Believe it or not, Dudes, Your Health Matters!!!

Dr Sue Mens Health Leave a Comment

June is Men’s Health Month, a nationally recognized and designated time to focus on encouraging men of all ages to pay attention to their physical and mental health. My addition to this very necessary awareness month is also spiritual health screening because when your spirit is ignored, your mind and body begin to feel the pain. Anyway, let’s get on with it.
 
As a family nurse practitioner, I care for males and females across the life span: newborns through elderly. My unofficial survey, based on daily interaction with patients, shows that most of the adult male patients I see rarely seek health care.
 
A typical response to the question “When was your last physical exam?” is “Well, let’s see, uh, well…I think it was 10 years ago when I nearly whacked my thumb off in a table saw accident….” or “Ummmm, let me think…oh yeah, I saw a doctor for my high school football physical when I was 17. That was a long time ago.”
 
All joking aside, statistics from a survey of the American Academy of Family Physicians showed “55% of men” hadn’t seen a health care provider for a physical exam in more than a year. Of these men, “40% of them had at least one chronic condition” (www.harvard.edu). Chronic conditions include things like high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, depression, alcohol abuse, tobacco dependence, and arthritis.
 
As humans, we often think “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,”so many times I don’t see patients for the first time for screening or preventative care. They primarily come in if they are sick or hurt, which makes sense. Remember the old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” No? Well, just take my word for it; it is an old saying. Anyway preventing illness is much better than treating it when it develops. Preventative care includes vaccinations, screening tests, and education on healthy lifestyle choices for example.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) collaborated and came up with a list of recommendations for men from age 20 to 60 and over to consider for disease prevention and screening. The recommendations are divided into age groups beginning with men in their 20s and 30s, then 40s and 50s, and finally 60s and over (www.consumerreports.org/men-s-health).
 
Young men, although presumably healthy, need health education and screening to look for potential health problems before a chronic disorder or acute illness develops. Recommendations on vaccinations for this age group include:
  • Influenza vaccine, yearly
  • Tetanus booster every 10 years or within five years of an cute or puncture wound
  • Whooping cough (Tdap booster)
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine; this is recommended for men and women up to age 26 as a cancer preventative.
In order to discover potential active disease or to prevent chronic health problems, men in their 20s and 30s should also be screened for the following:
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis C
  • High blood pressure; recommendations for a healthy blood pressure in this age group is around 120/80
  • High cholesterol; keeping cholesterol within normal range (below 200 total) helps prevent heart disease
  • Diabetes; high fasting blood sugar; normal fasting glucose is 65 to 99.
  • Substance use: tobacco, recreational drug, and alcohol use
  • Sexual behaviors
  • Diet, exercise
  • Testicular cancer; men need to do a testicular self exam monthly to check themselves for lumps, swelling, or pain in the testicles
  • Mental and spiritual health: depression, anxiety, stress, relationship conflict, etc. are important components of overall health that are often overlooked when health examinations are performed. Talk about these parts of your being…they do in fact comprise two thirds of who you are!
Middle aged, men, those in their 40s and 50s, need to consider the following vaccinations for preventing acute illness:
  • Influenza, yearly
  • Tetanus booster, every 10 years and every within five years of skin wound
Health screening for these men includes all of the same as men in their 20s and 30s with the following additional screening:
  • Colon cancer via colonoscopy beginning at age 50; if colonoscopy is negative, screening should be done every 10 years
  • Prostate cancerusing blood test (PSA)
Finally, men in their 60s and beyond should consider the same vaccinations as younger men with the addition of the following:
  • Shingles: age 60
  • Pneumonia: beginning at age 65, and the CDC advises two doses at least one year apart
Screening tests for men in their 60s and above are the same as those for younger men but include screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm with an abdominal ultrasound especially if there is any smoking history. Abdominal aortic aneurysms, which are weakened spots in the aorta, can rupture and cause death.
 
So there you have it: a condensed guide for adult men to take charge of their health and wellbeing! Sounds simple, right? Looks good on paper, no doubt, but what will you do with this information? It’s up to you. No one, not your wife, girlfriend, son, daughter, mom, dad, not even your nurse practitioner, can make you follow these recommendations.
 
It’s up to YOU; you have a choice, free will, and options to care for yourself or ignore your body, mind, and spirit until you get sick. God said you “are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Remember that, and know the He loves you!
 
Lifting up prayers for your health,
 
Dr. Sue
 
References:
1. Bible, NIV

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