You know June is the month for Father’s Day but did you know that it has also been designated as International Men’s Health Awareness Month? It’s true. All across the country, the spotlight will be focused on men’s health issues in health fairs, screening opportunities, and educational outreach events.
As men typically put their health on the back burner, coming up with one excuse or the other not to check out that nagging symptom, or get even a yearly check up, I always encourage my male patients to visit these community health fairs. They provide a no-pressure, casual opportunity to learn so much about their health from all different aspects and even get screened for several issues. And that’s the goal of Men’s Health Month – to develop awareness of the preventable health issues that impact men and boys specifically.
With men’s health in focus this month, I’d like to make you aware of a few key areas of men’s health concerns – the top 5 urgent male health issues.
Men’s Health: Do You Know Your Top 5 Risks?
As a man, the focus of your particular health issues will change throughout your life. When you’re a younger man, ages 20-35, your risks are higher for testicular cancer than when you’re 50-70 when your risks for prostate cancer, heart disease, diabetes are higher. So, with that in mind, I’d like to tell you about the 5 top health risks to men of all ages. They are issues/symptoms that should not be ignored.
1. Testicular Cancer. The risk is highest in younger men, aged 20-35 but also occurs in older men. Thousands of deaths per year worldwide occur from testicular cancer that could have been prevented had men paid closer attention to the early warning symptoms. A lump, or abnormality of feeling, in the testicles should be examined by your doctor. Many of these symptoms are not cancer, but could be situations that may develop into that later.
2. Moles. Changes in mole size, color, shape, bleeding can affect men of all ages – particularly if you’re outdoors in the sun a lot. If a long-standing mole starts to look different, becomes itchy, bleeds, you need to have it checked by a dermatologist. Cancerous, or precancerous, moles can be removed in total to prevent, or treat, cancer.
3. Depression. Many men typically think of “bad moods” as more of a woman’s thing and may write off their own low moods as nothing to be concerned about. What you may not know is that men have a higher risk of suicide from depression than women do. Low, poor, bad moods that persist should be brought to the attention of your doctor. The mood changes may be a warning light for another health condition – like diabetes or decreased hormones – that can be treated with medication and/or hormone replacement. Men tend to keep quiet about their feelings – this is one time they really need to speak up.
4. Urination problems. Starting to have trouble urinating can occur as early as late 40’s but typically is seen in men 55 and older. The prostate may begin to swell and put pressure on the bladder – causing frequent urination. It may also constrict the ureter making urination more difficult and pressured. Any urination problems that you start to experience should be brought to the attention of your doctor. This symptom could be a warning sign of prostate cancer and needs to be evaluated in a timely manner.
5. Impotence. Also usually affecting older men – ages 55 and older – impotence can occur from a decrease in testosterone that starts in andropause – male menopause. Every man experiences a bout of impotence here and there and can be caused by other things like fatigue, stress, or relationship issues, even obesity. Often times, adjustment to sleep schedules, stress reduction, exercise, and losing weight can have a positive effect on impotence. Chronic impotence, though, could be a warning sign of other, larger issues like prostate or colon cancer, heart disease or diabetes.
I think a great Father’s Day activity would be to take your father, your grandfather, your son, your brother, your uncle, for a guys-only outing to a local Men’s Health Fair. Look around in your community, likely you will find some agency putting on Men’s Health Awareness activities. You can get free, or very low cost screening, you can hear lectures on new treatments for prostate cancer, and you can talk to health care professionals about your specific questions. It really is a good month to learn all you can about your most important asset – your health.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News
Men’s Health Month http://www.menshealthmonth.org/
Five Urgent Male Issues, http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/men1839/Pages/Menshealthweek.aspx
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