Men’s Health: 5 Top Health Risks for Men

There are many diseases that are exclusive to or pose a greater danger to men than to women. In honor of men’s health month, let’s look at the most common diseases that affect men, how to know if you could be at risk, and how you can protect yourself.

Men's Health: 5 Top Health Risks for Men

Top Dangers to Men’s Health — and How to Guard Against Them

1. Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular, or heart disease, is the leading cause of death in both men and women. It is in fact a blanket term used to describe several diseases affecting the heart — including coronary heart disease, arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, as well as others.

You may be at higher risk for heart disease if you:

  • Have a family history of the disease
  • Smoke
  • Have a diet high in fat, sugar, salt, and cholesterol
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high blood cholesterol
  • Have diabetes
  • Are obese

How to Protect Yourself

The primary way to improve your heart health is with a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and by maintaining a regular routine of exercise. See your doctor for regular checkups, discuss any family history of heart disease, and keep informed about your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Since cigarettes are a major contributor, take steps to quit smoking.

For more information about cardiovascular disease, check out our blog post, 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Heart Disease.

2. Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men worldwide. In its early stages, lung cancer mimics a common cold, so it can be hard to diagnose early. Attention to your symptoms and an open conversation with your doctor are important keys to early detection and recovery.

Symptoms of lung cancer include:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Wheezing
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Hoarseness
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Persistent and repetitive infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia

How to Protect Yourself

There are things you can do to prevent lung cancer. If you haven’t already, quit smoking! Avoid situations that will put you into contact with second-hand smoke. Avoid carcinogens at work — and take the proper precautions when handling carcinogenic material, such as asbestos. Lastly, eat a balanced diet with loads of fruits and vegetables and get regular exercise.

3. Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a gland found only in men and is responsible for the production of a fluid found in semen. It is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The urethra, which carries urine and semen out of the body through the penis, goes right through the prostate.  Because of this location, many of the symptoms associated with prostate cancer are urinary or sexual in nature.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Urgent need to urinate, frequently at night
  • Painful urination
  • Difficulty holding back or starting urination
  • Interrupted flow of urination
  • Difficulty having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or thighs

How to Protect Yourself

Early detection is key to curing prostate cancer. It is recommended that men over the age of 40 have regular screenings. This age can vary depending on personal risk factors, such as genetic markers or family history. Talk to your doctor about your personal risk for prostate cancer, and when and how to proceed with screening.

4. Depression

More than 6 million men are diagnosed with depression each year. Unfortunately, for many years depression was labeled as a “woman’s disease,” which held many men back from seeking treatment. Yet, with more education on the matter, we are thankfully beginning to put that stereotype to rest.

Symptoms of depression in men include:

  • Loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Apathy
  • Trouble sleeping or staying asleep

Men and women will sometimes experience different symptoms. For example, while women with depression suffer from feelings of worthlessness and sadness, men are more likely to experience aggression, hostility, and irritability.

How to Protect Yourself

If you experience any of the above symptoms, discuss your options with your doctor. It may be as simple as taking an antidepressant or talking with a qualified therapist. Either way, you can get help to feel better.

5. Diabetes

Diabetes is a serious condition in which the body has trouble producing or using insulin. This often leads to high and unpredictable blood sugar levels and may lead to other complications. Diabetes often goes undiagnosed and untreated, since early symptoms are fairly mild.

Symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss, even without dieting
  • Blurred vision
  • Numb sensation or tingling in the hands or feet

You should pay particular attention to these symptoms if you have any risk factors for the condition. Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Family history
  • Inactivity
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels

How to Protect Yourself

Diabetes does not have to be inevitable. You can prevent it with a few easy diet and lifestyle changes. Eat a balanced diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Get moving with a regular exercise routine — such as walking, swimming, or Pilates. Limit your alcohol consumption, and quit smoking.

For more information on diabetes, and low-stress ways to manage it, check out our blog post, 6 Handy Diabetes Apps to Support a Healthy Lifestyle.

Don’t mess around with your health. If any of these men’s health issues sound a little too familiar, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Take the recommended steps to improve and protect your health.

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