By: Troy Frink at MedicarePlanFinder.com
According to Medline, the U.S National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) bibliographic database, men are more more likely than women to smoke and drink, take risks or make unhealthy choices, and not have regular checkups and medical care.
Many men’s health problems including unintentional injuries, type 2 diabetes, and complications from long-term alcohol abuse can be avoided by making healthy decisions.
Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men binge drink twice as much as women. Men face much higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women. They are also more likely to be aggressive and sexually abusive than women.
Chronic alcohol abuse increases your risk for several types of cancer such as mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon cancer.
Alcohol also hinders your body’s ability to produce hormones, which can lead to impotence and infertility.
According to the CDC, more men than women commit suicide. They are also more likely to drink beforehand.
Limiting how much you drink will help you prevent many health issues associated with longterm alcohol abuse. Heavy drinking – more than two drinks a day for men younger than 65, and more than one drink a day for men older than 65 – may lead to various types of cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is a correlation between cancer, the amount of alcohol you drink, and the duration of regular drinking. Alcohol abuse can also raise your blood pressure.
Depression, Suicide and Mental Health Concerns
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), men are less likely to receive treatment for mental health than women. NIMH researchers estimate that every year, at least six million men suffer from depressive disorders that include suicidal thoughts.
Depression is one of the hardest diseases to fight, because the disease can drastically lower your motivation and concern for your own health. You can help fight and prevent depression through:
- Exercising regularly, even if you just take your dog for a walk or jog around your neighborhood
- Writing your thoughts down or keeping a journal
- Open communication with friends and family
- Professional help including psychotherapy or medical treatment
Suicide Prevention Guidelines
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Call 911 if you think someone is at immediate risk of harming themselves or someone else. Stay with that person until emergency help arrives. Be sure to remove anything that may cause harm including firearms, knives, and non-essential medications. Listen to the person with a nonjudgmental ear. Do not argue or threaten.
According to the CDC, unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in men. The injuries that cause death include drowning, traumatic brain injuries, and accidents related to fireworks.
You can help prevent injury by taking simple precautions in your everyday life. For example, wear a seatbelt when you drive, or a helmet when you ride a bike.
Never drive impaired. Alcohol, drugs, and certain over-the-counter medications can seriously your ability to make decisions when you’re behind the wheel. Impaired driving also includes driving while overtired.
Many accidents happen at home. You can help prevent injuries by making sure your floors aren’t slippery, securing handrails on stairs, and using proper lighting for driveways and walkways.
Diabetes can lead to nerve and kidney damage if it goes untreated. It can also cause stroke, heart disease, and even lead to blindness. Men who have diabetes can often experience low testosterone levels or sexual dysfunction. Those conditions may contribute to increased depression or anxiety.
Type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or controlled. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help reduce your risk of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association encourages men to take the “modern man” challenge to “get out, get active, get informed!”
See your doctor if you have a family history of diabetes. Your health insurance may cover diabetes screening as part of regular checkups.
Pneumonia and the Flu
Influenza (flu) and pneumonia are two common health risks for men. Men with COPD, diabetes, cycle-cell anemia, cancer, or AIDS have compromised immune systems, and are more susceptible to these illnesses.
Men are 25 percent more likely to die from influenza and pneumonia than women. The American Lung Association recommends yearly vaccination to help prevent those diseases.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, men account for more than 66 percent of melanoma deaths. That’s more than two times the rate of women. White males over 50 years old made up 60 percent of all melanoma deaths.
AIDS and HIV
At first, HIV symptoms may mimic the flu or a common cold, so many men who have HIV may not realize it. According to the CDC, men account for 76 percent of HIV diagnoses.
The CDC also states that gay and bisexual men account for most new and existing infections, and that African-American men have the highest rate of new infection when compared to other ethnicities.
You can help prevent HIV by practicing safe sex and using clean needles.
Lifestyle Changes to Help Prevent the Most Common Men’s Health Problems
Many common men’s health issues can be prevented with healthy lifestyle choices including:
- Avoiding Tobacco: If you currently smoke or chew, you can dramatically reduce your risk of lung disease if you quit. If you need help quitting, your doctor may be able to help.
- Eating a Healthy Diet: Focus on lean protein sources such as fish and skinless chicken breasts, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Limit foods with high amounts of saturated fat and sodium such as fried foods.
- Being Active: Regular exercise can help you control obesity, lower your risk of heart disease, and prevent certain types of cancer. It doesn’t matter what you do, whether it be jogging or playing tennis. The important thing is that you enjoy your activity so you do it regularly.
- Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Obesity drastically increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Losing weight and staying at a healthy weight reduces those risks.
- Managing Stress: Your immune system may suffer if you’re always on edge or feel like you’re under pressure. Try to find healthy ways to deal with stress or reduce your stress level.
Take Advantage of Medicare Preventative Services
Many common men’s health issues become more likely as you age. Thankfully, for those eligible, Medicare includes many preventative health benefits.
For example, you can make a “Welcome to Medicare” appointment during your first year of coverage. The Welcome to Medicare exam documents your current health conditions and prescriptions so your doctor can assess your needs and make recommendations such as what vaccinations or cancer screenings you need.
After your first year, you can make Annual Wellness Visits every year to make sure you stay on track and to catch any new red flags.
Many of the most common men’s health problems can be prevented or treated if they’re diagnosed early including diabetes and melanoma, and regular checkups can be a key factor in stopping issues before they become severe.
Your Doctor Is a Valued Resource
Making healthy choices with your diet and lifestyle can help you live longer and happier. One of the best choices you can make is to receive regular checkups with your doctor. Instead of avoiding the doctor, look at your doctor as a valued resource. Talk to your doctor about what concerns you and follow your doctor’s recommendations for optimal health.