Men's health continues to be a focus, with the life expectancy gap between men and women at its widest in 25 years. Experts say there could be quite a few contributing factors. One factor might be that men visit the doctor less often than women.
June is Men's Health Month, and it is a great opportunity for men to focus on their wellness and establish small steps towards a healthier future. We have some ideas about how you and the men in your life could celebrate this month.
Find a doctor you like, and show up to your visits
Everyone needs a physician they trust. It's critical to be open and honest with your doctor about your health concerns and curiosities; only then will they have all the information needed to treat you effectively.
No need to put off a doctor's visit until you're sick with the flu. Schedule annual check-ups with your physician, and don't hesitate to come into the doctor's office for symptoms like unexpected weight loss and changes in stool.
Focus on the fundamentals
We all know the basics of keeping ourselves healthy. We must eat well, get moving, quit smoking and drink less alcohol. It's easy to brush these foundations of good health to the side when life becomes stressful and calendars are booked.
During Men's Health Month, consider focusing on the fundamentals again. You can start with small changes, then as you master those, add on more healthy habits. Feel free to try some of our recommendations:
- Participate in an alcohol-free week or two
- Consider a cancer-fighting food recipe
- Challenge yourself to four 30-minute walks a week
- Incorporate stretching into your nighttime routine
- Focus on sleep hygiene, ensuring you get at least seven hours of sleep
Stay up-to-date on screenings
We've said it before, and we'll say it again — early detection can save lives and lead to better treatment options. It's imperative that men are aware of the recommended screening guidelines and follow through on making them happen. Make an appointment with your primary care physician about recommended screenings based on your personal health history and risk factors.
Parkridge Health compiled everything you need to know about your recommended screenings based on age. Get familiar with this schedule, and spread the word with your friends and family.
Screenings for men ages 25-39
Blood pressure test — Adults under 40 with no known heart disease risk factors or history of high or low blood pressure should undergo a blood pressure test every two to five years. Those with an increased risk of heart disease should be screened annually.
Blood work — Typically, adults under 40 should undergo an annual routine checkup by a healthcare provider who will ask questions to determine what blood tests are recommended.
Pulse oximetry test — Your provider may perform a pulse oximetry test as part of a routine examination (measures if the blood is well oxygenated). You may also receive this test if you have symptoms such as shortness of breath or a condition affecting your breathing, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, heart failure or COVID-19.
Skin cancer screening — People at high risk of skin cancer often have red or blonde hair, fair skin, several moles, a family or personal history of skin cancer or are frequently exposed to the sun. Please let your doctor know if you notice potential signs of skin cancer, such as new moles or ones that have changed in appearance.
Testicular cancer screening — Although rare, testicular cancer is most common in men between the ages of 15 and 34. Your provider might include a testicular cancer screening as part of your routine physical exam. Some physicians recommend that men perform self-examinations regularly after puberty.
Screenings for men ages 40-64
Blood pressure screening — Adults over 40 should have a blood pressure test, or hypertension screening, every year.
Blood work — Typically, adults over 40 should undergo annual blood testing. Common blood tests check for cholesterol levels, vitamin deficiencies, metabolic panels and blood disorders.
Colonoscopy — The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends regular screenings for most men and women starting at age 45 and strongly encourages annual screenings for those 50 to 75 years old. Your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy before you turn 45 if you have certain symptoms or risk factors.
Prostate exam — Most men begin receiving regular digital rectal exams and PSA blood-level exams at age 50 to detect prostate cancer in its earliest stages when it's most treatable.
Lung cancer screening — Annual lung cancer screenings using low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) are recommended for people aged 50 to 80 with a 20 pack-year smoking history who currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Physician referral needed.
Skin cancer screening — Your provider may or may not recommend a professional skin exam every one to three years.
Testicular cancer screening — Your provider may still include a testicular cancer screening as part of your routine physical exam.
Screenings for men 60 and older
Bone density test — Regular bone density tests are recommended for some men over 65.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening — Your provider may recommend an AAA screening if you are between 65 and 75 and have a history of tobacco use or a family history of AAA.
Other screenings and tests still recommended — Many of the previously mentioned screenings and tests recommended are still relevant to those 60 and older, such as blood pressure tests, blood work, pulse oximetry tests, colonoscopies, prostate exams, lung cancer screenings and skin cancer screenings.
Include mental health in the conversation
It's important for men to check in with their mental health and be honest about what they find. Are you irritable lately? Are you having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much? Are your emotions manageable, or do they interfere with your daily life? Brush up on the symptoms of poor mental health in men to know if it's time to talk to a doctor. If you don't have a primary care physician, call MedLine® to get a free physician referral at (423) 622-6848.
Don't wait for a health emergency to start
In most cases, the best treatment is prevention. Whether it's heart health or mental health, don't delay in making small, actionable changes to your daily habits. If it helps, think about making these changes for your loved ones. How will you commit to your health?