This post was originally published on Michigan Chronicle

By Jnathan

Many men struggle to take care of themselves, skipping medical checkups and screenings than can ensure they live longer, healthier lives. Men who don’t take their mental and physical health seriously may develop serious health issues.

It’s likely a key reason for what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the “medical gender gap,” with men dying about five years earlier on average.

Men can start by setting fresh health goals and prioritizing prevention such as eating better and kicking bad habits such as smoking.

Take these steps to avoid common men’s health issues at any age:

  1. Heart Disease
    More men die of heart disease than any other cause of death. That’s why managing health is so important. Reduce or stop smoking and eat a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables with less fatty foods and meat. Stay active, reduce stress and take medications as your healthcare provider instructs.

Additionally, get regular checkups and screenings or tests such as blood pressure and cholesterol. That can help discover heart problems before they become more serious such as a heart attack or stroke.

  • Cancer
    Cancer is the second-leading cause of death among American men, the CDC reports. Common cancers in men include skin, prostate, colorectal and lung cancers. Healthcare providers suggest combining a healthy lifestyle and regular screenings to keep these cancers at bay. Simple actions like wearing sunscreen, limiting processed or red meat, quitting smoking and talking to your provider about testing can all go a long way toward reducing your cancer risk.
  • Diabetes
    When compared to women, men have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes. One reason is men have a more belly fat, which can increase the risk of this common disease. Managing your weight and increasing exercise can help reduce this risk. It’s also helpful to know your risk for prediabetes. Take this prediabetes risk test from the CDC to get started.
  • Erectile Dysfunction
    Erectile dysfunction, the difficulty or inability to have an erection, is common in men. While it can begin as early as the 20s, the likelihood of experiencing ED increases with age. But it doesn’t mean it has to impact your sex life. It’s important to get this checked out by a doctor because it can be a signal for an impending heart attack or another serious health issue such as heart disease or high blood pressure.
  • HPV and other STIs
    As the most common sexually transmitted infection, human papillomavirus (HPV) often resolves on its own. Still, some men with HPV can develop certain health problems such as penile cancer or genital warts from the infection. HPV vaccines can help prevent infection, but they will likely be most beneficial before a person is 26. Condoms are also an important measure to prevent HPV and other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Low Testosterone
    Testosterone levels begin declining in a man’s thirties, but if that natural decline causes unwelcome symptoms like low sex drive or trouble concentrating, ask your doctor whether you need a blood test to check your hormone levels. Your provider can help diagnose any underlying issues that may be causing the “low-T” and discuss options like testosterone replacement therapy.
  • Depression
    Depression can go undiagnosed in men because some men don’t realize they’re depressed. Men sometimes experience depression as anger or irritability instead of sadness. They’re also more likely to ignore their feelings. If you suspect you are suffering from depression, take the first step by talking with your doctor, who can suggest options to help.
  • COVID-19
    COVID-19 can hit men harder than women. Research has found that men who contract the disease have a higher risk of hospital interventions and death. Now that COVID-19 vaccines are more readily available, getting vaccinated and staying up to date on booster shots can help prevent the risk of infection.

No matter what health issues you might face, you can take command of your well-being by taking preventive and proactive steps today. Take care of your body inside and out and consider your doctor a partner in your healthcare. They can guide you toward recommended tests, answer any questions you may have and put you on a path to better health.

To find a doctor through The Wellness Plan Medical Centers, visit wellplan.com or call 313-875-5220.