On average, men die almost six years earlier than women. Women are also more likely than men to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Men’s Health Month was created by a Congressional health education program to raise awareness of preventable health problems in men and encourage early detection and treatment of disease and injury among men and boys.
All adults should visit their health care provider from time to time, even if they are healthy. The purpose of these visits is to screen for diseases, assess risk of future medical problems, develop a healthy lifestyle, update vaccinations and to maintain a relationship with a doctor in case of an illness.
There are specific times when you should see your health care provider. For men, specific guidelines are as follows:
Blood pressure screening: Have your blood pressure checked every 2 years unless it is 120-139/80-89 Hg or higher; then have it checked every year. If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you should be monitored more closely.
Cholesterol screening and heart disease prevention: Men over age 34 should be checked every 5 years. If you have diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be monitored more closely. Some men should consider taking aspirin to prevent heart attacks.
Colon cancer screening: People between ages 50 and 75 should be screened for colorectal cancer. This may include a stool test done every year, flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years along with a stool occult blood test, or colonoscopy every 10 years. People with risk factors for colon cancer, such as ulcerative colitis, a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, or a history of large colorectal adenomas may need a colonoscopy more often.
Immunizations: You should receive a flu vaccine every year. Your doctor may recommend other vaccinations if you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes. You should have a tetanus-diphtheria booster vaccination every 10 years. If you have not received a tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine as one of your tetanus-diphtheria vaccines, you should have it once. You may get a shingles or herpes vaccination once after age 60.
Osteoporosis screening: All men ages 50 to 70 with risk factors for osteoporosis should discuss screening with their doctor. Risk factors include age, Caucasian race or of Asian descent, family history, small frame size, low calcium intake, eating disorder, weight loss surgery, sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption, and tobacco use. The use of certain medications and hormone levels, such as decreased testosterone, can also affect your risk.
Preventive health visit: Every 2 years until age 50, and then once a year. Should include: Checking height and weight, screening for alcohol and tobacco use, screening for depression and routine diagnostic tests as recommended.
Prostate cancer screening: Most men age 50 or older should discuss screening for prostate cancer with their health care provider. African-American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer should discuss screening at age 45. During screening, a PSA blood test may be done.
Dr. Gary Barrett is a board certified Internal Medicine physician. Dr. Barrett cares for patients at Barrett Internal Medicine, a McLeod Physician Associates practice located at 3109 Casey Street, Suite B, in Loris. To make an appointment with Dr. Barrett, please call (843) 756-8090.