Men’s Health Awareness Month: When Should You Get Check-Ups?
June is Men’s Health Awareness Month, and the week of June 14th – 20th, 2021 is designated Men’s Health Week. The purpose of Men’s Health Week is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys.
HealthCore Clinic is dedicated to men’s health in Wichita, KS by providing comprehensive screenings, exams, and treatment based on health risks for men. A regular men’s checkup looks at men’s health risks through screenings such as a prostate cancer screenings, heart disease screening, colorectal cancer screening, and more.
Men’s Health Is a Family Issue
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men in the United States, on average, die 5 years earlier than women and die at higher rates from the three leading causes of death:
- Heart Disease
- Unintentional Injuries.
Despite our nation’s vast advances in science, public health, and health care, the health status of racial and ethnic minority men continues to lag behind the general population.
“Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.”
Quote by Congressman Bill Richardson
(Congressional Record, H3905-H3906, May 24, 1994)
Alcohol Risks to Men’s Health
Men are more likely than women to drink alcohol excessively. Excessive alcohol drinking is associated with significant risks to men’s health and safety, and the risks increase with the amount of alcohol consumed. Men are also more likely than women to take other risks (such as misusing other substances, having multiple sex partners, or not wearing a seat belt). These risks, when combined with alcohol, further increase their risk of illness, injury or death.
- Men have higher rates of alcohol-related hospitalizations than women.
- Nearly 3 in 4 deaths from excessive drinking are among males, totaling about 68,000 deaths each year in the U.S.
- Among drivers in fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes, men are 50% more likely to have been intoxicated (i.e., a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater) compared with women.
- Excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression and may increase the risk of physically assaulting another person. Alcohol is a key risk factor for sexual violence perpetration.
- Males are more than three times as likely to die by suicide than females, and more likely to have been drinking prior to suicide.
- Alcohol use is one of the most important preventable risk factors for cancer. Alcohol use increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon, which are more common among men. Drinking alcohol also increases the risk of prostate cancer.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. The term heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions, including coronary artery disease and heart attack.
How Heart Disease Affects Men
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, killing 357,761 men in 2019—that’s about 1 in every 4 male deaths.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, including African Americans, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Hispanics, and whites. For Asian American or Pacific Islander men, heart disease is second only to cancer.
- About 1 in 13 (7.7%) white men and 1 in 14 (7.1%) black men have coronary heart disease. About 1 in 17 (5.9%) Hispanic men have coronary heart disease.
- Half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
Sometimes heart disease may be “silent” and not diagnosed until a man experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or arrhythmia. When these events happen, symptoms of heart disease may include:
- Heart attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
- Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).
- Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.
- Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.
Heart Disease Risks
What are your heart disease risks? In 2013–2016 47% of men had hypertension, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease. These conditions are:
- Overweight and obesity
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
How to Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
Getting a heart disease check up is your best bet to catch the disease early. To reduce your chances of getting heart disease or prevent heart disease, it’s important to do the following:
- Know your blood pressure. Having uncontrolled blood pressure can result in heart disease. High blood pressure has no symptoms so it’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
- Talk to your health care provider about whether you should be tested for diabetes. Having diabetes raises your risk of heart disease.
- Quit smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, learn ways to quit.
- Discuss checking your cholesterol and triglyceride levels with your health care provider.
- Eat healthy food. Having overweight or obesity raises your risk of heart disease.
- Limit alcohol intake to one drink a day.
- Lower your stress level and find healthy ways to cope with stress.
Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer death among men of all races and Hispanic origin populations.
Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When cancer starts in the prostate, it is called prostate cancer. Except for skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men. Many men with prostate cancer—especially those with tumors that have not spread beyond the prostate—die of other causes without ever having any symptoms from the cancer.
Who is at Risk for Prostate Cancer?
When should you get a prostate cancer check up? The prevalence of prostate cancer is higher than any other malignant cancers in men living in the United States. All men are at risk for prostate cancer. Out of every 100 American men, about 13 will get prostate cancer during their lifetime, and about 2 to 3 men will die from prostate cancer. The most common risk factor is age. The older a man is, the greater the chance of getting prostate cancer.
For some men, genetic factors may put them at higher risk of prostate cancer. You may have an increased risk of getting a type of prostate cancer caused by genetic changes that are inherited if—
- You have more than one first-degree relative (father, son, or brother) who had prostate cancer, including relatives in three generations on your mother’s or father’s side of the family.
- You were diagnosed with prostate cancer when you were 55 years old or younger.
- You were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and other members of your family have been diagnosed with breast, ovarian, or pancreatic cancer.
Some men are at increased risk for prostate cancer. You are at increased risk for getting or dying from prostate cancer if you are African-American or have a family history of prostate cancer.
- Are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men.
- Are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer than other men.
- Get prostate cancer at a younger age, tend to have more advanced disease when it is found, and tend to have a more severe type of prostate cancer than other men.
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages, however, a cancer that’s more advanced may cause signs and symptoms of prostate cancer such as:
- Trouble urinating
- Decreased force in the stream of urine
- Blood in the urine
- Blood in the semen
- Bone pain
- Losing weight without trying
- Erectile dysfunction
How to Reduce Risk of Prostate Cancer
Colorectal cancers such as prostate cancer are the second-leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States. But, in most cases, it can be prevented. Regular screening is the best way to catch colon cancer early. A colorectal cancer screening is important for early detection and prostate cancer prevention. The American Cancer Society recommends that average-risk adults age 50 years and older undergo regular screenings.
Doctors also recommend that men with an average risk of prostate cancer make choices that benefit their overall health, such as:
- Eating HealthyChoosing to eat a low fat diet, increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables and reducing the amount of dairy products.
- Maintaining a Healthy WeightKeep a body mass index under 30.
- ExerciseYou may also reduce the risk of other cancers by exercising and it can help you lose weight.
When Should Men Get Health Check Ups?
Historically, men have been hesitant to seek medical attention when something seems wrong with their health. Additionally, men aren’t as likely as women to have preventive screenings and checkups with their health care provider. This is a problem because early detection of a medical issue is the best way to improve effectiveness of condition treatment and management.
In addition, early Covid-19 research has found that more men are dying from Covid-19 than women, in part because men are more likely to have underlying health conditions. Delaying or avoiding a checkup or screening during the Covid-19 pandemic — or beyond — could lead to a treatable situation turning deadly. If you haven’t already, schedule your Covid-19 vaccine and speak with your provider about a health check-up.
Men older than 50 should have a yearly physical exam, and men younger than 50 should have a physical exam every three to five years. Even if you’re feeling healthy, a regular checkup with your provider is a good way to validate your health or identify a problem in its early stages.
What to Expect at a Men’s Health Check-up?
A Men’s Health Check-up will differ for each person based on your needs, age, and general health. Some of the screenings and tests that may take place during a Men’s Health Check-up are:
- General Health ExamA thorough physical exam where you can discuss health related topics with your doctor or medical provider.
- Blood Tests & UrinalysisScreens for various illnesses and diseases (such as cholesterol, diabetes, kidney or thyroid dysfunction) to catch them before symptoms occur.
- Heart Health ExamThis exam looks at the health of your heart and includes a blood pressure test, cholesterol test, and EKG (Electrocardiogram).
- Prostate Health ExamIf you are due for a prostate exam, your doctor or medical provider may recommend a digital rectal exam or a blood test.
- Reproductive Health ExamYour medical provider will perform a routine testicular exam. They may also suggest an STD test (sexually transmitted disease) or a chlamydia test.
- Colorectal Health ExamYour medical provider will perform a routine rectal exam. If you are due for a colorectal exam, your doctor or medical provider may recommend a fecal occult blood test, double contrast barium enema, or a colonoscopy.
- Eye & Ear Health ExamYour medical provider may perform a simple eye exam or hearing test. You may be referred to an eye or ear specialist for additional exams if needed.
- Skin Health ExamYour medical provider may perform a simple exam of your skin. You may be referred to a skin specialist (such as a dermatologist) or be scheduled for a TB skin test.
- Oral Health ExamYour medical provider, or a member of your dental team, will to a dental exam.
- X-Ray ExamsYour medical provider may perform a chest x-ray if you are a smoker over the age of 45.
- Mental Health ScreeningYour medical provider and a member of the behavioral health team will ask about your mental health and make recommendations as needed.
- ImmunizationsYour medical provider will suggest any immunizations that are needed such as annual flu shots, tetanus, etc. You may also get a Covid-19 vaccine at this time if you have not been vaccinated yet.
- Other ScreeningsYou may be screened for any abnormal lumps, have your bone health assessed, or have your testosterone levels tested. Speak with your medical provider about what is best for you at this time.
How to Schedule Men’s Health Check-Ups
Looking for men’s check up Wichita? Scheduling a Men’s Health Check-up is easy at HealthCore Clinic. You can call us at (316) 691-0249 or request an appointment using our online form. If you have specific things you want to discuss with your medical provider, please tell us in advance.