June Is Men’s Health Month

Summertime is a time for sun-bathing and swimming, when many folks are trying to get their beach bodies ready for exposure. June brings us the longest day of the year and also marks a national time of awareness for men’s health. There are serious health conditions that only affect men, such as prostate cancer and low testosterone, as well as other serious health issues that men commonly suffer from, like colon cancer and heart disease.

The government-run Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends physical activity to stay healthy. A brisk walk, mowing the lawn, cycling or joining a team sport are good ways to get your blood pumping. If you have sedentary habits, it’s best to start slow and work up to at least a half hour daily of moderate physical activity.

Maintaining a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, lean meats and lots of fruits and vegetables is essential to maintaining a strong body and mind. Poultry and fish are tasty options for a leaner meat. Beans, eggs and nuts also have high levels of protein to keep your body energized throughout the day. Avoid saturated and trans fats, added sugars, excess salt and foods high in cholesterol. If you’re a guy who likes to enjoy a drink to relax, do not exceed more than 2 per day, and if you have specific medical conditions or are on medications, avoiding alcohol altogether is your best bet.

Adults need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep a night, or they are putting themselves at increased risk for such diseases and conditions as diabetes, obesity, depression and cardiovascular disease. A consistent regimen of daily vitamins is another vital part of maintaining good health.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, most men need to pay more attention to their health. Compared to women, men are more likely to smoke or drink, make risky or unhealthy lifestyle choices and put off regular medical care and routine checkups. Screening tests are an important part of preventative health care, because they look for signs of developing disease before you have active symptoms, so know which screenings you need and schedule accordingly. Simple screenings like blood pressure and cholesterol checks can be done in your doctor’s office. You can get some screenings, such as blood pressure readings, in your doctor’s office. Others, such as colonoscopy, a test for colon cancer, need special equipment, so you may need to go to a different office.

Some common diseases or conditions men might want to be tested for are the following:

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA): If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have smoked 100 or more cigarettes in your lifetime, look into being screened for AAA. AAA is a bulging in your abdominal aorta, your largest artery, that can burst, causing dangerous bleeding and death. The screening is painless and is done via ultrasound.

Colon Cancer: if you are 75 or younger, get a screening test, such as a stool test or colonoscopy, for colorectal cancer. If you are between 76 and 85, ask your healthcare provider about whether you should be screened.

Depression: Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Talk to your doctor if you have felt down, sad, or hopeless or had little interest or pleasure in activities.

Diabetes: Take a blood test to determine whether you have high blood sugar if you have high blood pressure (HBP) or take medication for HBP. Left untreated, diabetes can cause serious problems with your heart, brain, kidneys, nerves, eyes, feet and other body parts.

Other screenings you might need include checks for lung cancer, obesity, and if you have not been tested for them before, HIV and Hepatitis C.

Regular use of vitamin D, timely immunizations, and even an aspirin a day to prevent heart attack can go a long way toward helping you live to a ripe, old age and enjoy it. Check with your doctor to find out if these treatments and screenings are right for you.

For more information, you can visit the following sites:

Healthfinder.gov. Guides and tools for healthy living, an encyclopedia of health-related topics, health news, and more.

Healthy Men. An AHRQ Web site for on health for men.

MedlinePlus. Health information from government agencies and health organizations, including a medical encyclopedia and health tools.

U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health: Men’s Health Information.