Wednesday, April 25, 2018

3 Common Men’s Health Problems and What to Do about Them

There are many health problems that men should be concerned about especially with increasing age. Effectively dealing with any of these problems requires increased awareness, reducing exposure to risk factors, not ignoring signs and symptoms when they occur, consulting regularly with health care providers, identifying and treating health problems early, and complying with prescribed treatments. Below is a description of the most common health problems for men along with information on treatment. 

1. Cardiovascular (Heart) Disease:  Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States, even surpassing cancer. Common risk factors for heart disease include obesity, smoking, alcoholism, a sedentary lifestyle, high stress, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. While genetic factors can also play a role in heart disease, many of the risk factors are preventable or modifiable. This can be accomplished with a regular exercise routine on most days during the week, a proper diet that is low in saturated fat and high in whole grain fiber, engaging in regular relaxing leisure activities, and avoiding harmful lifestyle choices such as alcohol abuse and tobacco use. It is also important to go for yearly physicals, monitor blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and to comply with a health care provider’s treatment recommendations.   

2. Diabetes: Many men with heart disease also have diabetes, the most common form of which is diabetes mellitus (often abbreviated as DM). DM is a complex, long-term disorder in which the body is unable to effectively use insulin, a natural chemical that helps the body quickly absorb glucose (a type of sugar) from the blood into cells for energy and storage needs. Signs and symptoms of DM include frequent thirst, frequent urination, sweet smelling urine (due to high glucose levels), tiredness, increased appetite, and vision problems. DM can cause damage to blood vessels including in the eyes and feet which is why vision and foot care is so important during treatment. DM is typically treated with a combination of diet, exercise, and medication (typically a form of insulin) to help improve the body’s ability to absorb glucose. Compliance with medication and glucose monitoring is often a problem in patients with DM (due to finger pricks and injections), which is why it is important to meet with a diabetic nurse educator and have a good social support network to help increase treatment compliance.  Oral medications for diabetes are also available as is blood sugar monitoring without finger pricks.

3. Erectile Dysfunction: Heart disease and diabetes are both risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Commonly referred to as ED, erectile dysfunction is a frustrating problem for many men and their partners.  Despite this frustration, many men are reluctant to discuss ED with their healthcare provider due to social embarrassment and social discomfort.  If you or a loved one suffers from ED, it is important to know that help is available. This can include psychological counseling if the cause is related to anxiety or depression. Treatment can also involve using medication to increase blood flow to the affected tissue. The most commonly used such medication is Viagra. Although this medication once required a prescription, you can now obtain Viagra without a prescription.

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