- Health Overview
Men’s health encompasses all aspects that are related to his mental and physical well-being from puberty through men’s life stages. As men age their health concerns are likely to change. The men’s health program is designed to raise awareness of men’s health and to promote activities that will improve the health and safety of men.
While the life-expectancy gap between men and women has decreased, it’s no secret that men still need to pay more attention to their bodies. Several things work against men. They tend to smoke and drink more than women. They don’t seek medical help as often as women. Some men define themselves by their work, which can add to stress.
There are also health conditions that only affect men, such as prostate cancer and low testosterone. Many of the major health risks that men face – like colon cancer or heart disease- can be prevented and treated with early diagnosis. Screening tests can find diseases early, when they are easier to treat. It’s important to have regular checkups and screenings.
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- Prostate Cancer
The prostate is the gland below a man’s bladder that produces fluid for semen. Prostate cancer is the third most common cause of death from cancer in men of all ages. It is rare in men younger than 40.
Levels of a substance called prostate specific antigen (PSA) is often high in men with prostate cancer. However, PSA can also be high with other prostate conditions. Since the PSA test became common, most prostate cancers are found before they cause symptoms. Symptoms of prostate cancer may include
• Problems passing urine, such as pain, difficulty starting or stopping the stream, or dribbling
• Low back pain
• Pain with ejaculation
Prostate Cancer treatment often depends on the stage of the cancer. How fast the cancer grows and how different it is from surrounding tissue helps determine the stage. Treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or control of hormones that affect the cancer.
Prostate Cancer Conditions
The prostate is a gland. It helps make semen, the fluid that contains sperm. The prostate surrounds the tube that carries urine away from the bladder and out of the body. A young man’s prostate is about the size of a walnut. It slowly grows larger with age. If it gets too large, it can cause problems. This is very common after age 50. The older men get, the more likely they are to have prostate trouble.
Some common problems are:
• Prostatitis – an infection, usually caused by bacteria
• Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH – an enlarged prostate, which may cause dribbling after urination
or a need to go often, especially at night
• Prostate Cancer – a common cancer that responds best to treatment when detected early
- Colon Cancer
Cancer of the colon or rectum is also called colorectal cancer. In the United States, it is the fourth most common cancer in men and women. Caught early, it is often curable.
It is more common in people over 50, and the risk increases with age. You are also more likely to get it if you have:
• Polyps – growths inside the colon and rectum that may become cancerous
• A diet that is high in fat
• A family history or personal history of colorectal cancer
Symptoms can include blood in the stool, narrower stools, a change in bowel habits and general stomach discomfort. However, you may not have symptoms at first, so screening is important. Everyone who is 50 or older should be screened for colorectal cancer. Colonoscopy is one method that your doctor can use to screen for colorectal cancer. Treatments for colorectal cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination.
Colonoscopy is a procedure that lets your doctor look inside your entire large intestine. It uses an instrument called a colonoscope, or scope for short. Scopes have a tiny camera attached to a long, thin tube. The procedure lets your doctor see things such as inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, and ulcers.
Your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy for a number of reasons:
• To look for early signs of cancer in the colon and rectum
• To look for causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits
• To evaluate symptoms like abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and weight loss
Your doctor can also remove polyps from your colon during a colonoscopy.
A polyp is an extra piece of tissue that grows inside your body. Colonic polyps grow in the large intestine, or colon. Most polyps are not dangerous. However, some polyps may turn into cancer or already be cancer. To be safe, doctors remove polyps and test them. Polyps can be removed when a doctor examines the inside of the large intestine during a colonoscopy.
Anyone can get polyps, but certain people are more likely than others. You may have a greater chance of getting polyps if you:
• Are over age 50
• Have had polyps before
• Have a family member with polyps
• Have a family history of Colon Cancer
Most colon polyps do not cause symptoms. If you have symptoms, they may include blood on your underwear or on toilet paper after a bowel movement, blood in your stool, or constipation or diarrhea lasting more than a week.
- Heart Disease
If you’re like most people, you think that heart disease is a problem for other folks. But heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. It is also a major cause of disability. There are many different forms of heart disease. The most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself. This is called Coronary Artery Disease and happens slowly over time. It’s the major reason people have heart attacks.
You can help reduce your risk of heart disease by taking steps to control factors that put you at greater risk:
• Control your blood pressure
• Lower your cholesterol
• Don’t smoke
• Get enough exercise
- Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Each time your heart beats, it pumps out blood into the arteries. Your blood pressure is highest when your heart beats, pumping the blood. This is called systolic pressure. When your heart is at rest, between beats, your blood pressure falls. This is the diastolic pressure.
Your blood pressure reading uses these two numbers, the systolic and diastolic pressures. Usually they are written one above or before the other. A reading of:
• 120/80 or lower is normal blood pressure
• 140/90 or higher is high blood pressure
• 120 and 139 for the top number, or between 80 and 89 for the bottom number is prehypertension
High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure. You can control high blood pressure through healthy lifestyle habits and taking medicines, if needed.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in all parts of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if you have too much in your blood, it can stick to the walls of your arteries. This is called plaque. Plaque can narrow your arteries or even block them.
High levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of heart disease. Your cholesterol levels tend to rise as you get older. There are usually no signs or symptoms that you have high blood cholesterol, but it can be detected with a blood test. You are likely to have high cholesterol if members of your family have it, if you are overweight or if you eat a lot of fatty foods.
You can lower your cholesterol by exercising more and eating more fruits and vegetables. You also may need to take medicine to lower your cholesterol.