We’ve all heard of a guy who’s been diagnosed with something serious, then you find out he’d been experiencing symptoms for ages but hadn’t done anything about it. Don’t be that guy. Get yourself off to the doctor the moment you notice something that doesn’t seem right.
Your health is your responsibility and you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to stay in good shape, both physically and emotionally. Let this article be the reminder you need to look after yourself and make an appointment for a health check today. Here are 8 of the most important men’s health checks not to skip.
Doctors and specialists typically recommend a range of standard tests on healthy men, to pick up on any risk factors or symptoms before they reach a point where they need more comprehensive treatment.
A dental check-up every six months is advised, and it’s not (just!) to boost the dentists’ retirement fund. Tartar naturally builds up on the surface of teeth and if not removed twice a year, can be harder to remove and cause damage to the teeth in the meantime.
Unless there are changes to vision, men should start having their eyes checked from around age 35. If there are no concerns, then a check-up every three to five years is recommended. In the meantime, if you experience any vision issues, then take yourself straight off to the optometrist for a routine check. Read more about looking after your eyes.
Once you turn 35, you should have your cholesterol levels checked every four to five years. If you’re overweight or have risk factors such as diabetes or you are a smoker, then more frequent testing is recommended. Your doctor will advise if your cholesterol is of concern and will likely suggest a healthy eating and exercise plan to follow.
When you have your blood taken for your cholesterol test, it will also be tested for your triglyceride levels. High triglycerides are an indicator of metabolic syndrome, which is associated with diabetes and heart disease.
Whenever you visit your doctor, have your blood pressure checked so a running profile of your results can be kept on file. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 or lower.
Most men wince when they hear the words ‘prostate exam’ because it can be quite confronting to think about. But it’s a simple procedure that takes just a few minutes in the doctor’s room. While wearing gloves, the doctor will insert his or her finger into your rectum and will feel around to ensure there are no irregularities.
According to the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand, the recommended age for men to have a prostate cancer test is 40. Those who have a first-degree relative with prostate cancer should be extra vigilant as their risk of the disease is greater. Talk to your doctor about the effectiveness of testing and ask if it’s time you had it done.
A simple blood test can indicate whether you are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Your doctor might request an A1C test, a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) test or an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Once you reach age 45, you should consider asking your doctor for a routine diabetes blood test.
Anyone younger who is obese, has a waist measurement of 94 cm or more, has a family history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease or is of Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic/Latino (and some other ancestry) descent, should be tested too.
Once you turn 50, you need to start thinking about being screened for colon cancer. A simple colonoscopy will take around 20 minutes for the actual procedure but you will need to follow a low-fibre diet for three days leading up to your appointment. You will be given gentle sedation and not be aware of the procedure, which is done as an outpatient in hospital.
It involves the insertion into your rectum of a colonoscope, a long, plastic, flexible tube fitted with a tiny camera and light at the end. The doctor who performs it will look for irregularities and may even be able to correct them at the same time.
The problem with men’s health is that it involves men. Men often feel they need to live up to the role of being the ‘stronger’ gender, taking care of everything and not being a ‘sook’ when they’re in pain.
It’s important to remember, however, that the human body is not infallible and it’s always better to be ahead of the game when it comes to health issues. Scheduling one of the health checks outlined above is a great place to start!