Man up: Take control of your health this month

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Did you know that June is Men’s Health Month? If you are a man, you have most likely seen a doctor out of necessity, but when confronted with specific questions about men’s health, you may have some shortcomings. In searching the wisdom of the Internet on men’s health, it turns out that men are pretty special when it comes to taking health risks.

In fact, men are more likely than women to smoke and drink, make unhealthy or risky choices, and put off regular check-ups or seek medical care. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, men are 24 percent less likely than women to have seen a doctor in the past year.

Overall, the evidence indicates that men ought to pay more attention to their health and well-being. But what are the real reasons that men do not seek medical care?

Web MD cited a number of possible reasons men avoid medical care. Among them were “stoicism, high cost, busy schedules, the challenge of getting an appointment, or the embarrassing possibility of the digital rectal exam.”

There, you have it. To the relief of many men, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force rejected the idea that the standard annual physical exam is an effective tool for improving the health of patients. They suggest that
exams needed to be tailored to the age, health risks and preferences of the patient.

So, what should men do to maintain good health? It turns out that it’s really quite simple. Most experts agree that in addition to not smoking, men should be physically active, know their body, eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, manage stress, sleep well and drink alcohol only in moderation.

Note that these measures also enhance mental and spiritual wellness, which is important since men have higher suicide rates than women. In addition, it is important to partner with a physician to choose a preventive health care program suited to a person’s special needs.

Many of the major health risks that men face, such as colon cancer or heart disease, can be prevented. They also are easier to treat when found early. To ensure your body continues to be fit and ready, eat healthfully, sleep well, be physically active and follow the preventive schedule below.

• Regular blood pressure screenings.
• Cholesterol screenings for all men 35 and up, or 20 and up if there are other risk factors.
• Colorectal cancer screening age 50 and up.
• Tetanus booster every 10 years for men over 50.
• Flu shots every year for men over 50.
• Prostate cancer screenings based on individual factors.
• Diabetes screenings for adults who have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
• Monthly self exam for irregular moles with annual visit to a dermatologist for complete exam.
• The American Cancer Society recommends annual cancer screenings with a testicular exam.
For more information about men’s health, visit the National Institutes of Health website at http://health.nih.gov/category/MensHealth.

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