There is a long-standing perception that women tend to focus on their health more than men do. Unfortunately, it’s a perception that rings all too true. A survey cited in a 2019 article from AARP found that only half of the men surveyed get regular check-ups and 72 percent preferred household chores over going to the doctor. While it’s true that women are more accustomed to regular doctor visits from an early age, it’s not an excuse for men to take their eye off the ball when it comes to their health.
Data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that life expectancy for men is five years less than women. There are a number of factors contributing to this statistic. While heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, men tend to have it earlier and are 50 percent more likely than women to die from it. Suicide rates are higher for men and its been shown that men are less likely than women to maintain healthy eating and exercise.
So, how can men defy the stats and get and stay healthy? Here are four simple things you can do to give your health the attention it needs now.
Go to the doctor
Many times, men only visit the doctor when they absolutely have to – whether it’s an illness they can’t manage at home, an injury, or other ailment that needs immediate attention. The problem lies in the fact that many medical conditions men deal with may not have obvious symptoms. A regular check-up with a primary care provider can help you build a trusting relationship with a provider who can help you stay on top of your health and flag any issues before they become serious. A primary care provider can also help you stay up to date with screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, colon and prostate cancer and more, as appropriate.
A healthy and well-balanced diet is one of the best things you can do for your health. Keeping a variety of healthy foods in your daily intake will help you ensure that you’re getting the nutrients your body needs, including vitamins, minerals, fiber and lean protein. Planning ahead and even prepping your weekly meals in advance can help you stay on target and avoid temptation. If you’re not sure where to start with a good eating plan, a dietitian or nutritionist can help you get started. Another health guideline recommended by the CDC includes limiting alcohol intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men.
No, not that kind of moving. While loading and unloading boxes during a house move can be good physical activity, we’re talking about getting up and moving your body on a regular basis. The benefits of regular exercise are pretty impressive: longer life expectancy; a lower risk for a number of common health issues; stronger muscles, bones and joints; and improved mental health – all great motives for getting moving. Exercise can come in many forms, too, so find what works for you – whether it’s walking, jogging, lifting, fitness classes or a local intramural sports league. Be sure and talk to your provider before you start a new exercise routine.
Destigmatize mental health
Mental health plays a vital role in your overall well-being, so it’s unfortunate that there has been such a stigma and discomfort around discussing it. If you’re suffering from or have questions about anxiety, stress, depression or any mental health issue, there are two very important things to remember: you are not alone, and it is ok to ask for help. If you’re suffering, seek help and treatment from a mental health professional. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential support for suicidal crisis and emotional distress 24/7 at 800.273.8255. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Your health is everything. It’s what powers you to be able to enjoy all of the people and things in your life that you love. Take control of it today so you can live tomorrow to its fullest.
If you are looking for a provider to help you take control of your health, Fauquier Health can help. Call 540.316.DOCS or visit FauquierHealth.org to get connected with the care you need.
by Dr. Ahmed Fida, Family Medicine
Read this before you shovel snow
Shoveling snow is a job for an athlete, even though people tend to think it is a routine activity that anyone can do.
In fact, shoveling snow takes a huge toll on the heart and back. One shovel of wet snow weighs 16 pounds. If you shovel 12 loads a minute, then in 10 minutes, you’ve moved 2,000 pounds, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
About 100 Americans on average die each year because of snow removal exertion, according to the Denver Post. About 12,000 suffer injuries that require a trip to the emergency room, according to a 16-year study reported in PubMed.
One key is to keep ahead of the drifts. Push snow several times while the snow is feathery, cold, and shallow before it becomes heavy, wet, and deep.
If you must shovel:
* Keep your spine in an upright, neutral position.
* Whenever you can push the snow — don’t shovel it. You can use your large muscles in the hips and legs for pushing.
If you do have to lift:
* Take small bites of the snow with the shovel only about a fourth full.
* Use your leg muscles to lift the load.
* Keep the load low to the ground and close to your body.
* Avoid throwing the snow if you can. If you must throw it, throw light loads.
Breaks are critical
How long you can work depends on how heavy the snow is, your physical condition, and how cold it is outside.
* If you feel fatigued, pain, or shortness of breath, rest until you feel normal again. If you experience shortness of breath for a prolonged period, see your doctor immediately.
How to avoid getting sick overseas
Do you have an upcoming trip? If you’re headed abroad, it’s important to take precautions to avoid getting sick. You don’t want to ruin your travel plans by accidentally eating or drinking something that makes you ill.
Remember, even if you’ve received the recommended vaccinations and taken preventive medication, you won’t be protected against common pathogens and bacteria. You should still adhere to the following tips to avoid getting sick:
• Only eat fruits and vegetables that are cooked and peeled
• Avoid raw food, especially shellfish and salads
• Don’t eat food that’s left sitting out uncovered
• Only drink water that’s boiled or bottled and opened in front of you
• Skip the ice cubes unless you’re sure they’re made with decontaminated water
• Avoid unpasteurized dairy products
• Don’t eat food from street cart vendors
If you’re careful about what you eat and drink, it’s likely you’ll remain healthy when you travel overseas.
Ski fever: The highest slopes can cause mountain fever
For doctors and nurses at Colorado’s highest elevations, ski season means a steady flow of casualties from a little-understood problem: acute mountain sickness.
Skiers are already for the risk of broken bones and frostbite, but they often don’t know how mountain sickness works, and resorts don’t tell them. The condition is caused by a decrease in oxygen in the blood at higher altitudes. It affects people who travel rapidly from sea level to elevations over 8,000 feet. A more serious condition, high-altitude pulmonary edema, is fatal in 1 percent of cases.
Thousands of skiers experience symptoms within a day of arriving: headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, and vomiting. About 25 percent to 40 percent of visitors experience symptoms of altitude sickness. Copper Mountain Ski Resort warns would-be visitors about it. Their flier says it creates a “hangover” feeling and pregnant women, people with anemia, or people with chronic heart and lung conditions should be cautious.
Aspen, Vail, and some other Colorado mountains have bases at or above 8,000 feet, but people at hotels experience less altitude sickness. The hotels lie at lower elevations, allowing visitors more time to adjust. The peak at Aspen rises to 12,510 feet. At Telluride, the peak is 12,255. Breckenridge peaks rise to 12,998 feet and Copper Mountain peaks top out at 12,313 feet.
Skiers coming from sea level locations such as Chicago (668 feet) or Michigan (839 feet) should allow time for their bodies to adjust before going to the higher peaks.
When should you go to the emergency room?
It’s easy to see that an accident victim needs emergency treatment. Judging whether a medical condition requires a trip to the emergency room (ER) is more difficult.
Get to the ER fast, say doctors at Harvard Medical School, if any of these problems occur:
Severe abdominal pain. Especially if there is vomiting, swelling or tenderness of the abdomen, or fever. This may signal appendicitis, bowel obstruction, or a perforated organ.
Breathing difficulty. Go quickly if you have heart or lung disease, asthma, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, swelling, dizziness, pale clammy skin, or swollen tongue or throat.
Chest pain. People with coronary artery disease or angina should get help if pain begins during exercise and persists despite 10 minutes of rest or under-the-tongue nitroglycerin. It could signal a heart attack.
Confusion or changes in consciousness. Sudden onset of confusion or memory loss is an emergency. The altered mental status could be a sign of stroke or other serious problem.
Fractures. Suspected fractures should be evaluated promptly, except in the case of a finger or toe.
Headaches. Most can be treated in the doctor’s office. Go to the ER if a headache is accompanied by confusion, nausea, and vomiting, loss of sensation or muscle strength, fever or sensitivity to light.
Numbness or tingling. Widespread numbness or tingling can be due to a stroke. Get help immediately if one side of the body is affected, vision is blurred or distorted or if speaking is difficult.
Rash. Rash accompanies many illnesses, is a common reaction to certain foods, and usually does not require immediate treatment. But purple spots on the skin accompanied by fever are signs of serious illness such as meningitis. Hives that appear after an insect sting are a signal to get immediate treatment.
Vomiting. This is an emergency if it produces blood or material that looks like coffee grounds. These are symptoms of serious problems that should be treated immediately.
Cost is never a consideration when your life is in jeopardy. For these symptoms, get emergency room treatment as soon as possible.
DNA determines your reaction to caffeine
Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychostimulant in the world, but did you know your genetic code can determine if it has a positive or negative effect on your body? Here’s a quick overview.
Consuming caffeine increases blood pressure and dilates blood vessels. While this can have a feel-good effect on some people, others may experience heart palpitations as a result.
One of the reasons for this difference in reactions is a specific enzyme that’s responsible for metabolizing it. Genetic variation determines how fast your kidneys can eliminate caffeine from your body. Consequently, it has practically no effect on people whose bodies can get rid of it quickly, but, it can increase the risk of hypertension in people whose bodies eliminate it slowly.
The amount of coffee you drink may also be linked to your DNA. Scientists have pinpointed two specific genes that are directly associated with how many cups of joe people drink per day. Additionally, these genetic sequences indicate whether someone feels the need to consume caffeine, and if so, how often.
If you’re concerned about your caffeine intake, make sure to discuss the issue with your doctor at your next appointment.
The science of sweating
Everybody does it, but we usually try to hide the evidence. Sweating is a normal part of living, an essential function that helps keep us alive. It’s satisfying during hot yoga sessions or a long workout, but for the most part, we spend our adult lives trying to hide the evidence with anti-perspirants, dress shields, moisture-wicking fabrics, and for the particularly sweaty among us, Botox injections in the armpits to paralyze sweat glands.
Sweat is more than just something that stains our favorite shirts, according to Sarah Everts in her book The Joy of Sweat, published earlier this year. It’s a built-in cooling system, a complex network of glands that release fluid, which evaporates from heated skin and produces a cooling effect that lets us go outside on a hot day or enjoy a workout without risking death. And far from being gross and unsightly, sweat is an evolutionary marvel, an adaptation that allowed early humans to disperse into diverse climates and forage for food during daylight hours while many predators retreated to the shade for survival.
And that unpleasant odor that we associate with sweat? Our bodies don’t actually create that. Larger sweat glands, such as those in the armpits and groin, secrete sweat with a slightly different molecular profile, with fatty particles that bacteria love to feast on. In turn, the bacteria produce waste that, to human noses, smells like rancid butter and wet dog, among other things, according to Everts.
But even if your armpits are a little ripe, don’t kick yourself over it because, as Everts reminds readers, it could be much worse. Some animals spend their days rolling in mud, while others urinate or vomit on themselves to produce a similar, though much less efficient cooling effect.