November has a lot of things going on. It is the start of the holiday season, so there are often travel plans, meal plans, shopping plans. This is on top of all the normal day-to-day activities. When things get busy, the routine tasks we should be doing slip into the back of our minds. And the tasks we really don’t want to do or even think about? Well they all but disappear. However, the one thing that should not be ignored no matter how busy you are is your health, and the health of the ones you love. Due to this, and that November is also a time where men’s health is a focus, I wanted to do a special post to bring attention to the conditions we need to make sure the men in our life are monitoring.
Men and Their Health
Stereotypes and stigmas men face tell them they have to always be strong and stoic. They often avoid taking care of their health until it is a big problem. This applies to all the men in my life unfortunately. But you know what does motivate these men we love to take better care of themselves? Their love for us. They don’t want to hurt us by avoiding taking care of their health. That is enough motivation to overcome the stereotype often times.
The first step is that we all need to be knowledgeable about what the biggest problems men face are. If we don’t know, we cannot encourage them to get checked out. This post is meant to inform you of what those are and provide more information about the various concerns.
(Disclaimer: I am not medically trained. This article is solely to bring attention to common men’s health concerns. I have referenced information from Healthline.com and Heart.org. You can read the whole articles yourself for more information by using the links.)
7 Men’s Health Concerns That Shouldn’t Be Ignored
Heart health encompasses many aspects including blood pressure and cholesterol. These are often impacted by certain lifestyle choices like physical activity level, diet, and smoking. It is also important to know if his family has a history of heart disease. It is never too early to begin to routinely check on heart health. A simple visit to the doctor with some blood work once a year can make all the difference.
If there are any concerns, they can likely be improved with lifestyle changes if caught early. A doctor may recommend an altered diet or increased physical activity. Even if there are no current concerns, consider helping him adopt some heart healthy habits early. You can exercise together, cook healthy dinners, and work on ways to relax and reduce internalized stress.
If he has a pesky cough or trouble breathing, he should go see his doctor as soon as possible to rule out any serious respiratory diseases. These are often the first signs that something is not right. Rates of respiratory disease continue to increase. Though certain jobs and activities that have higher exposure to dangerous inhalants are also a risk factor, the biggest concern is still smoking.
If you know and love any men that smoke, encourage them to quit. As I am sure you know, smoking can cause all kinds of illnesses, including cancers and COPD. I know that it is very difficult to give up smoking. There are things that can help though. If you know someone who is willing to try to quit, tell them to speak with their doctor about options that may be right for them.
Type 2 diabetes is something that can sneak up on a person. Being overweight and having a family history increase the risks of developing the disease. If he has increased risk factors, it is important to get a blood glucose test. It is a simple test that can likely be performed at your doctor’s office. It is advised to be taken every three years.
Diabetes can have some very serious side effects. Identifying that he is high risk for the disease, or has prediabetes, can stop the disease from progressing. Big diet changes and losing extra weight are necessary. If he is considered overweight, introduce him to healthier alternatives for his favorite foods. There are all sorts of tasty, healthy options out there.
Signs of Skin Cancer
Death from skin cancer is more prevalent in men. Men are more often in jobs that expose them to the sun. Also, as discussed, men are less likely to go in to check on something they see as no big deal. Such as a mole that is an abnormal shape. Remind the men in your life that they should be regularly checking their skin, freckles, and moles to monitor any odd changes. Offer to look at anything they cannot see themselves. It is always better to be safe than sorry. If something does not look quite right, get it checked out. A doctor can determine whether a biopsy should be done or if a mole should be removed.
Prevention is key. Protective hats and clothing, as well as sunscreen, when he is planning to be outside could go a long way. Be sure to keep sunscreen handy and remind him to wear it. It is something that is so easy to forget until it is too late and the sun has already done irreversible damage.
Alcohol and Other Addictions
Excessive alcohol use has been linked to many medical concerns, including heart disease and liver disease. Alcohol use and abuse is more prevalent in men. Historically, it has been more socially acceptable for men to drink, especially drinking in excess. Men sometimes drink or use other substances as means to cope with stress or traumatic experiences.
If you know or suspect a man in your life is using alcohol or other substances to a dangerous level, consider having a talk with them. It is important to make sure they realize the extent of health consequences that come from alcohol and substance abuse. Some people do not realize how bad their problem is until someone brings it up. Encourage them to speak to their physician and seek professional treatment.
Men are more likely to take their own lives. Often times, men don’t talk about the depression they are feeling. They are aware of the stigma surrounding men about being strong and keeping it in. That if they cannot handle whatever is going on, then they are not as manly as the next guy. Men may not know how to reach out for help. But you can be the one to offer the help. If you have noticed signs of depression (or even if you haven’t, it does not hurt to ask) with a man you love, let them know that you are concerned and you want to help them.
You can always volunteer to go with them to talk to someone about how they are feeling. Make sure they know how much they mean to you and that you are there in whatever way they need. Remind them that going to a doctor or professional is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Cancers Related Specifically to Men
Prostate and testicular cancer are something that every man should be aware of. They should know the signs and if either run in their family. They should follow the recommended protocols for when to be checked and how often based on their risk factors. Women get their pap smears and mammograms, and it is openly discussed among their family and friends. This does not seem to happen with men. Men don’t talk about going in to be checked so it doesn’t seem like something other people are also going through.
As with all cancer, early detection is the most important thing you can do. Remind him to ask his doctor when he should begin having these routine checks. Remind him that even though it is not being discussed, other men are having the same experiences. Yes, it is uncomfortable. But uncomfortable is better than the alternative.
You are now aware of the important concerns that men face and should not be ignoring. Let the men you know have a read too so they can take action! The more you know, the more equipped you are to take charge of not only your health, but your whole family’s health.