Every time a new tech toy or app hits the market promising solutions to make life easier, less stressful, or more profitable, men (and women) scramble to upgrade their digital tool box. Most men keep a close eye on emerging trends and anxiously await the new cloud-enabled-digital-device release. Sadly, most men don’t pay as much attention to their physical health as they do to keep themselves digitally fit.
Studies show that women are three times more likely to seek medical care than their male counterparts – both for existing health conditions and preventative screenings. Men on the other hand, make excuses, resist making an appointment with their doctor and bury their heads in the sand hoping whatever ails them will resolve itself and disappear quickly never to be heard from again.
Women understand the importance of regular health screenings. Here are six things savvy women should share with their men.
1. Having a strong defense really is the best offense when it comes to health maintenance.
Loyola University of Chicago Stritch School of Medicine associate professor of Internal Medicine Timothy Vavra, DO admits that preventative care isn’t 100%, but he says early detection and minor lifestyle changes can prevent some conditions from escalating into more serious disorders that require dramatic lifestyle changes.
To help patients manage their health and avoid crisis management, Vavra recommends:
- Men establish a relationship with a primary doctor as a young adult to set a baseline for comparison throughout the lifecycle.
- Have their blood pressure checked annually beginning at age 18.
- Monitor blood glucose levels if familial history reveals risks associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
- Request cholesterol tests regularly between 20 and 35 if other cardiovascular risks are present; once every five years after age 35 if you’re otherwise healthy and screenings are normal.
- Screen for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. A colonoscopy is the preferred baseline. The procedure allows doctors to get a close up view of the entire colon, and remove any precancerous polyps seen during the exam. Unless new symptoms develop, men typically only need one colonoscopy every ten years. Other screening tests include an annual blood occult test to check for blood in the stool. A sigmoidoscopy (an examination that only checks the lower colon) is often recommended along with the occult blood test every five years.
2. Just because it only happened once doesn’t mean nothing is wrong.
When you buy the latest iPhone or upgrade to a new desktop, your first glance out of the box probably makes you smile, just imagining all the fun you’re going to have together. But, looks can be deceiving. Those shiny buttons and that scratch-free display don’t necessarily mean it’s going to function perfectly the first time you take it out for a test drive. If your new phone drops the first call you place, chances are you’ll drop everything to make a trip back to the store to find out exactly what is going on.
When it comes to facing early warning signs about health issues, men tend to have a wait and see attitude. This can be dangerous, more dangerous than downloading malicious malware or having a less than stable connection on the iPad. American Board of Urology diplomat Dr. Mark Sheldon points out the importance of making sure you see a physician at the first sign of hematuria – blood in the urine.
According to Dr. Sheldon, one drop of blood is ample reason to seek an evaluation. Just because you don’t see blood anymore, or the volume seems inconsequential, you can’t assume everything is fine. You may have an infection that is easily treated with a round of appropriate antibiotics, but “bad things” grow quietly, often with little or no outward signs of progression.
Whether you seek immediate attention at a low cost urgent care clinic, or schedule an appointment with your family physician, don’t ignore hematuria. Blood in the urine may indicate a kidney stone or minor infection, or things must worse, such as bladder or early stage prostate cancer.
3. Some preventative health maintenance tricks are actually pleasurable.
Okay, obviously no man looks forward to the turn-your-head-and-cough digital exam. And, news that you have an inflamed prostate, which requires a biopsy, ranks right up there with learning your job description was recently updated to include duties as a cattle prod test dummy. But, catching prostate cancer in the early stages, or making some lifestyle changes to prevent it from developing unchecked, is very important.
In an article for Men’s Health titled 8 Steps for Preventing Prostate Cancer, Matt Bean brings the subject into the light through a somewhat light-hearted lens. While he didn’t hold back on the grim stats – 221,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer last year and nearly 30,000 lost the battle – he points out that more sex (how does five times a week sound to you?) can reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer. Turns out even those solo engagements serve a positive purpose beyond just reducing tension and stress headaches. Ejaculation flushes out some carcinogens with seminal fluid.
4. Men get migraines, too. They just don’t recognize them.
And, if upping the frequency of your pleasure sessions doesn’t relieve those stress headaches, you might be suffering from migraines and not every-day-ordinary-headaches brought on by too little sleep, airborne particles or nutritional deficiencies.
Migraines are severe, debilitating headaches that often present with other symptoms such as:
- Sensitivity to light
- Disturbed vision
Although studies show that women are three times more likely than men (16% compared to 5% of the popular as reported by Migraine Trust) to experience migraines, research suggests men typically don’t seek treatment so, those numbers may be skewed. No causal correlation exists, but people who suffer from migraines have a higher incidence of the following conditions.
- Major depression
- Panic attacks
- Psychotic episodes/disorder
There are serious misconceptions among men that need to be addressed. For one, seeking medical attention isn’t a sign of weakness. Real men have serious health issues that lower their quality of life. Real men don’t ignore symptoms, hoping they’ll eventually disappear on their own. Real men take care of their health so they’ll be around for the real women in their lives – daughters, spouses, mothers.
Can you imagine how healthy you could be if you spent half as much time keeping your body in sync as you do keeping your digital devices connected, protected and optimized for performance?