By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Men’s health encompasses everything from physical, mental and social aspects.
Health challenges can include chronic conditions to acute illnesses. Men are also at risk of suffering from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression and anxiety. These risks range from lifestyle choices such as poor diet, stress and lack of exercise to biological and genetic factors.
“Traditionally men have been much more likely to neglect their health when compared to women,” said Andrew Rogall, a primary care physician at Oswego Health’s Fulton PrimeCare. “This is one factor that contributes to men having a much higher rate of overall disease and illness in their lifetime, as well as a life expectancy that is five years shorter than the average American woman.” Rogall added.
One of the most overall common myths that patients tell their physician is that they feel healthy so there is no need to see a doctor. However, there is a clear distinction between feeling well and being healthy.
”Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men each year. Two major risk factors for heart attack are high blood pressure and high cholesterol which for most are completely asymptomatic,” said Rogall. “Simply feeling well does not mean these things are not happening in the background until they suddenly present with chest pain and a heart attack. These are also great examples of things that are easy to diagnose and treat when we see people in the office regularly.”
2. Male ailments
Men are assailed by diseases that can affect anyone — heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, depression. But they also have unique issues.
”Well, there is the obvious elephant in the room and that is prostate cancer, which happens exclusively in men,” said Rogall. “Additionally, heart disease, smoking, alcoholism, high blood pressure and cancers are some of the many conditions that are more commonly seen in men.”
3. Risk factors
Several risk factors increase the chances of developing health problems. Twelve percent of men age 18 and older are in fair or poor health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, more than 50% of men older than 20 have hypertension.
“Fortunately, many of these diseases are preventable with regular office visits and routine screening,” he said.
4. See a physician
All men should have a yearly wellness visit to screen for potential health problems. Bloodwork to check cholesterol levels and screen for diabetes is important.
“In smokers, it may be beneficial to screen for lung cancer and aneurysms, which is something we only do in men that have smoked,” he said. “We will discuss screening for prostate cancer which we may or may not do based on the individual.”
Rogall sees a combination of reasons why men hesitate booking regular visits. Some deal with the ego of manhood where seeing a physician is shown as a sign of weakness.
“Men are still much less likely to talk about their health and much more likely to downplay their symptoms,” he said. “They prioritize work and essentially anything else over self-care. Unless we have a cold, then you’re not going to hear about it.”
5. Early detection
Early detection is one of the greatest tools we have to prevent severe illness and death. By screening regularly, physicians can decrease the extent and severity of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancers.
“In many cases, we may detect some of these early enough to reverse the course or prevent them from happening in the first place. It’s easier to blow out a candle than it is to put out a house fire,” Rogall said.
Health experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have made recommendations, based on scientific evidence about various ailments. Talk to your doctor about prostate health, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, colorectal cancer, diabetes, depression, sexually transmitted diseases and other screenings.
Top image: Andrew Rogall, a primary care physician at Oswego Health’s Fulton PrimeCare. “Traditionally men have been much more likely to neglect their health,” he says.