Contributed by- Dr. Snehal Singh
When was the last time you visited a doctor or went for a health checkup?
We live in an extremely busy world with hardly any time to relax and pay attention to our health. Men carry various responsibilities as son, husband, father and friend. All of us have never ending expectations from the men in our lives. Men have always been portrayed as the providers and protectors of the society thus being vulnerable is quite contradictory to their expected macho image. Men are often too proud or embarrassed to admit about their health issues. In a lot of cases they suffer from self denial and ignore the symptoms which leads to delay in the diagnosis and timely treatment. Unhealthy lifestyle and lack of awareness are also huge culprits behind various modern day health problems and lower life expectancy in males. But the truth is that none of us are immune to health problems and as humans it is only obvious to fall sick and suffer from health issues.
It is really important to pay attention to your health and know all about the health risks. No time is better than now to take action. So, read about the 10 most common health risks all men should know about:
Heart disease and stroke
Poor lifestyle choices is one of the major cause behind heart diseases and stroke. Common health issues like high cholesterol and high blood pressure puts men at a higher risk of several heart problems. The most common factors that lead to heart problems are:
- Untimely and unhealthy diet
- Lack of physical activity
- Unhealthy sleep routine
Changing these habits and following a healthy routine can bring a lot changes in your health and lower the heart related risks. Take necessary and regular medications for high cholesterol and blood pressure as recommended by the doctor. Know your health risks with lipid profile and other tests for heart diseases.
Diabetes is another common health problem which does not even spare young men. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder and people who are overweight or have excess abdominal fat and irregular diet patterns are more prone to it. Early signs and symptoms of diabetes include:
- Increased thirst
- Excess urination
- Weight loss
Proper diet and healthy lifestyle changes along with appropriate medications can help control diabetes and prevent its complications. Know your risk for diabetes with blood glucose test and monitor the progress with HbA1c (shows blood sugar levels over a particular period of time) for proper detection and timely treatment.
Do you often indulge in smoking or an occasional puff? It can have severe affects on your heath and can cause real harm to your lungs. Chronic and passive smoking, exposure to pollutants are some of the major causes of lung diseases. Men suffer or are more prone to various respiratory diseases and lung problems like:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) – COPD includes various lung disorders like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and forms of bronchiectasis.
Asthma – Asthma is one of the most common respiratory disease which includes episodes of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath (known as asthma attack).
Bronchitis – Inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes is termed as bronchitis. It can be both chronic and acute.
According to studies, India contributes a significant percentage of death due to COPD which is among the highest in the world.
Liver damage or disorders are particularly due to drinking alcohol and faulty dietary habits. Men often indulge in binge drinking at parties, gatherings and even at home. Do not forget your limits while drinking. Various liver conditions common in men are:
- Fatty liver
- Liver abscess
However, timely investigations can help to detect and fight liver diseases at early stage. Controlled alcohol consumption, exercise and healthy diet can ensure good liver health.
Kidneys are really important. Kidney disorders can lead to major health problems and can be fatal as well. Men are at a higher risk of kidney problems like:
- Kidney stones
- Urinary infections
- Renal damage
- Increased uric acid
- Kidney failure
Blood and urine tests along with clinical symptoms can help detect urinary infection and kidney stones. Kidney functions tests that measure serum like uric acid, creatinine and blood urea nitrogen test (BUN) are advised to detect early kidney disease.
Depression is usually considered more common in women but recent studies have shown that men are at a greater risks of mental health problems including depression. Depression also leads to an increased number of suicides in men as compared to women. Increasing work stress, social pressures and other problems have seen a steep rise in depression and other mental health issues in men. Men suffering from depression may appear unenthusiastic, disturbed, less social and may lack self-esteem. Depression is still a taboo in our society and various social stigmas related to it leads to ignorance of the disease.
It is important for all to know that depression too is a major health risk and men can suffer from it as well. So, do not shy away, rather reach out for proper and professional help.
Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer generally affecting young men. Testicular cancer is a cancer of the testis (a male reproductive part). This cancer is curable with timely diagnosis with proper treatment. Young boys and men are advised to perform testicular self-examination regularly to be aware of any problem. The symptoms that require immediate medical consultation include:
- Any change in size of the testis
- Pain and swelling in the testis
Further, medical examination and advanced blood tests can help confirm the diagnosis and one can plan further treatment accordingly.
Prostate cancer is most common in middle aged or elderly men. Prostate is a male gland that produces sperm and a vital part of male anatomy. The symptoms of prostate cancer includes:
- Burning pain or difficulty in passing urine
- Increased frequency of urination
- Erection problems
- Blood in semen
Tests like prostate specific antigen (PSA) help to detect risk of prostate cancer.
Colorectal or bowel cancer
Bowel or colorectal cancer is generally seen in elderly men and is increasingly common nowadays. It is also known as rectal or colon cancer. Early signs of bowel cancer shows:
- Changes in bowel habits
- Difficulty in passing of stools
- Abdominal discomfort
Some risk factors of bowel cancer are as follows:
- Chronic bowel problems
- Faulty dietary habits
- High intake of processed meats
- Family history
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting men as well. Uncontrolled growth of cancer cells in the skin causes skin cancer and if left untreated it can spread to other parts of the body. The most common symptoms if persists, should never be ignored are:
- Red patches on the skin
- Changes in a mole
- Bleeding or itching from a mole or a wart
- Unusual spots
- Any irregularities on skin
Know your risk for skin cancer by regular screenings and check your skin for any changes.
Important health screenings for men
Every man should opt for proper health checkups at regular intervals as medically advised. Stop taking your health for granted and start taking steps towards a healthier and more aware you. Here is a list of preventive health screenings and tests to detect early health risks in men:
- Testicular self-examination every month
- Complete physical examination with blood pressure checking
- Blood tests for lipid profile and blood sugar
- Stool test for rectal and colon cancer
- Screenings for various cancers affecting testicles, thyroid, lymph nodes, oral and skin
- Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test
- Digital rectal exam (DRE)
- Colonoscopy for colon cancers in aging men
Living healthily is all about keeping yourself fit and staying abreast with possible health problems. It is high time that you start paying attention to your health. Get started and know all your health risk with appropriate blood tests and incase of any concerns, take proper medical advice.
Your health is the most precious gift so take care of it. Stay alert, Stay healthy!
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