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
Nicotine withdrawal: what to expect
The decision to quit smoking is a courageous one, as it requires you to change your habits and temporarily live with the symptoms of withdrawal. Here’s what you can expect if you give up this vice.
If you’re addicted to nicotine, you’ll experience a variety of physical and mental effects when your body is deprived of it. This is one reason why cravings are so strong, and those first few puffs offer such relief. For the first couple of weeks after you stop using nicotine, you may experience:
• Difficulty concentrating
• Increased appetite
As you go through the stages of nicotine withdrawal, it’s important to remember your symptoms are temporary and the benefits of not smoking far outweigh the discomforts of quitting. To help you stay motivated, keep in mind that by giving up smoking, you’ll:
• Save money
• Lower your risk of heart disease
• Be less likely to get cancer
• Have more energy and stamina
• Sound less hoarse when you speak
• Be able to smell and taste better
• Have healthier-looking skin
• Be less vulnerable to infections and viruses
• Spend less on insurance premiums
There are numerous tools and resources available to help you through the process of quitting your smoking habit. To maximize your chances of success, don’t hesitate to use them.
The benefits of a pedicure
Think pedicures are only for people wearing strappy little shoes and taking social media photos of their feet on a tropical beach? Think again.
When done properly, pedicures promote good foot health. If you have diabetes, however, talk to your doctor about a safe alternative.
During the pedicure, you’ll start with a foot soak in a tub of warm water. Your toenails will be clipped — make sure they’re clipped straight across rather than on a curve, to prevent ingrown toenails. The technician will exfoliate dead skin off of areas like your heel, bottoms, and sides of your feet and elsewhere. You may receive a foot and calf massage, and you’ll likely have some gel or lotion rubbed onto your feet and ankles.
There’s a lot here that’s good for the health of your feet, including:
* Properly trimmed nails and the removal of dead skin, particularly in places that can harbor fungi, like the area between the toes.
* Improved circulation. The warm water and the massage stimulate circulation, which not only feels great but is good for your joints also.
* Removal of calluses.
* A close-up of your feet, which is an opportunity to catch any problems early.
A few last notes on safety: Make sure the salon is properly licensed, that it sterilizes its instruments, and that it drains and sanitizes foot baths between customers. You want to also be sure they don’t use non-metal tools (which are porous and can carry bacteria), or that if they do, they are only used for one customer and then tossed. And as much as you might be tempted, experts say not to shave before a pedicure, as bacteria is more likely to get in via small nicks and cuts.
Start with the ideal sleep environment
If you’re having difficulty falling and staying asleep, don’t reach for the sleep aids or call the doctor just yet — a few tweaks to your sleeping environment might provide the boost you need to get a restful night’s sleep.
* Consider your caffeine intake. According to Harvard Medical School, you should avoid caffeine for at least four to six hours before bedtime.
* Think about your routine. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you can improve your sleep health by establishing a routine and sticking with it.
* Check your sleep environment. Your bedroom should be cool, dark and quiet. Use blackout curtains or an eye. A cool room — even a bit chilly — is also helpful, so keep the temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
* Eliminate distractions. Keep screens out of your room
* Go pet-free in your bedroom.
* Move your body. Work out at least three hours before bedtime.
* Eat lighter in the evenings. According to the CDC, heavier meals might make it harder for you to get comfortable and fall asleep. Instead of tacos at 10 in the evening, if you need a snack, try some cheese and crackers.
What are the treatment options for cystic fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis is a progressive genetic condition that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the respiratory and digestive systems. Over time, this can limit the affected person’s ability to breathe. While there’s no cure for cystic fibrosis, a lung transplant can considerably increase a patient’s life expectancy.
Additionally, there are several ways for people living with cystic fibrosis to prevent lung infections and relieve symptoms such as persistent coughing, wheezing and digestive issues. These include:
• Techniques to clear mucus from the airways such as vest therapy or postural drainage and percussion (PD&P)
• Taking antibiotics to prevent and treat lung infections
• Taking oral pancreatic enzymes, vitamins, and other prescribed medications
To further minimize their symptoms, people with cystic fibrosis should also do their best to:
• Engage in physical activity on a regular basis
• Avoid smoking and being in smoky environments
• Receive recommended vaccines, particularly for respiratory conditions
• Adopt a balanced diet based on their condition and nutritional needs
For more personalized treatment options, people with cystic fibrosis should consult their doctor. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry, more than 30,000 people in the United States are living with cystic fibrosis. The condition occurs when a child inherits two abnormal CFTR genes, one from each parent.
What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?
September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which makes it an ideal time to learn more about this disease and speak with your doctor about it, especially if you’re a man over the age of 50. Here are several factors that can increase your risk of developing this type of cancer:
• Age. Approximately 60 percent of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in men 65 and older.
• Family history. Men may be at a higher risk if a close relative was diagnosed with the disease before the age of 65.
• Weight. Men who are overweight are more likely to be diagnosed with an advanced stage of prostate cancer.
• Height. Some studies have found a link between being tall and having an increased risk of developing this type of cancer.
• Excess calcium. A diet that’s high in dairy products and other calcium-rich foods may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
• Genetic mutations. Inherited mutations of two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, have been associated with this type of cancer.
Other risk factors include smoking cigarettes, handling certain chemicals, and having high levels of androgens or inflammation of the prostate gland.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men undergo prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests starting at age 50, or sooner if they’re at a high risk of developing prostate cancer. This blood test can help detect the disease in its early stages before symptoms appear. Talk to your doctor about whether it’s right for you.
To learn more about this disease, visit cancer.org.
For unknown reasons, prostate cancer is more common among men of African descent than it is among other groups, and they’re more likely to die of the disease too.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: Reduce your cancer risk
Women have options to reduce of risk of ovarian cancer through lifestyle and awareness.
According to the National Institutes of Health, epithelial ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death among gynecologic cancers and the fourth leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 21,000 women will receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2021, while almost 14,000 will die from the disease.
Who is at risk?
According to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, any woman is at risk, but certain factors may increase that risk, including obesity, childbirth later in life or never having a full-term pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy, family history, previous breast cancer, genetic mutations, prior fertility treatments, and smoking.
How can I decrease my risk?
If family history or previous cancers increase your risk for ovarian cancer, develop a plan with your doctor. Sometimes. removing the ovaries is the best way to eliminate risk. For women who still want to have children, childbirth and breastfeeding reduce risk. For those who want to delay childbirth, taking birth control can help.
What are the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer?
Early detection is critical for successful treatment, but there is no standard screening or test to detect ovarian cancer, according to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.
Keep your family history in mind and be aware of possible symptoms, including unusual bloating, abdominal pain, difficulty eating or sudden fullness, frequent urination, digestive discomfort (including heartburn, upset stomach, and constipation), back pain, fatigue, menstrual changes, or painful intercourse.
If these symptoms persist for two weeks even with normal interventions like exercise or dietary changes, contact your doctor immediately.