- - Friday, June 19, 2015

I love how every month is marked with special dates holding treasured memories, special celebrations, notable recognitions – and precious gatherings. The month of June recognizes the men in our lives with National Men’s Health Month and, too, Father’s Day.

As we recognize the special contribution that fathers, grandfathers, father figures and other gifted men make to our lives and our family’s lives … please know, you have the power to influence the boys and men in your life to make a lasting effort that will help them to live healthier lives for the generations to come.

According to a recent report I read, women are 100 percent more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive service than men. That’s a staggering statistic!! By recognizing this fact, we can make a difference by encouraging those special men in our lives to go to the doctors for regular check-ups and health screenings.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know: About Health Screening Exams for Men of All Ages:

Physical Exam An annual physical exam is not just about improving health, it also allows the opportunity to foster a doctor-patient relationship, check on a patient’s mental status, identify risk factors for chronic disease, and discuss proven preventative measures and screening exams. Some experts have recommended that for healthy, non-smoking adult males, physical examination can be performed every five years between the ages of 18 to 40 and every 1 to 3 years thereafter. Because every patient is different, it is best to discuss this with your physician.

Electrocardiogram (EKG) This study is a non-invasive test that measures our heart’s electrical activity and can provide invaluable information about a heart problem, such as heart disease, heart attacks, or abnormal rhythms. Most experts recommend having an EKG performed when healthy, so that it can be used as a baseline to compare to in the event that something goes wrong down the road. Discuss with your healthcare provider how often it should be repeated.

Colon Cancer Screening Regular colonoscopy screenings in people without risk factors should begin at age 50 (and age 45 in African Americans). If risk factors are present, discuss with your doctor if you should begin screening at an earlier age. Risk factors include: a personal history of colon cancer or polyps, a personal history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, a family history of colon cancer or polyps, or certain hereditary polyp syndromes.

Depression Men experience depression at a similar rate to women: approximately 16-33 percent. However, they are less likely to seek help and treatment. This may be because men are uncomfortable with divulging their symptoms to their doctor or that their symptoms manifest as anger, irritability, and aggression as opposed to outward sadness.

Diabetes The long term effects of diabetes include stroke, heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy (difficulty with sensation), and poor healing of wounds. Early diagnosis, management, and treatment can stave off the majority of these issues. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that adults age 45 and older get screened for type 2 diabetes every three years by their health care provider. Those with risk factors should be screened more frequently.

Blood Pressure Increased blood pressure can elevate your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage. Early detection allows for lifestyle changes and medications that can decrease disease burden. And, symptoms of increased blood pressure are usually not obvious, until the damage has been done. Have your blood pressure checked at least every 2 years, and more often if your healthcare provider suggests.

Lung Cancer Screening It is recommended that annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed (LDCT) should be performed in those 55-80 years who have a 30-pack year smoking history (number of cigarette packs multiplied by years) AND currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.

Immunizations It is recommended to get a seasonal flu shot every year; if aged 60 or older, a shingles shot; if aged 65 or older, a pneumonia shot; and a tetanus booster every 10 years.

Prostate Men over the age of 40 years should discuss prostate cancer screening with their doctors. There is much debate about the recommendations for prostate exams and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels and your doctor will help assess an appropriate course of action based on your risk factors.

Dental Exam Gum disease and oral infection can trigger inflammation throughout the body and increase the risk of clot formation that can also block blood flow. Yearly dental exams and cleanings can help keep our oral health in tip-top shape.

Eye Exam Many vision problems (e.g., near-sightedness, far-sightedness) and eye diseases (glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration) have no obvious symptoms. Early detection of these conditions is possible with routine exams. And it can facilitate early intervention that will help maintain good vision, eye health, and possibly prevent vision loss. Experts recommend that eye exams should be performed every 2 years until the age of 60. It is recommended that at age 61, exams should be performed yearly.

Oh, those men who have a special gift for touching our lives in remarkable ways … (warm, respectful smile) — let’s be especially creative in our connection with our men – and keep a watchful eye and speak up about the importance of their health, to us!!

While there are a lot of awesome gifts from new hi-tech health wearables to great walking shoes, perhaps scheduling time to take more walks with them or play a stimulating card or board game, or offering to make (and accompany them) to see their doctors (or find a good one for them). Exercising your power to connect with them on this important subject will help to change the statistic – and may be just “the” right gift to warm their hearts and help keep that charming flinty glint of theirs healthy for generations to come! Special blessings to the men in our lives.

This article is for general information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions and cannot substitute for the advice from your medical professional. Dr. Nina has used all reasonable care in compiling the current information but it may not apply to you and your symptoms. Always consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.

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