Maintaining good health is a crucial aspect of living a long and happy life. Too many men, however, don’t prioritize their well being. In fact, the overwhelming majority of men don’t visit the doctor when they need to.
June is Men’s Health Month and offers a great time to learn about how to look after your own well being. While it’s important that you don’t worry excessively about your health, it’s also crucial to recognize serious issues in yourself so you can get the help you need. Here are the most important concerns that men of all ages need to look out for in order to lead healthier lives.
Most young people don’t worry about their health. While that’s partly justified– it’s fairly uncommon for young people to fall gravely ill– there are still serious issues that often affect the young male population specifically. In fact, men are twice as likely to die young than women are. The two most common health issues that affect this statistic are serious but largely treatable: testicular cancer and mental health concerns.
Testicular cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in men ages 18-40 and is typically treated with surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. It has a 97% survival rate, however, when discovered early. Be sure to perform regular self-exams, looking for lumps in the testicles, and bring up any concerns with your doctor.
Mental health is another serious problem at this age, yet men aren’t seeking help in the numbers that women are. In fact, young men commit 70% of all suicides. It’s important that you recognize the symptoms of mental health issues in yourself or loved ones, including social withdrawal, low energy and suicidal thoughts. If you notice these, reach out to your physician or find a local therapist to speak with. Most mental health issues are treatable with either counseling, medication, lifestyle changes or a combination of all three, but it’s crucial that you reach out for professional help first.
As men age, health concerns expand; men in their 40s-60s face very different issues than they did in their younger years. It’s during this age that most men begin health screenings for diseases like colon cancer, diabetes and lung cancer. One of the most prevalent health concerns that occurs most often during this age range, however, is heart disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men in the United States. While this is a scary statistic, there are several lifestyle choices you can make to help prevent developing the disease. Try to avoid smoking, limit alcohol use, eat healthily, and exercise regularly to protect your heart and keep blood flowing smoothly. Annual checkups with your physician can also catch and address issues that put additional stress on the heart like high cholesterol or blood pressure.
Men over the age of 65 face similar health issues to those in their 50s, so it’s important to continue regular screenings for concerns like colon cancer and diabetes even into your senior years. These are important to staying on top of your health, but it’s also crucial to understand the most common health issue for older men: prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer will affect about 1 in 9 men in their lifetimes, with the average age of diagnosis being 66. This means that men are at a much higher risk of developing the disease as they age. Regular prostate exams administered by your doctor can help detect the cancer and address it before it becomes deadly. Just keep in mind, however, that prostate cancer’s treatments, like surgery and radiation therapy, can cause lifestyle disruptions. These range from hair loss to the development of sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction and low libido. If you experience any of these issues post-treatment, mention it to your doctor. Most are easily treated and don’t need to interrupt your life.
One of the best things that you can do for your health this June is to educate yourself on what you’re most at risk for. Although it may be intimidating, this knowledge will help you take back control of your health and spell out when you need to seek medical help.