No one likes to spend time in a doctor’s office, especially when there seems to be nothing wrong in the first place. Men are particularly hesitant to maintain a handle on their health status as they age if there are no signs or symptoms of an underlying issue, given the societal pressure to put on a strong front to others. However, getting regular health screenings is an essential part of being a healthy, male adult, as certain tests are the first line of defense against debilitating medical conditions. Taking care of your health starts with understanding these common screenings and how they are used to identify any health issues that may deteriorate your quality of life as you get older if they remain undiagnosed and untreated.
Stepping on the Scale
Everyone knows that maintaining a healthy body weight is important to one’s overall health over the years, but it can be a challenge to know what constitutes a proper weight and what number may be cause for concern. Men can start by understanding their body mass index, or BMI, which measures body fat based on a person’s height and weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares that an adult body mass index that falls between 18.5 and 25 is considered normal, while a higher BMI may indicate an unhealthy weight. Checking BMI can be done easily either with a medical professional at a routine check-up or by using an online BMI calculator at home.
Another important screening men should have as they age is a check of cholesterol. Starting at the age of 20, it is recommended that men screen for high cholesterol every five years, especially if risk factors that could lead to other health conditions are present, including diabetes, a high BMI, smoking, or a family history of stroke. Screening for cholesterol is done through a brief blood draw at the doctor’s office, and the results indicate the levels of good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), and triglycerides. For reference, total cholesterol should be below 200 milligrams per deciliters, or mg/dL.
Understanding Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a common medical issue among men and women alike, and without proper diagnosis and treatment early on, it can lead to more serious health conditions later in life. Screening for blood pressure is typically done during routine doctor’s visits, but it should be checked at least every two years for adult males. Blood pressure that is normal is below 120/80 mm Hg; any adult male with blood pressure above this mark consistently may require medication or lifestyle changes to keep it within the normal range moving forward.
Among adult men in the UK, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer, with more than 41,000 cases diagnosed each year and nearly 11,000 deaths. While the medical condition is often slow-growing, there is no way to know how much the cancer has progressed or its trajectory without proper screening. In recent years, however, the necessity of prostate cancer screenings has come under fire. A representative from a leading clinical negligence law firm shared that a recent study of men in the UK revealed that test results often provide an incorrect diagnosis initially for newly two-thirds of patients. Incorrect diagnosis of prostate cancer can be devastating for men and their families, and a call for better testing has been widely pursued. For now, screenings for prostate cancer are important to have done as men age, and a follow up with the doctor when a diagnosis is initially made is imperative to planning the right course of treatment early on.
Mental Health Concerns
A less common screening adult males may want to put on their radar is related to the signs and symptoms of depression. Throughout the world, millions of adults struggle with mental health issues like depression silently, fearing backlash from loved ones or doubt in how a certain course of treatment may help ease the condition. It is important for men to speak to their doctor about any signs of mental health issues, including feelings of hopelessness, disinterest in social or family activities, or an inability to function due to feelings of dread or anxiety. A doctor is able to ask a few simple questions relating to mental health and depression during a routine check-up, and help men determine what treatment options are available.
Men’s health has become a more common topic of discussion among medical professionals and individuals alike, but it can be difficult to know where to start to ensure your health is optimal. These few screenings can make all the difference in identifying a medical condition early in its progression and starting the treatment most appropriate for leading a healthy, high-quality life.