercises that help increase muscle mass and improve bone density, both of which prevent bone fractures related to injury and falls. Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D is essential as well. Sometimes your doctor may recommend other medications to improve your bone density.
Staying physically active prevents joint stiffness while maintaining good range of motion. Also maintaining healthy weight prevents progression of arthritis in weight bearing joints such as knees and hips.
Getting atleast 7-8 hours of sleep is important. Men who sleep 5 hours or less had a 60% higher risk for fatal heart attacks than men who got 7-8 hours of sleep.
Eliminate “White Foods” from your diet such as white sugar, white bread, white flour and other processed foods. They lack vitamins and minerals and increase your blood sugars leading to weight gain and diabetes. Choose fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Avoid trans fats and saturated fats that increase risk for heart disease. Healthy fats such as olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids are protective against heart disease. Cut back on alcohol consumption.
11) Stress management:
Reduce stress by meditation, yoga, or any relaxing practices.
12) Prevent skin cancer:
Use a sunscreen of at least 15 SPF, wear protective clothing, and avoid sun exposure during the hours of 10am to 4pm when sun is the strongest.
13) Eye exams:
Get regular eye exams to detect and treat cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration.
14) Dental care:
See your dentist regularly for periodic dental care.
There are quite a few things we can do to help men.
1)Encourage him to get a physical.
2)Encourage him to stay physically active.
3)Let him know you care. One reason men disregard their own health is that they’re too busy taking care of everyone else. So remind him that you and your other family members love him and need him to be alive and healthy for as long as possible.
Disclaimer: The information is intended to provide general education for patients and their families. The information provided does not constitute medical or health care advice for any individual and is not a substitute for medical and other professional advice and service.
Dr. Mahesh Ochaney is a solo practitioner who has been practicing Internal Medicine since 1991. Dr. Ochaney’s compassionate primary care has been recognized several times over the years, including being named a 2018 Top Doctor by Baltimore Magazine and receiving a State of Maryland Governor’s Citation.