The National Center for Health Statistics reports that over 25 percent of males in the United States don’t have regular health care plans. Everyone – and we don’t mean just the entire male population, but also women and even teenagers – should strive to develop healthy habits like eating clean and working out regularly to prevent future health complications.
You might have heard “Prevention is better than a cure” many times over, but the reality is, it is better to detect an illness or disease before they get worse. Getting a diagnosis early can help you go through the necessary steps in order to salvage your health. Now you might be thinking, okay, I get it, now what do I do? Here are 10 health screenings you should make time for.
Start with the basics. A physical exam will let determine a person’s height, weight, and BMI. And though BMI isn’t exactly as serious as prostate exams or osteoporosis screening (more on these later), it can determine if you’re overweight or obese, and more importantly the health risks that come with the numbers on the scale.
The American Heart Association recommends all men at the age of 20 to undergo cholesterol screening every four to six years. Why does it have to start too early? Studies have found that overall, men have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases than women due to their cholesterol levels.
It’s imperative for you to take the test due to several health factors like diabetes, smoking, family history of stroke and heart attack, and if your BMI is over 30.
Cholesterol test results will determine your HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels. Note that your goal number should be below 200 mg/dL.
Check out our guide to understanding the good and the bad of cholesterol numbers here.
When it comes to immunization shots, it’s important to have a tetanus-diphtheria booster shot every 10 years. If you’ve never been given a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough) vaccination, it’s important to get one dose when you’re an adult. Get a flu shot every year as well.
If you were born after 1980 and never had the varicella vaccine, get two (2) doses as an adult. If you were born after 1956, consult with a physician if you should get the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) shot.
Get your human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine shots if you haven’t already, and for men over 60, get a shot against shingles even if you’ve had it before. Also get vaccines to protect against pneumonia if you’re over 65. This will be taken in two doses – a PCV13 first, and a PPSV23 a year later.
High blood pressure is an indicator of your risk of developing heart and kidney diseases and getting a stroke. If your BP levels are high, make sure to talk with your doctor about how frequently you should monitor it. You don’t even have to make daily trips to the clinic – if you have a blood pressure reader at home, you can do it from the confines of your room. If you don’t really go to the doctor’s clinic that often, remember to have it checked by your physician every two years (annually if you’re borderline).
If you have a family history of colon cancer or polyps, it’s important to undergo colon cancer screening. Typically, men between ages 50 to 75 should undergo several screening tests like a flexible sigmoidoscopy every decade, with a stool occult blood test annually, and a colonoscopy also every 10 years, especially if you have ulcerative colitis or growth of adenomatous polyps.
The AIM at Melanoma Foundation has reported that cases of melanoma have increased faster than any other type of cancer in the United States in the last four decades. Under the age of 50, more women are actually diagnosed with melanoma than men, but things reverse over age 80. During this age, men get diagnosed with melanoma three times more than women.
Always check your skin for any moles that change, or look abnormal and irregular. Remember the ABCDE’s of checking for symptoms: asymmetry to check if two halves of a mole are not the same; border for checking if the mole’s edges are irregular; color if the surrounding area of the mole or the mole itself has changed with regards to its appearance; diameter, if it’s larger than 5mm; and everything else, if the mole starts to change outside of the aforementioned symptoms, and if it starts to get itchy or start to bleed.
Get screened for osteoporosis if you’re over 50. Several factors that call for a screening include long-term smoking and alcohol use, steroids, body weight below normal, and a history of fractures and family history of osteoporosis.
Many people with diabetes aren’t aware that they have it. Continuing with day to day activities that aggravate the condition can lead to more health complications like heart disease, stroke, blindness due to damaged blood vessels in the retina, impotence, and nerve damage.
If you start to show symptoms, you’ll go through the fasting plasma glucose test that will determine whether or not you have type 2 diabetes.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said that the risks that come with prostate cancer screening like the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test) outweigh the potential benefits. This is because false positive results more often than not lead to unnecessary biopsies that not only affect both your physical, mental and spiritual well-being but also makes you put your money where they didn’t necessarily have to be in the first place. If you’re experiencing symptoms, however, consult with your doctor if you should take a digital rectal exam (DRE).
It also never hurt anyone to check for sexually transmitted infections!
More often than not, the main factor that hinders us from taking these screenings is the fear of what the doctors would find. But you have to remember that finding out about your health risks and conditions early on will allow you to minimize damage and let you live the life you want without too many health restrictions.