For Men, Good Health Often Depends on Health Awareness and Early Screenings
By Carlos Gutierrez, M.D., Family Medicine, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – West Grand Parkway
June is Men’s Health Month – a perfect reminder for men to make wellness a priority.
Some statistics on men’s health are concerning. For example, life expectancy from birth for men in the U.S. is 76.2 years; for women, it’s 81.2 years. In addition, more than 40 percent of men aged 20 and over are obese and 13.2 percent of men aged 18 or over are in fair or poor health. Men are less likely to seek help for mental health problems, with women seeking mental health support 1.6 times more than men in a 12-month period across the United States. Men are also 1.8 times more likely to take their own lives compared to women.
These statistics may be worrisome for men and those who care about them, but many of the health risks men face can be avoided by adhering to a healthy lifestyle and getting recommended and timely preventive health screenings to catch and treat chronic conditions early.
Prioritize the following health actions to help improve your overall health:
- Do physical activity regularly to help control weight, reduce the risks of developing heart disease and some cancers, and improve overall mental health and mood.
- Improve nutrition by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, including whole-grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein, and limiting foods and drinks that are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation, which for men is two or less drinks per day.
- Manage chronic health conditions by following treatment plans. Work closely with your doctor to get a full understanding of your treatment plan, as well as the purpose and potential side effects of your prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and supplements that you may take.
- Address mental health concerns. For example, if you have mild symptoms that have lasted for less than two weeks, such as trouble sleeping or feeling down, engaging in self-care activities can be a good starting point to feel better. If symptoms are severe, persistent, or are worsening, talk to your healthcare provider. Symptoms may include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor appetite changes that may result in unwarranted weight changes
- Loss of interest in things that you usually find enjoyable
- Inability to perform normal responsibilities and daily functions or struggling to get out of bed in the morning due to mood.
If you or someone you know has thoughts about suicide or is in crisis, seek help right away. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room.
To talk with a trained counselor, you can call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.