As men age, their specific health needs change, adding the need for more regular check-ups and screenings. As a women’s health expert, my patients often ask me about the health of the men in their lives. Below is a list of questions that I always recommend that men should ask about their health
1. What kinds of signs and symptoms should I pay attention to and see a health care provider about?
- Unexplained weight loss greater than 10 pounds
- Feeling pain without any obvious reason
- Chest pain with any kind of exertion or exercise
- Swelling or lumps in the testicles, neck, armpits, groin or breast
- Prolonged fever
- Exhaustion and fatigue not related to activities
- Indigestion and/or difficulty swallowing
- Blood from any orifice
- Problems urinating
- Changes in a mole and/or strange white patches in the mouth
2. What do I need to know about sex?
• Despite what you’ve heard, as long as you’re healthy, sex won’t kill you
• It’s normal for men over 50 to have some difficulty having and maintaining an erection, especially if you’re on medications for high blood pressure or diabetes.
• It’s normal to notice that your sexual experiences are different now than they were in your 20’s.
3. What are the most important tests I need to have?
Men, being the hunters not the gatherers like to get everything done all at once! Now that you’ve decided to see a health care provider, maximize your time and get your health screening tests done or arranged so you can get back to your life.
• Cholesterol and lipid testing – this is important at every age and especially if you have a family history of someone having a heart attack before age 50.
• Blood pressure – Look, if you live in Silicon Valley, chances are you’re dealing with a lot of stress, so get your blood pressure checked. High blood pressure that’s left undiagnosed and untreated can lead to kidney problems (yes, that means dialysis) and blindness, also trouble with #2 (sex!).
• Diabetes screening – Many men have gained a few pounds since their 20’s, which puts them at risk for diabetes, which can lead to a host of other issues. Get your blood sugar tested to see where you stand.
• Colonoscopy – Most men I know have to be dragged kicking and screaming to schedule this important screening test for colon cancer, and yet virtually ALL of them have said afterwards, “It wasn’t bad at all, I slept through it.” So don’t wait and get your colonoscopy at 50 or earlier if you have a family history.
• Prostate screening – Guideline for prostate screening have recently changed, so ask your doctor about your potential risk for prostate cancer, and which tests are recommended for you.
• Eyes & Ears – What did you say? Where are my glasses? If you find yourself uttering this to your family and friends, then it’s time to get your eyes examined and your hearing tested.
4. Is snoring bad for you?
Though many people think that snoring is a sign of good restful and deep sleep, the real truth is that snoring is often a sign of a sleep disorder. Men who snore often have sleep apnea, have fatigue during the day and are at risk for sudden heart attack.
The Men’s Health Program at El Camino Hospital Los Gatos was created just for men and their specific health needs. For more information, or to be referred to a specialist in the program, visit this link or call 800-216-5556.
Disclosure: I am working with El Camino Hospital to help increase awareness of health issues, concerns and how to access state of the art, innovative care in Silicon Valley.