The overall state of men’s health has long been called a silent health crisis in America. Men often neglect their health, leading to them living sicker and shorter lives than women. Men die at higher rates than women and are victims of more than 90% of workplace deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, men die almost five years earlier than women. 

June is designated as Men’s Health Month in order to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment for men. Heart disease, cancer, injuries, respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and diabetes are some of the leading causes of death for men. Many of these early deaths could be prevented with regular doctor’s visits, healthcare checkups/screenings, and more cautious behavior, such as less risk taking.

According to studies by the Commonwealth Fund and the CDC, men are less likely than women to have regular contact with a physician during the course of their lifetime and are half as likely as women to have a preventive health exam. This leads to men not receiving preventive care for potentially life-threating conditions that could perhaps be treated and/or cured if diagnosed earlier.

In order to live longer, healthier lives, men need to be sure to see their physician yearly, not just when they are not feeling well. Based on their age and family history, their physician can advise them which screening tests are important for them. Some of the most common screening tests men should be having are cholesterol tests, blood pressure checks, blood sugar checks,  prostate screenings, colorectal screenings, overall skin exams and testicular exams. In addition to doctor’s visits, men should be performing monthly testicular exams at home.

Men also need to do a better job of taking care of themselves in general. Maintaining a healthy weight is very important to overall health. Obesity can lead to many health risks and complications. Eating a proper diet and getting plenty of exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. A healthy diet and exercise is also a crucial factor in preventing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Being active and eating right can do wonders for cholesterol levels, stress and overall heart health. 

Men who smoke need to kick the habit. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men and is largely because of smoking. Smoking damages the cardiovascular system, immune system and overall body function. Limiting alcohol is also important. Alcohol affects every system in your body and when consumed in excess can lead to major health problems.

Stress is also a big contributor to the downfall of men’s health. Many men work in stressful jobs and take on the role as main provider for their family. Stress can increase blood pressure and depress the immune system. The body reacts by secreting toxic chemicals which can lead to depression. Controlling stress and depression is very important for men, with suicide being one of the top 10 causes of death among American men. 

Men also need to be more cautious when engaging in risky behaviors and situations. Use of a seatbelt at all times while driving, and use of protective equipment when engaging in sports or outdoor activities is also crucial. 

In honor of Men’s Health Month, Henry County Medical Center will be hosting a Facebook seminar on June 21 discussing men’s health. To view the seminar, watch it at noon on the HCMC Facebook page at facebook.com/hcmcparistn. For a list of all of the medical center’s seminars and screenings including “You’re the One in 2021” seminars, go to www.hcmc-tn.org.

 

LORI STAMBAUGH is the community nurse educator at Henry County Medical Center. A registered nurse, she has a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

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