We’re celebrating Men’s Health Month and Men’s Health Week on the AUI blog. Establishing and maintaining good health is an ongoing process that you need to take charge of. It is important that you are proactive in managing your health to avoid preventable illnesses and catch other medical conditions early.
Get the Screenings You Need
Screenings are tests that look for diseases before you have symptoms. Examples include blood pressure checks and tests for high cholesterol. You can get some screenings, such as blood pressure readings, in your doctor’s office. Others, such as a colonoscopy, will require you to visit a specialist or hospital.
After a screening, ask when you will see results and who you should talk to about them. Here are common screenings you should consider:
Abdominal aortic aneurysm. If you are between the ages of 65 and 75 and have ever been a smoker, talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). AAA is a bulging in your abdominal aorta, the largest artery in your body. An AAA may burst, which can cause dangerous bleeding and death.
Colorectal cancer. Have a screening test for colorectal cancer starting at age 50 (or earlier if you have a family history of colorectal cancer). Several different tests can detect this cancer. Talk to your doctor to decide which is best for you.
Depression. Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. Talk to your doctor or nurse about being screened for depression, particularly if recently:
- You have felt down, sad or hopeless.
- You have little interest or pleasure in doing things you once enjoyed.
Diabetes. Get screened for diabetes if you blood pressure is higher than 135/80 or if you take medication for high blood pressure. Diabetes (high blood sugar) can cause problems with your heart, brain, eyes, feet, kidneys, nerves and other body parts.
High blood pressure. Starting at age 18, have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, and can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney and eye problems, and heart failure.
High cholesterol. If you are 35 or older, have your cholesterol checked. High cholesterol increases your chance of heart disease, stroke and poor circulation. Have it checked starting at age 20 if any of the following apply:
- You use tobacco.
- You are obese.
- You have diabetes or high blood pressure.
- You have a personal history of heart attack or blocked arteries.
- A man in your family had a heart attack before age 50 or a woman before age 60.
HIV. Talk with your health care team about HIV screening if any of these apply to you:
- You have had unprotected sex with multiple partners.
- You use or have used injection drugs.
- You have or had a sex partner who is HIV-infected or injects drugs.
- You are being treated for a sexually transmitted disease.
- You had a blood transfusion between 1978 and 1985.
Lung cancer. If you are between the ages of 55 and 80 or have a history of smoking, check with your doctor about getting screened for lung cancer.
Overweight and obesity. The best way to learn if you are overweight or obese is to find your body mass index (BMI). You can find your BMI by entering your height and weight into a BMI calculator, such as the one available at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm.
Take Preventive Medicines if You Need Them
Aspirin. If you are 45 or older, ask your doctor if you should take aspirin to prevent heart disease.
- Get a flu shot every year.
- If you are 60 or older, get a shot to prevent shingles.
- If you are 65 or older, get a pneumonia shot.
- Get a shot for tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, and follow up with a tetanus booster if it has been more than 10 years since your last shot.
- Talk with your doctor or nurse about whether you need vaccinations. You can also find which ones you need here: cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/easy-to-read/adult.html.
Take Steps to Good Health
- Be physically active and make health food choices. Learn how at healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/everyday-healthy-living.
- Get to a healthy weight and stay there. Balance the calories you take in from food and drink with the calories you burn off by your activities.
- Be tobacco free. For tips on how to quit, go to gov. To talk to someone about quitting, call your state quitline: 800-QUITNOW (784-8669).
- If you drink alcohol, have no more than two drinks per day if you are 65 or younger. If you are older than 65, have no more than one drink a day.
- A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
You know your body better than anyone else. Always tell your doctor or nurse about changes in your health, including your vision and hearing. Ask them about being checked for any condition you are concerned about (such as prostate or skin cancer), not just the ones listed here.
Source: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality