Men are reportedly 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor in the past year. Why is that, you might ask?
“Men have the ‘I don’t want to know’ syndrome,” said Dr. Chris Christakos of Novant Health Salem Family Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “A lot of men fear coming in to get their exams, but it’s important for them to keep up with their health and get screened.”
In fact, an estimated 12 percent of men 18 years of age and older are in fair or poor health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
National Men’s Health Week aims to heighten awareness about ways men can be healthier and stronger. Here’s a look at some preventive measures every man should be aware of.
Men should keep up with physical exams
“The best place to start is their physical exam,” Christakos said. “The physical exam is a great time to discuss tobacco and alcohol abuse, signs of depression and risk factors for sexually transmitted diseases. We also check blood pressure and do bloodwork.”
According to Christakos, the recommended schedule for a routine physical exam should be as follows:
- Age 40 and below – every three years.
- Age 40 to 49 – every other year.
- Age 50 and above – every year.
“However, if your insurance covers a yearly physical, it can’t hurt to get one,” Christakos said.
Men can prevent some health problems
Dr. Kenneth Hamby of Novant Health Oceanside Family Medicine in Bolivia, North Carolina, said some of men’s health problems are preventable by making healthy choices.
He noted that you can decrease your risk of heart disease and lung cancer with the following regular checks and lifestyle changes:
- Check cholesterol every five years beginning at age 25.
- Control blood pressure and cholesterol if they’re high.
- Stop smoking.
- Increase physical activity level to 30 minutes a day.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables and less saturated or trans fats.
Men should not neglect important screenings
Screening tests often can spot issues early that otherwise can become serious complications if left untreated. Christakos urged men to get screened for the following:
Glucose, or blood sugar, screenings should begin at age 45 or sooner if a man is at high risk for diabetes. The screenings should be repeated every three years.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Men between the ages of 65 and 75 with a history of tobacco use should be tested for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is an abnormally large or swollen blood vessel in the stomach that can burst without warning.
Christakos said colon cancer screenings, or colonoscopies, should begin at age 50 and end at age 75. If the colonoscopy comes back normal, men should have one every 10 years.
“If a man is born between 1945 and 1965, he should have a hepatitis C screening,” Christakos said. A man should also have a hepatitis C screening if he has a history of intravenous drug abuse or if he had a blood transfusion before 1992.
STDs and HIV
All men younger than 65 should been screened for HIV at least once. Men with certain risk factors should be screened at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Men should be screened for lung cancer if they are between the ages of 55 and 80 with a 30-pack year history. They should be screened if they are still smoking or if they have stopped smoking within the past 15 years.