Male health – signs to look out for

It is a cliché, but not without foundation, to say that men are more reluctant to visit a doctor’s office than are women. There may be many reasons why a man of any age avoids seeing the doctor; none of them are likely to help him get better. So what signs should you look for in the health of male family members or friends, and when is it time to prod them into taking action?

Younger men

While many younger men may appear to be in good physical health, bad habits that are present now can cause big problems later if they are not tackled promptly. An example of this is weight: the number of overweight teenagers in the US has tripled in the last 20 years. Being overweight sets a young man up for potentially fatal and life-limiting issues, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, so establishing healthy patterns of eating and exercise early in life, is important.

It is also crucial that families communicate effectively with young men and boys about other health-related behaviors and issues, including attitudes to driving (road accidents are the biggest killer of men aged 15-25 in the US); drugs and alcohol, mental health, violence/anger management and sexual health.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is often ignored or overlooked by younger men, however, there is evidence to suggest that young males, who fail to manage even mildly elevated blood pressure when it appears, are at increased risk of developing very serious health problems later in life. Hypertension rarely shows symptoms in young men, so it is important to get it checked.

Smoking

Of course, one of the biggest threats to health for all males, regardless of age, is smoking. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the US, and causes approximately one in five deaths (480,000 deaths each year). Families can support younger men to make a decision never to smoke, for example by talking with them about the issue and by not smoking themselves.

Men aged 30 plus

As men grow older, so their risk of health problems increases. Hypertension is a major problem in this age group, but often has no symptoms; regular monitoring is key. Left untreated, raised blood pressure leads to heart attacks, heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.

Diabetes is also a growing problem for men aged 30 and over; type 2 diabetes is often linked to excess weight, so it is important that healthy eating and exercise habits are maintained.

Getting help

It goes without saying that if you are seriously worried about the health of a male friend or relative, you should encourage them to get medical help, quickly. However, in many cases all that is needed is a change in habits or a little more understanding. Luckily, there are lots of sources of health advice online, so why not share them with the men in your world, and help them towards a healthier, happier future?

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