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STONE: Men’s health needs change as they age - Odessa American: Levi Stone

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STONE: Men’s health needs change as they age

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Posted: Sunday, November 10, 2019 4:30 am

From birth through their golden years, men subject their bodies to a lot of wear and tear. Most of which is self-inflicted due questionable actions and a lack of better judgments made over a respective lifetime. Collectively, men tend to also indulge in habits taking years away from their life rather than adding to them. From tobacco and alcohol to red meat and fried foods, we can be just as destructive to the inside of our bodies as we are to the outside. As men age, so too does the cumulative damage we rack up and the need to address certain conditions. Getting an early start in life to address these issues begins with seeing a doctor far before symptoms and problems begin to show up.

Men may be at their physical peaks in their 20’s and still feel great throughout their 30’s, but this is the most important time men need to begin seeing a doctor, at least annually, to review overall health status, perform a thorough physical exam, and establish a baseline to build from. This includes proactive measures in assessing current blood pressure, routine blood tests, making sure all vaccines are up to date, and being screened for sexually transmitted diseases. During this stage in life, it is also a great time to conduct monthly testicular self exams as well as incorporating positive lifestyle changes to ward off chronic diseases down the road. With proper diet and exercise, things like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease can be kept in check to avoid the long-term damage that is often associated with these conditions.

As men enter their 40’s and 50’s, colon and prostate health becomes a new priority. While it does mean the dreaded rectal exams and colonoscopies become part of the screening process, the reward is catching early signs of cancer in its treatable stages. Around 50,000 people will die of colon cancer this year alone and would be far less if people made the effort to seek early screening. Both colon and prostate cancers have a very high cure rate…especially when caught early. Excuses such as not having the time, thinking it can’t happen to you, or ignoring symptoms and assuming it will just go away are reasons why colon cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

From age 50 and beyond, not only do men need to increase the frequency of regular checkups and screenings, but also include bone health and hormone checks to their list. Hormones and bone health go hand in hand, as does the importance of diet and exercise. Exercise boosts bone and muscle mass. The actions of moderate exercise promote the body to grow bone and build muscle, whereas a combination of poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and improper hormone balance (particularly low testosterone in men) contribute to bone loss and weakening. Testosterone levels can begin to decrease in men as early as 30 years of age, each year the decline becomes more progressive which can also lead to low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and even depression. Continued follow up with your doctor, openly discussing these symptoms, and acting upon them will go a long way.

Aside from being men who work hard and play hard, we are also husbands, fathers, and sons to our spouses, children, and parents respectively. While it’s important we take care of ourselves, insuring as much longevity we can muster, there are so many others depending on us to stick around for awhile. The priority in managing your health isn’t just a selfish one. Men must take a more proactive role in caring for themselves by taking the initiative to see their doctor routinely. Getting checkups, especially if started early in life, creates a road to better management of health and prevention of disease. Men must not only do this for themselves, but for those they love as well. Be a man about your health and take the initiative to see your doctor now instead of later.

Odessa, TX

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