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Men’s Health Month brings awareness to preventable problems

By Kathy Hubbard
“The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys,” states the Men’s Health Network’s website.
And, with that in mind, Dr. David Gremillion, a MHN contributor says, “There is a silent health crisis in America… it’s the fact that, on average, American men live sicker and die younger than American women. Men die at higher rates than women from the top ten causes of death and are victims of over 92 percent of workplace deaths.”
We’ve talked before about life expectancy. Females born in 2013 are projected to live 81.2 years while the baby in the blue blanket can expect to live 76.4 years. By the age of 100, women will outnumber men eight to one.
But, here’s the critical statistic: women are 100 percent more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. Believe it? It’s true. The Centers for Disease Control tells us so.
In an article in HealthDay written by Alan Mozes he says, “Macho men are less likely than women to visit a doctor, and more likely to request male physicians when they do make an appointment. But these ‘tough guys’ tend to downplay their symptoms in front of male doctors because of a perceived need to keep up a strong front when interacting with men, according to three recent studies.”
Since not all men can be classified as “macho,” what keeps a typical man from making an appointment for his annual physical? I’m going to bet on fear. If you browse through websites that cater to men’s health, they focus more on sexual activities, genitalia size and body building than they do on the most common health issues. If you’re more concerned with those issues, not to minimalize them (no pun intended), rather than taking care of symptoms that may be caused by a serious health issue, you’re probably scared.
“Yes! I had my first physical in three years,” a man wrote on a men’s health forum. “The Doc was actually impressed; generally people my age are on three blood pressure meds. My prostate is normal size, heart rate in the low 60s, oxygen absorption in the high 90s (percent), no lumps. I could lose twenty pounds, but I knew that. And, he told me to stay out of the sun. So, if you have not had a physical in a while, go get one.”
You won’t be surprised that I agree with that man. So, did other men on the forum who responded with, “Congratulations!”
Men are more likely to suffer from heart disease, cancer and strokes. They are twice as likely as women to suffer a serious injury. Undiagnosed depression contributes to the fact that men are four times more likely than women to commit suicide.
The New York Times magazine states that men suffer hearing loss at twice the rate of women and that testosterone is linked to elevations of LDL, the bad cholesterol, and declines in HDL, the good cholesterol. Plus they say that men have “fewer infection-fighting T-cells and are thought to have weaker immune systems than women.”
MHN suggests that men aged 20 to 39 should have a physical examination every three years, those aged 40 to 49 should have one every two years and those of you over 50 should see your primary care provider every year. They say that at these exams your PCP should “review your overall health status, perform a thorough physical exam and discuss health related topics.”
The exam will take around a half hour, give or take, depending on your PCP. He or she (depending on how macho you are) will check your blood pressure, height and weight for sure. What else will depend on your age and your health condition.
If you want more specifics, www.mensfitness.com has a good article called “Check-ups Every Guy Needs. Check it out. Then make that appointment. Go ahead, outlive us women!
Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at 264-4029 or kathyleehubbard@yahoo.com.

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