There are some challenges men deal with that only a fellow man would understand. Society largely expects men to stay strong in the face of affliction and suck it up. How often do you hear a man extensively talk about his failing health, for instance? Hardly ever.
Do some men secretly wish they could just come out and openly admit they’re struggling in some areas? Perhaps. Another group of men has been socialized to believe that acknowledging they have a problem would make them less of a man, and they’ve come to believe it.
Whether a man has a support system that would have his back at all times is another factor that determines how likely he is to show what would be perceived as weakness, even though it wouldn’t be thought of in similar terms if expressed by women.
This need to constantly show strength often takes its toll on men, leading to a range of health problems and accelerating progression of diseases that the man may already be predisposed to. Let’s look at the five most common health struggles for men and the right way to tackle them for improved health.
- Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular problems are the biggest health challenge for men. Research indicates that one in five men dies as a result of cardiovascular disease, and that majority of those who succumb are under 65 years of age.
Men develop atherosclerosis a lot more than women. Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plague accumulates along the arterial walls, eventually restricting blood flow in and out of the heart. Heart tissue begins to die off, at which point death follows. Men suffering from cardiovascular disease die six years earlier than women suffering from the same disease.
Stroke, another cardiovascular disease, affects nearly 3 million men every year. Here are some steps that men can take to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease:
- Quit smoking. Smoking damages arterial lining and leads to fat deposits along the walls. As the walls narrow, the risk of heart attack and stroke increases.
- Get routine cholesterol checks. Men have lower HDL than women, which partly contributes to their high cardiovascular disease risk. Doctors recommend a cholesterol check every five years for men who are 25 years and above. Unhealthy levels of cholesterol levels will be noted early and control measures given in good time.
- If you suffer from high blood pressure, follow doctor’s recommendations to bring it down and keep it there. High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- Eliminate unhealthy fats from your diet and eat whole, healthy foods.
- Exercise at least 30-45 minutes every day.
Diabetes is another of the biggest health risks for men. Research shows that one in three young men will develop diabetes early in life. Diseases has many negative effects, among them being a greater risk for stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, nerve failure and amputations, blindness and impotence. With medical intervention, diabetes is easy to control. Follow these steps to manage diabetes:
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, combining cardio workouts, strength training and aerobics.
- Eat healthy.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Seek treatment and get medications to manage diabetes.
- Lung and prostate cancer
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in men. Statistics on lung cancer are gloomy and show that more than half of the men diagnosed with lung cancer succumb within a year.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men, affecting one in six men. When detected early, prostate cancer can be treated successfully. Many men will survive the disease, but regular health checks and intervention where needed are required for this to happen.
Reduce your risk of both lung and prostate cancer by:
- Avoiding tobacco smoking.
- Avoiding exposure to secondary smoke.
- Protecting yourself from carcinogens.
- Eating healthy and increase intake of fruits and vegetables.
- Exercising every day.
- Getting regular health checkups.
- Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction affects just under 40% of men age 40. The problem becomes worse as men grow older. ED affects sex life and often leads to depression. All forms of erectile dysfunction should be addressed as soon as they are first observed. These include low libido or reduced desire for sex, inability to get an erection, weak erections and inability to sustain an erection.
Erectile dysfunction, which happens when blood does not flow to the sex organ as it should, often indicates problems in the blood vessels. Men who experience ED regularly are also at risk of serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
- Seek medical help as soon as you first experience ED. Your doctor will do tests to determine what the underlying causes are and take the necessary corrective measures. Usually, treating the problem causing ED leads to automatic improvement of ED.
- Lose weight. ED is common in men who are struggling with obesity.
- Avoid stressors that are likely to affect your sexual desire.
- Stop smoking.
- Limit alcohol intake and avoid narcotics.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle: healthy diet, regular exercise.
Depression takes a heavy toll on men, and left untreated, can lead to deterioration in mental and physical health and even death. Men don’t openly admit they’re depressed and this becomes the biggest challenge to getting the help they need.
With medical intervention, depression can be successfully treated. Depression is best treated using a combination of medications and therapy.
Learn to open up about the things that keep you awake at night. If you find it uncomfortable to discuss such personal aspects of your life with a close friend of family member, talk to a therapist instead.
It doesn’t matter who you talk to. The important thing is to talk to somebody.
Many of these health conditions are preventable and, where they already exist, treatable. Take a proactive role in securing your health by adopting health-boosting practices as suggested above.
If you’re a woman reading this, help the men in your life implement these preventive measures and encourage them to seek medical help as soon as you notice a problem.