Let’s face it: Men aren’t always the best at following directions, especially when it comes to caring for their own health. June marks Men’s Health Month, the perfect time to take stock in your wellbeing.
Even if you’re feeling healthy, you should visit your health care provider annually. These visits can help you avoid problems in the future. For example, the only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly. High blood sugar and high cholesterol levels also may not have any symptoms in the early stages. Simple blood tests can check for these conditions. After all, if you have that classic ’67 Mustang in the garage that you would like to take for a spin every once in a while, it’s a good idea to peek under the hood for a regular inspection.
The following health screenings are recommended for men ages 40 to 64, and will help to keep you on the path to optimal health.
1. Blood pressure screening
Have your blood pressure checked once a year. Updated blood pressure guidelines are categorized as normal ranging from less than 120/80 mm Hg; and elevated as systolic between 120-129 and/or diastolic greater than 80. Some ways to keep your blood pressure at reasonable levels is to participate in regular physical activity and limit your dietary intake of foods with a lot of salt such as chips and cold cuts. However, if your blood pressure seems higher in the doctor’s office, you may consider investing in a blood pressure cuff to use at home.
2. Cholesterol screening and heart disease prevention
Your cholesterol should be checked every five years. If you have a high cholesterol level, diabetes, heart disease, kidney problems, or certain other conditions, you may need to be checked more often. Again, proper diet and regular exercise are helpful in keeping your cholesterol levels in check.
3. Diabetes screening
If you are age 45 or older, you should be screened every three years. If you are overweight or have a blood pressure greater than 135/80, ask your provider if you should be screened at a younger age. Limiting your dietary intake of simple sugars and refined carbohydrates, such as table sugar, white bread and anything made with white flour, are useful measures to control your blood sugar.
4. Colon cancer screening
If you are under age 50, you should be screened if you have a strong family history of colon cancer or polyps. Screening may also be considered if you have risk factors such as a history of inflammatory bowel disease or polyps. If you are between ages 50 to 75, you should also be screened for colorectal cancer. There are several methods for colorectal cancer screening, so you should discuss the best option for you with your health care provider.
5. Dental exam
In addition to brushing and flossing twice a day, you should visit the dentist once or twice every year for an exam and cleaning. Your dentist will evaluate if you have a need for more frequent visits.
6. Eye exam
Middle age is a time when symptoms of many eye diseases may begin to emerge — and when other diseases can develop without any symptoms at all. Have an eye exam every two to four years ages 40 to 54, and every one to three years, ages 55 to 64. Your provider may recommend more frequent eye exams if you have vision problems or glaucoma risk. Have an eye exam at least every year if you have diabetes.
7. Osteoporosis screening
Routine screening for osteoporosis for men is not recommended, but if you are between ages 50 to 70 AND have risk factors for osteoporosis, you should discuss screening with your provider. Risk factors can include long-term steroid use, low body weight, smoking, heavy alcohol use, having a fracture after age 50, or a family history of osteoporosis.
8. Prostate cancer screening
Most men age 50 or older should discuss screening for prostate cancer with their provider. African American men and those with a family history of prostate cancer in a first-degree relative younger than age 65 should discuss screening at age 45. The only way to confirm prostate cancer is with a biopsy, so the decision to screen for cancer should be based on individual discussions with your provider.
9. Testicular exam
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends against performing testicular self-exams. Doing testicular self-exams has been shown to have little to no benefit, mainly because the incidence of testicular cancer is rare and the cure rate is high even with advanced disease.
10. Lung cancer screening
The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults ages 55 to 80 years who have smoked an equivalent of one pack of cigarettes daily for at least 30 years AND currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Counseling and interventions are also available to help you quit smoking.
Philip Miller, DO, is a family medicine provider with Mount Nittany Physician Group. Dr. Miller sees patients at the Mount Nittany Health – Green Tech Drive location.
This article originally appeared in State College Magazine