We’re all guilty of putting our health and well-being on the back burner from time to time. However, men tend to delay medical care more than women. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than one in five men have not seen a health professional in over a year. In fact, this is one of the reasons the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that the life expectancy for men is five years shorter than that of a woman. To maintain good health, there are five common health issues all men should know about. These conditions include heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, high cholesterol, and lung cancer. Being knowledgeable about health risks and seeking treatment early are the best ways to keep a health issue from turning into a crisis.
This condition is one of the leading health risks among men today. The American Heart Association states that more than one in three men over the age of 18 have heart disease.
Heart disease includes:
- Heart failure
- Coronary artery disease
- Other heart-related issues
Even though there are several warning signs and symptoms of the condition, it is possible to develop heart disease without realizing it. The first signs may be very serious such as a heart attack or a stroke. Often, complications such as these result in permanent injuries.
It is essential to know the early signs of heart disease:
- Hard to catch your breath after moderate physical activities such as walking up the stairs.
- A heartbeat that is more irregular than usual. This includes faster, slower, and any other unusual patterns.
- Dizziness or fainting
- Chest pain
- Extreme fatigue
- Changes in your extremities including coldness, tingling, swelling, pain, and weakness
This condition develops when your blood sugar is too high. Glucose, another word for sugar, is what your body uses as an energy source. Your body produces insulin to assist in the conversion of glucose into energy. If your body does not create enough insulin, the glucose is unable to reach the cells to be used as an energy source. This results in diabetes. There are two main classifications of diabetes -Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed during childhood, but can still occur in adults. This is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when there is not enough insulin produced in the body. Treatment of this disorder involves using insulin to balance out the deficiency.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the cells are unable to use glucose for energy. When the blood sugar levels become too high over time, the cells become resistant to insulin. There are a variety of medication options to help treat Type 2 diabetes.
Warning signs of diabetes include:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight loss or gain
- Low testosterone levels (low-T)
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased sex drive and sexual dysfunction
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men. Cancer forms when abnormal cells in the prostate begin to grow. These cells continue to live and mutate while other cells die. The accumulation of abnormal cells can lead to the formation of a tumor that could invade nearby tissue. Parts of the tissue can also break off and spread to other body parts. If the cancer is caught early, especially if it is still only in the prostate gland, you have an increased chance of successful treatment.
There are several signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for to increase the chances of catching prostate cancer in the early stages:
- Trouble urinating
- Pain in your bones
- Erectile dysfunction
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Blood in semen
- Reduced force in the stream of urine
Cholesterol is a sticky, waxy substance created in the liver and other cells. This fat-like substance may also be found in foods like meat and eggs. Even though your body needs cholesterol to produce hormones, bile acids, and Vitamin D, it only requires a certain amount. Too much cholesterol may lead to health concerns like heart disease.
Men are at a higher risk for heart attacks, peripheral artery disease, and strokes if they develop high cholesterol. The danger starts around the age of 20 and increases with age. Genetics also play a huge role. If a direct family member has high cholesterol, your chances of developing it increase. To be sure of your cholesterol levels, doctors suggest everyone over 20 should get a cholesterol test at least every five years.
Every year, lung cancer is a leading killer of men and women. Luckily, the rate of new lung cancer cases has continued to drop since the 1980's. However, there are expected to be approximately 213,380 new cases this year.
The warning signs of early lung cancer include:
- Coughing. Specifically, a persistent cough that doesn't go away, evolves into a "smoker's cough," or a cough partnered with pain. Coughing up blood is also a symptom of lung cancer.
- Breathing difficulties including shortness of breath or wheezing.
- Loss of appetite or other change in appetite.
- Fatigue, especially feeling overly tired or weak.
- Recurring infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
If you're experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, they may be a sign of the advanced stages of lung cancer:
- Bone pain.
- Lumps or large bumps in neck or collarbone area.
- Nausea including dizziness, headaches, or limbs that become numb or weak.
- Swelling of the face, arms, or neck.
Overall, heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, high cholesterol, and lung cancer are five of the top health risks for men. These conditions can cause detrimental health issues if they are not caught early. By understanding these five health concerns, men can learn about the symptoms, what signs to be on the lookout for, and have a better chance at getting treatment while the disease is in its earlier stages.