June is Men’s Health Month. During this time of baseball, fishing, hiking and other activities that keep guys (and gals!) on the go, it’s a good time to focus on maintaining men’s overall fitness and well-being.
Generally speaking, men are notorious for avoiding doctor visits. I’d be remiss in not emphasizing the general part, when I think of one man in particular – my brother.
An active, healthy man in his 40s, he is an exception. My big brother has always been mindful about scheduling regular checkups and seeing his doctor if a twinge, bruise, or ache isn’t better in a couple of days. Unfortunately, this level of health vigilance is not common for the majority of men.
So often, you hear wives and mothers talk about having to push, prod, and even nag the men in their lives to set a doctor’s appointment. But it’s all in love … and with good reason.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 12% of men over 18 are in fair or poor health. The following conditions, in particular, should be on men’s radar. In many cases, these illnesses can be prevented, treated, or controlled through proper diet, exercise, and medical attention.
Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, is the number one cause of death for men (and women, for that matter) in the U.S. Several conditions fall under the umbrella of “heart disease”; a few include heart failure, heart attack, and congenital heart disease (abnormalities in the heart that are present before birth). There aren’t always warning signs of heart disease. But some symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, and numbness in your extremities.
If you have heart disease, you can live a healthier, fuller life by learning more about your condition, following your treatment plan, and becoming an active participant in your health.
Strokes are caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain due to a blocked blood vessel of bleeding in the brain. They are the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in our nation. Smokers, seniors, and African Americans are especially affected.
Signs that a person may be having a stroke include an inability to speak, a strained expression, and confusion. High cholesterol levels are often associated with strokes. If your cholesterol levels are elevated, your doctor may prescribe medications called statins.
You can avoid other risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure by staying tobacco-free, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet full of fresh vegetables, fruits, and unprocessed foods.
Cancer of the lungs and prostate are the two main cancers to keep an eye on for men.
With lung cancer, the best way to lower your risk is by not smoking, or quit smoking. While there are cases of non-smokers contracting lung cancer, smokers are still at greater risk.
Prostate cancer affects an estimated three out of every ten men in their 50s. A slow growing cancer, the disease is often without symptoms. However, studies have shown that a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and fish – especially salmon -- may help prevent this disease.
Chronic lower respiratory diseases affect the lungs. The most serious of these conditions is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is most often caused by smoking. Persons affected by COPD have a difficult time breathing and experience a tightening sensation in their chest. Medicines are used to treat the disease.
Remember men, don’t ignore your healthcare needs. Get checked out every year, and receive the necessary screening tests. Your good health starts with you!