It’s commonly believed that men are less likely to seek help for health problems. According to Statista in April 2021, between 45% and 84% of men did not visit a doctor for injury, illness, or routine exams. But as men get older, the risk for certain diseases and conditions change. Some of the leading causes of death for men are heart disease, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and suicide, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2018. To help address some of these issues, below are five tips that men can do right now to help improve their health and well-being.
“Annual well visits are important because their purpose is to identify health issues before they become problematic. It is also an opportunity to receive important information regarding one’s overall health status,” said Carman H. Whiting, MD, family medicine specialist with UT Physicians and assistant professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston.
- Stay up to date on vaccinations – There are many recommended vaccines to help keep your immune system working optimally. Your doctor can help you identify which ones are needed, based on your age and lifestyle.
- Schedule preventive screenings – These include colorectal screening in males starting at age 45. For those with a first-degree relative (mother, father, sibling) with colorectal cancer before the age of 50, screening should begin at the age at least 10 years prior to that family member’s diagnosis. Other important screenings include those for diabetes, high cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight with measurement of body mass index. A prostate cancer screening should also be discussed. Recommendations on what age to begin prostate cancer screening varies. Regardless, a discussion about prostate cancer screening could begin between the ages of 45 and 50.
- Lower your stress – Men are less likely to disclose causes of stress with their doctor. This can result in major depression and anxiety going undiagnosed. Stress is also linked to higher blood pressure and weight gain, so it’s important to take time to unwind through activities that help you relieve stress.
- Eat healthier and exercise regularly – Highly processed foods like chips, fries, burgers, and pizza have high amounts of salt and sugar. Eating large amounts of these foods can lead to obesity, which can contribute to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and other chronic conditions. Foods that contain high fat and carbohydrates should only be consumed in moderation. Exercise goes a long way in helping your body and mind. Try to exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes, 3-4 times a week.
- Cut out alcohol and quit smoking – Excessive alcohol and smoking can lead to conditions such as liver disease, cirrhosis, and a wide variety of cancers. Talk to your doctor about available programs to help reduce your addiction.
“The annual physical examination with appropriate screening is one way to ensure chronic conditions or serious illnesses are diagnosed early, thus providing an opportunity for timely treatment resulting in better health outcomes,” said Whiting, medical director for UT Physicians Multispecialty – Sienna.
Having regular checkups and recommended screenings will help you catch problems early on and prevent the need for more intensive medical treatment in the future. Taking preventive care seriously is a great start to taking control of your health.
To schedule an appointment with one of our family medicine physicians, view our locations across Greater Houston.