The top health issues that affect men
Pardee UNC Health Care
Many men ignore their health until it becomes a problem. Unfortunately, waiting to see a doctor until you have a health issue can be potentially dangerous. Keep reading to learn how often you should see a health care provider and what issues to watch for at every age.
How often men should go to the doctor
It’s essential to see your doctor even if you feel healthy. Regular wellness visits, or checkups, are a vital part of staying healthy and active for life. They’re also a great way to develop a relationship with your healthcare provider, resulting in personalized care as you age.
During these visits, your provider can address questions you have and catch health issues early when they’re most treatable. For example, if you have high blood pressure, sleep apnea or erectile dysfunction, this could be a warning sign that you’re at risk for heart disease. Your physician can recommend lifestyle changes or medication to address the issue and prevent heart problems later in life.
This is also a good time to discuss any activities you enjoy, such as hiking, cycling or sports, and how to maintain an active lifestyle as you get older.
Know that your primary care provider is a professional who’s there to help and has heard it all before. There’s no need to feel embarrassed if you have questions or concerns about your health.
Men’s health at every age
At your annual wellness visit, your provider will also evaluate or discuss your heart health (assessing your cholesterol, blood pressure and family history of heart disease), mental health (such as depression, substance abuse or risk-taking behaviors), and weight. They may also recommend vaccines, such as a tetanus and diphtheria booster, flu shot or shingles vaccine. If you need help quitting smoking, your primary care provider can offer resources to help.
They may also address the following based on your age:
In your 20s:
Your doctor may talk to you about stress management, testing for sexually transmitted infections and maintaining a healthy weight. While testicular cancer is rare, it’s most common in men ages 20 to 39. If you notice any pain, lumps or swelling in your testicles or groin, talk to your doctor.
In your 30s:
Your provider may discuss your heart health and potential risk factors, helping you make lifestyle choices that protect your long-term health. This is also an excellent time to discuss stress management and mental health, particularly as many people in their 30s are juggling careers and raising families.
In your 40s:
Your doctor will continue to evaluate your risk factors for heart disease. Some men begin to experience erectile dysfunction in their 40s, so now is a good time to bring it up if you notice any symptoms. If you’re African American or have a close family member who had colon cancer, your doctor may recommend colon cancer screening at age 40. For everyone else, new guidelines suggest that colon cancer screening should begin at age 45.
In your 50s and 60s:
Your provider will continue to evaluate you for heart disease and cancer risk factors. They may discuss prostate cancer screening. You should continue colon cancer screening as suggested by your provider. If you’re a current or former smoker, ask about a lung cancer screening. Your provider may also screen you for diabetes and talk to you about maintaining a healthy weight.
In your 70s and beyond:
Your doctor will continue to screen you for heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and prostate cancer. Now is also a good time to talk to your doctor about maintaining your sexual health as you age. Your provider should also assess your mental health since older adults are at higher risk of depression and discuss staying active with an age-appropriate exercise routine.
To find a provider near you, visit www.pardeehospital.org.
Dr. Shea is a board-certified family medicine physician at Pardee Medical Associates Brevard.