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What men need to know about wellness

men and wellnessKeeping men healthy can be challenging. According to Men's Health Network, men typically have poorer health habits and shorter life expectancies than women. They are also more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, make risky health choices and avoid regular check-ups.

Risky choices can include such things as not wearing a seat belt, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and working in a hazardous occupation, such as firefighting or construction.

And by avoiding check-ups, men may miss out on good preventative advice. While some male health issues are sensitive to discuss, conversations with a primary care physician are essential. We encourage men to discuss the following health topics with their doctor.

Self-exams

Men should practice these self-examinations each month:

  • Testicles. An unusual lump may indicate testicular cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in men ages 18-35. Other symptoms to watch for include: feeling a heaviness in the scrotum, pain or discomfort in the testicle and abdominal aches.
  • Skin. Changing moles, freckles or unusual spots on the skin may indicate skin cancer. When detected early, skin cancer is easily treated. Men should pay particular attention to the top of the head and ears.
  • Oral. Report unusual lesions in the mouth to your physician. Men who smoke or use smokeless tobacco should be especially aware of their oral health.
  • Breast. One in every 100 breast cancer patients is male. Report any abnormal lump or thickness in the breast to your doctor. Additionally, skin dimpling, nipple retraction, red or scaly nipples or any nipple discharge could also indicate breast cancer.

ED and Low-T

Erectile dysfunction (ED) and low testosterone can occur naturally with age, and other health considerations may be related.

Men with ED have trouble achieving an erection for sexual satisfaction. More than 30 million men suffer from chronic ED, with 70 percent affected as a result of other health issues. These include diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or medications.

Low testosterone levels can cause fatigue, osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass, diminished sex drive, increased body fat and facial hair production. An estimated six million men suffer from low testosterone. The good news – it's easily treatable with hormone therapy.

General good advice

To maintain good overall health, men should also do the following:

  • Get a chest X-ray if you smoke. Smokers over age 45 should get a chest X-ray to rule out lung cancer.
  • Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Get a tetanus booster every 10 years.
  • Follow age guidelines for colon, rectal and prostate cancer screenings.
  • Get a complete physical as recommended for your age.

Many major health risks and causes of death for men are preventable with early diagnosis and treatment. By being proactive and practicing healthy habits, men may be able to live a longer, more productive life.