The Men’s Health Month observance heightens awareness of preventable health problems and encourages early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. It is a great opportunity as moms, wives and daughters to educate our boys/men about establishing a lifelong commitment to living a healthy lifestyle. Regular checkups and age-appropriate screenings CAN improve health, raise awareness of family predisposition, and reduce premature death. In the long run, it can also evoke healthy changes among your family’s future generations.
BLOOD PRESSUREFrequency – Ages 18+: Every 1-2 yearsHigh blood pressure (Hypertension) has no symptoms, but can cause permanent damage to body organs. Hypertension increases your risk for heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.
BLOOD TESTS & URINALYSISFrequency – Ages 20-39: Every 3 years; Ages 40-49: Every 2 years; Ages 50+: Every yearScreens for various illnesses and diseases, such as cholesterol, diabetes, kidney or thyroid dysfunction, before symptoms occur. Checking for high cholesterol is especially important if he uses tobacco; if he is obese; if he has diabetes or high blood pressure; if he has personal history of heart disease or blocked arteries; or if a man in his family had a heart attack before age 50 or a woman before age 60. Men are 22% more likely to neglect these tests, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
BONE HEALTHFrequency – Ages 60+: Discuss with physicianBone mineral density test. Testing is best done under the supervision of his physician.
CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASEFrequency – Ages 45+: Discuss with physicianHe should ask his doctor if he should take aspirin every day to help lower his risk of a heart attack. How much aspirin he should take depends on his age, health and lifestyle. AHRQ stat: Men are 28% more likely to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure.
CHEST X-RAYFrequency – Ages 40+: Discuss with physicianHis physician should consider this test if he is a smoker over the age of 45. The usefulness of this test on a yearly basis is debatable due to poor cure rates of lung cancer.
COLORECTAL HEALTHFrequency – Ages 50+: Every 3-4 yearsThis test examines the rectum, sigmoid and descending colon for cancer at its earliest and treatable stages. It also detects polyps, which are benign growths that can progress to cancer if not found early. If he has a family history of colorectal cancer, he may need to be tested prior to age 50.
DIABETESFrequency – Ages 20+: Discuss with physicianIf his blood pressure is higher than 135/80, ask his doctor to test him for diabetes. Diabetes, or high blood sugar, can cause problems with his heart, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves and other body parts. AHRQ Stat: Men are 32% more likely to be hospitalized for long-term complications of diabetes, and more than twice as likely to have a leg or foot amputated.
DEPRESSIONFrequency – Ages 20+: Discuss with physicianIf he has felt “down” or hopeless during the past two weeks or his has had little interest in doing things he usually enjoys, talk to his doctor about depression. Depression is a treatable illness.
EKGFrequency – Ages 30 – Baseline; Ages 40-49: Every 4 years; Ages 50+: Every 3 yearsElectrocardiogram screens for heart abnormalities.
HEMOCCULTFrequency – Ages 40+: Every yearScreens the stool for microscopic amounts of blood that can be the first indication of polyps or colon cancer.
IMMUNIZATIONSFrequency – Ages 20+: Every yearGet a flu shot every year. If he is 65 or older, get a pneumonia shot. Depending on health problems, he may need a pneumonia shot at a younger age or need shots to prevent diseases like whooping cough or shingles. AHRQ Stat: Men are 24% more likely to be hospitalized for pneumonia.
PHYSICAL EXAMFrequency – Ages 20-39: Every 3 years; Ages 40-49: Every 2 years; Ages 50+: Every yearReview overall health status, perform a thorough physical exam and discuss health-related topics
PROSTATE SPECIFIC ANTIGEN BLOOD TESTFrequency – Ages 50+: Every yearPSA is produced by the prostate. Levels rise when there is an abnormality such as an infection, enlargement or cancer. Testing should be done in collaboration with your physician. African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer may wish to begin prostate screening at age 40 or earlier.
RECTAL EXAMFrequency – Ages 20+: Every yearScreens for hemorrhoids, lower rectal problems, colon and prostate cancer.
SELF-EXAMSFrequency – Ages 20+: Monthly by selfTesticle: To find lumps in their earliest stages.
Skin: To look for signs of changing moles, freckles, or early skin cancer.
Oral: To look for signs of cancerous lesions in the mouth.
Breast: To find abnormal lumps in their earliest stages.
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASESFrequency – Ages 20-39: Under physician supervision; Ages 40+: Discuss with physicianSexually active adults who consider themselves at risk for STDs should be screened for syphilis, chlamydia and other STDs.
TESTOSTERONE SCREENINGFrequency – Ages 40+: Discuss with physicianLow testosterone symptoms include low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue and depression. Initial screening for symptoms with a questionnaire followed by a simple blood test.
TETANUS BOOSTERFrequency – Ages 20+: Every 10 yearsPrevents lockjaw.
TUBERCULIN SKIN TESTFrequency – Ages 20+: Every 5 years
A TB Skin Test should be done on occasion of exposure or suggestive symptoms at the direction of physician. Some occupations may require more frequent testing for public health indications.
According to AHRQ, “Men are 24% LESS likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year.” To maintain good health, it is important for a man to regularly meet with his healthcare provider and to have the appropriate screenings, especially if he is among the high risk groups or his family has a history of disease.
Our final Men’s Health Month words of advice for men – and the women who love them – is to stay physically active, to make healthy food choices, to attain a healthy weight, to avoid tobacco products, to make informed decisions when it comes to alcohol, and to proactively consult with a healthcare provider when you notice changes or have health questions. Last month may have been Men’s Health Month, but it is important for men to take care of their health all year, every year.
Sources: www.menshealthnetwork.org, www.ahrq.gov, www.cdc.gov