According to the Men's Health Network, lack of awareness, poor health education, and unhealthy work and personal lifestyle choices (for example, smoking and/or drinking) are all factors that contribute to a steady deterioration of the well-being of American men. Review these leading men’s health issues and keep in mind that you or a loved one could be at risk for one or more of these problems. Visit a doctor to evaluate your health and risk. Keeping ahead of these serious (and even fatal) issues can help you live a longer, healthier, and happier life.
1. Heart disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S., claiming 1 in every 4 male lives. Heart disease can come in many forms, all of which can lead to serious, even fatal, complications if left undetected or untreated. Men are at greater risk for heart issues than women—between 70 and 89% of sudden cardiac events occur in men, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
2. Respiratory diseases
Respiratory diseases often start out innocently enough, but can lead to serious problems breathing and functioning. Respiratory diseases include things like lung cancer, emphysema, and COPD. As reported by the American Lung Association, the number of men diagnosed with lung cancer goes up every year. Smoking still remains the leading cause of lung cancer.
3. Unhealthy alcohol consumption
Men face higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women. They are also binge drink more than women and are more prone to aggressive and violent outbursts after drinking. In addition, alcohol consumption increases your risk for mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon cancers, as well as interferes with testicular function and hormone production.
4. Depression and suicide
Men and women have roughly the same likelihood to have depression, but men are much less likely to seek professional help than women. Perhaps as a result, the suicide rate for men is 3.5 times higher than it is for women. In 2015, 7 out of 10 suicides were male.
- Some ways to combat depression include regular exercise, creative expression (such as journaling), open communication with friends and family, and professional help, either in the form of therapy, counseling, medicine, or a combination approach.
- If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person, follow these guidelines:
- If you think someone you love or you yourself might be considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
- Call 911 (or a local emergency number).
- Stay with the person until help arrives. Do not leave them alone at this time.
- Remove any weapons (guns, knives, etc.) or things that might be used to cause harm (i.e. medications).
- Listen to them. Do not judge, argue, threaten, or yell.
5. Unintentional injuries and accidents
Unintentional injuries can come from anywhere in life, from swimming in the ocean to setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July to working a higher-risk or physical job. However, one of the most active sources of unintentional injury comes from simply driving a car. Simple precautions, like wearing the proper safety gear at your job or driving extra cautiously, may save the lives of yourself and others.
Along with the usual complications that come along with diabetes, like nerve and kidney damage, heart disease and stroke, and vision problems, diabetes presents unique issues for men. These issues include greater risk for impotence and lower testosterone levels, which brings in a whole new slew of health problems. The best way to prevent and control diabetes is eating healthy and getting adequate exercise.
7. Influenza and pnemonia
Other men’s health issues that compromise immune systems, like COPD, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, AIDS, and cancer can make men particularly susceptible to catching influenza and pneumonia. Men are 25% more likely to die from these diseases than women. Luckily, there are vaccines for both infections—the American Lung Association recommends these vaccinations particularly for men over 65.
8. Skin cancer
Skin cancer is right behind heart disease as the second highest cause of death in American men. Male skin cancer deaths more than double female skin cancer deaths, and of those male deaths, 60% were white men over the age of 50. The higher male risk for skin cancer can likely be attributed to more frequent sun exposure, less regular, proper skin care, and fewer visits to the doctor. You can lower your risk of contracting skin cancer by limiting your skin’s exposure to the sun (through wearing sunscreen or long layers), whose harmful UV rays contribute to cancer formation over time.
For men who have sexual relations with other men, HIV/AIDS is a particularly potent issue. Cases of new HIV infections are on the rise among gay and bisexual men, according to CDC data analysis. As of 2010, men account for 76% of people infected with HIV, also according to the CDC. Men who are infected with HIV might not even realize it at first, as initial symptoms may appear to be those of a simple cold or the flu. It is important to keep sexual health visits frequent, and to keep STI prevention, testing, and treatment in mind when you engage with new partners.
10. Liver disease
As men have higher levels of alcohol and tobacco use, they are also more likely to develop liver diseases, like cirrhosis, liver cancer, and alcoholic liver disease. In addition, men who engage in sexual contact with other men have an increased risk of contracting viral hepatitis B, which affects the liver’s ability to function. Regular screening should be a part of every healthy man’s medical schedule.
So, what can you do?
After hearing about all these health issues, what can you do to stay healthy and (hopefully) avoid them? The folks over at the Mayo Clinic have some ideas:
- Start by looking at your lifestyle. Cutting out unhealthy lifestyle choices and replacing them with healthy habits can drastically improve your health. Here are a few lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk for some of these 10 common men’s health issues:Secondly, don’t avoid going to the doctor. Even if it seems excessive or unnecessary to go to regular checkups with your doctor, they are critical to maintaining health and especially in identifying health complications before they blow up.Secondly, don't avoid going to the doctor. Even if it seems excessive or unnecessary to go to regular checkups, they are critical to maintaining health and especially in identifying health complications before they blow up.
- Don’t smoke
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Limit alcohol intake
- Manage your stress
- Don’t forget to take common safety precautions in your everyday life, like wearing a seatbelt and using protective gear when operating power tools.
- Make sure your mental health is taken care of. Depression is often treatable and isn’t something that should be ignored. Consult with a doctor if you think you or a loved one may be depressed.