Top 10 Men's Health Issues for 2018(and what doctors prescribe to deal with them)
Much has been done to raise awareness and educate the public on issues facing women today. From media campaigns celebrating various physical attributes in Dove’s Real Beauty and Sport England’s This Girl Can, to showing the ugly effects of domestic abuse with Women’s Aid. We've encouraged change for heart disease in Wear Red for Women and breast cancer with Wear It Pink.
These are all worthwhile issues that need discussing. But today, in support of June as Men's Health month, I’m focusing on the fella next door with the top ten men’s health issues.
Heart disease, aka cardiovascular disease, accounts for the top two leading causes of death, worldwide. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, overweight, physical inactivity, family history of heart disease, unhealthy diet, stress, and age. Warning signs can include: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest discomfort, dizziness or imbalance, among others. More information can be found at the American Heart Association.
Medications being prescribed: Praluent, Repatha
This broad term includes lung ailments such as emphysema, COPD, and chronic bronchitis. Common risk factors include smoking, inhaling secondhand smoke or radon. Another major driver of lung disease is air pollutants and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from vehicle exhaust, paint or varnish, construction materials, and household air fresheners and cleaning products. Two quick fixes to decrease your chances of having to deal with a respiratory disease: quit smoking (duh!) and open a window.
Medications being prescribed: Symbicort, Advair
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that 1 in 13 adults suffer from alcohol abuse or dependency. Men are, of course, at risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer, but the more common risk is that of alcohol-related injury. According to the CDC, men are more likely than women to take risks while drinking, leading to aggregated assault on women and children, car accidents, drowning, and alcohol poisoning. Not to be overshadowed are the short-term effects of alcohol use: erectile dysfunction, loss of face and chest hair,
Medications being prescribed: Antabuse, Campral, Naltrexone
Depression and Suicide
Mental health is likely the most least-talked about issue facing men, albeit over 6 million men suffer depressive disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Even when the fellas do see a doctor for physical ailments, they’re often reluctant to talk about anything to do with feelings or mood; men would rather suffer in silence that be perceived as weak, wimpy, or less-than. Some things affecting mental health include: genetics, life changes such as divorce, death, birth, job changes, financial problems, as well as the internal buildup of little things. Mental health is not an all or nothing issue – depression does not mean suicide, it means it’s time to explore the resources.
Medications being prescribed: Cymbalta, Lexapro, Celexa, Prozac
Your liver helps digest food, absorb nutrients, and gets rid of toxic substances. Liver disease can refer to cirrhosis, autoimmune liver disease, liver cancer, viral hepatitis, and alcoholic liver disease. Symptoms of liver disease can include jaundice of skin and eyes, abdominal pain and swelling, swelling in legs and ankles, dark urine, loss of appetite. Baby boomers are seeing a rise in liver disease thanks, in part, to the receiving blood transfusions prior to 1992, when screening for Hep C began. Luckily, Hepatitis C is now treatable with medications and a vaccine, although yet unavailable, is in the works.
Medications being prescribed: Harvoni, Epclusa, Daklinsa, Mavyret
The American Diabetes Association celebrates today’s modern man as someone who is more aware of his blood sugar health; a man who gets out, gets active, and gets informed. Diabetes is the body’s inability to produce or use insulin. Health consequences could include erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular problems, and issues with the kidney, skin, eyes, or nervous system. Symptoms can include unintentional weight loss, frequent urination, fatigue, and blurred vision.
Medications being prescribed: Humalog, NovoLog, Tresiba, Lantus
Alright boys… wear your sunscreen! We love to see you (and Hugh Jackman) mow the yard all tan and muscular, but we don’t enjoy the cancerous spots that randomly show up on your neck, back, arms, and behind your ears. Besides using SPF protection, you could wear a wide-brimmed hat, save your outdoor tasks for early morning (before 10am) or late afternoon (after 4pm), wear your UV-blocking sunglasses, and cover up with a stylish long sleeve shirt.
Medications being prescribed: Imiquimod, Aldesleukin
If you are a student of the 90’s, then you remember MTV’s The Real World and housemate Pedro Zamora. While a lot has changed since then, the issue of HIV and AIDS is still a top health concern for men. The CDC reports that 76% of all those infected with HIV are men, infected either through sex, drugs, or being born to an HIV-infected mother. Learn more
Medications being prescribed: Aptivus, Biktarvy, Norvir, Ziagen
Flu / Pneumonia
Men are 25% more likely to die from influenza or pneumonia than women. I wonder if it’s because of the “I don’t see doctors” mentality? Men most susceptible are those with compromised immune systems due to diabetes, COPD, AIDS, cancer, or congestive heart failure. The solution? Get the vaccine, according to the American Lung Association.
Medications being prescribed: Afluria, Fluvirin
Penis, Prostate, and Hormones
Let’s talk about the goods… there are so many nicknames for the favored body part, but since this is a semi-serious post, I’ll hold off on those. Here’s the bottom line (no pun intended): erectile dysfunction is common, but not necessarily a natural part of aging; while prostate enlargement is a natural part of aging, but necessarily comfortable.
Erectile dysfunction is categorized by getting or keeping an erection. Over 50% of the time, ED is caused by an underlying issue such as diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure or cholesterol, drug or alcohol abuse, stress, anxiety, depression, or medications.
Alternatively, an enlarged prostate is a natural part of climbing closer to the big 4-0. This growth, called benign prostatic hyperplasia, can include painful urination or difficulty stopping / starting the stream of urine. If left untreated, BPH can lead to more serious issues, such as incontinence, urinary tract infections, bladder / kidney damage, or kidney stones.
We all know what menopause is: a change in the sex hormones of women. But do you know what andropause is? It’s the male equivalent – a drop in testosterone as men age. Hypogonadism -- aka “Low T” -- usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 50 and can cause loss of sex drive, mood changes, depression, impotence, loss of muscle mass / strength, reduction in bone density, and fat accumulation. If you think your testosterone is low, you can raise it naturally or see your doc asap!
In our modern day way of being carefully inclusive, we still need to understand that there is a deep physical, psychological difference in men and women, and in the health issues that separately face them. Not all chromosomes are created equal. Do any of the men in your life -- fathers, brothers, husbands, sons, grandfathers, uncles -- deal with any of these health issues?