Men are notorious for avoiding the doctor and stubbornly ignoring unusual symptoms or physical changes until their first health scare, usually in their 50s.
But guys can take many simple steps to get healthy and stay healthy.
As June is Men’s Health Month, we’d like to share our top 5 exams that guys should get each year.
Annual Physical Exam
Prevention is the best medicine, and there’s no better way to monitor your health than a yearly checkup. During the checkup, your doctor will monitor your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol level in your blood. By tracking these numbers year after year, you and your doctor can keep an eye on excessive fluctuation in your weight, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol—all risk factors for cardiovascular disease. (In fact, stop reading and schedule your annual physical.)
Blood Sugar Exam
Increased blood sugar can lead to diabetes, which significantly increases your risk of heart disease and other complications such as kidney damage and erectile dysfunction due to nerve damage. Increased blood sugar can be lowered with changes in diet and exercise and oral medicines and/or insulin.
Skin Cancer Exam
When you mow the lawn or play a round of golf, do you put on sunscreen? Probably not. Men with a family history of skin cancer or significant sunburns when they were younger are at high risk for skin cancer. But skin health doesn’t stop there. Changes in moles or birthmarks can also indicate potential skin cancers. Apply sunscreen, protect your face and head with a hat, and get suspicious changes checked out.
One in eight men will develop prostate cancer. Other than skin cancer, it’s the most common form of cancer in American men. Maintaining prostate health is important for men of all ages, but it’s even more essential as you get older and the risk increases for complications like incontinence, sexual dysfunction, and prostate cancer.
The prostate-specific antigen, PSA blood level test, and digital rectal exams (DREs) are the best way to detect prostate cancer. All men should have an annual PSA test beginning at age 50. If a man has a family history of prostate cancer on either side of the family, testing should begin at age 40.
Your thyroid helps every cell in your body by releasing hormones that regulate metabolism. Any changes in the hormones it produces can impact a man’s life and cause weight gain, lethargy, exhaustion, or fatigue. A blood test called your doctor can do a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test to check your thyroid’s function. If testing shows abnormalities, they can usually be fixed through medication.
And every three to 10 years: Colonoscopy
A colonoscopy is no big deal, but it can help detect colon cancer. Your risk of developing colon cancer also includes your family history, a history of inflammatory bowel disease, or a diet high in animal fat. Routine exams should start at age 50, and future tests should be done every three to 10 years, based on results.
Live a Healthier Lifestyle
Although June is Men’s Health Month, guys should try to live a healthier lifestyle all year long.
- Exercise three to four times every week for 30 to 45 minutes as recommended by the American Heart Association. Include a mix of cardiovascular exercise and weight training.
- Eat a balanced diet low in fat and includes a mix of vegetables, fruit, protein, fiber, lean meats, and complex carbohydrates, limiting processed foods and added sugars.
- Water will help keep you hydrated.
- Don’t smoke. Ninety percent of lung cancer diagnoses are in people who smoke. If you do smoke, stop.
- Avoid excessive alcohol
- Sleep at least seven hours per night at the very least.
- Look after your mental health, too. Men can experience depression, stress, and anxiety, and “toughing it out” is not an appropriate coping skill. Talk to a mental health professional.
- Relax! Read a book, meditate, practice yoga, or take the dog for a nice quiet walk.
Complete Health Partners is here for you, whether you’re scheduling an annual physical, need sports medicine or telemedicine, or have a medical condition that needs urgent attention. Book an appointment in West Nashville, Downtown or Hendersonville today.
Nashville Area Primary Care
6749 Charlotte Pike, Nashville, TN 37209
9am – 7pm, 7 days a week
301 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37201
8am – 4pm, Monday – Friday
166 E Main Street, Hendersonville, TN 37075
9am – 7pm, 7 days a week