Friday, May 27, 2011

June is Men's Health Month

By Martha Hunt, MA CAMF
Health Promotion and Wellness
Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital

“Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.”

Congressman Bill Richardson (Congressional Record, H3905-H3906, May 24, 1994). This statement and resulting legislation led to the beginning of Men’s Health Awareness. There is a silent crisis in men’s health due to a lack of awareness, poor health education, and culturally induced behavior patterns in men’s work and personal lives.

As a result, men are not seeking and getting the preventive health care that they need.

As a consequence of this, men are living approximately five years less than women. Improving men's health is not limited to the doctor's office or hospital - it starts at home with men taking steps to live safer and healthier lives.

In fact, the leading causes of death for men in the United States are – in order - diseases of the heart, cancer, accidents (unintentional injuries), chronic lower respiratory diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, intentional self-harm (suicide), influenza and pneumonia, kidney diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn your family health history. Are there any new conditions or diseases that have occurred in your close blood relatives since your last visit to your primary care provider? If so, let your doctor or nurse know. Family history might influence your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer.

Know and understand your numbers. You may know your favorite team's stats, but what about your own health numbers? Keep track of your numbers for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body mass index (BMI). These numbers can provide a glimpse of your health status and risk for certain diseases and conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and more.

Work safely. An estimated 11,500 workers have a nonfatal work-related injury or illness every day in the US and as a result, more than half require a job transfer, work restrictions, or time away from their jobs. Get check-ups. Just because you may feel fine, that doesn't mean you don't need your annual check-ups! Unfortunately, there are certain diseases and conditions that are silent and may not have symptoms.

See your doctor or nurse for regular check-ups, and go more often if needed.

Get Vaccinated. Some adults assume that the vaccines they received as children will protect them for the rest of their lives. Immunity can begin to fade over time and as we age, we become more susceptible to serious disease caused by common infections (e.g., flu, pneumococcus). Far too many adults become ill, are disabled, and die each year from diseases that could easily have been prevented by vaccines.

Pay attention to signs and symptoms such as any discharge, excessive thirst, rash or sore on the skin, problems with urination or shortness of breath as these are only a few of the symptoms that males should pay attention to and see a doctor about if they occur. It could be a symptom for a sexually transmitted disease, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, or other conditions or diseases. If you have symptoms, be sure to see your doctor right away.

Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Moreover, insufficient sleep is responsible for motor vehicle and machinery-related accidents, causing injury and disability each year. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous - and preventable - as driving while intoxicated. Adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep per night according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Gear up properly. When playing active sports or riding a motorcycle or bike, make sure you and your family wear protective gear, such as helmets, eye protection, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads. Also, wear seat belts as a driver and a passenger each and every time you are in a vehicle.

Eat what counts. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol and choose healthy snacks.

Get physical activity. Be active for at least two and a half hours a week. Include activities that raise your breathing and heart rates and that strengthen your muscles. You don’t have to do it all at once. Spread your activity out during the week, and break it into smaller chunks of time during the day.

Be tobacco-free. Avoid all forms of tobacco and secondhand smoke. Inhaling other people’s smoke causes health problems similar to those of smokers. There is NO safe form of tobacco. Tobacco use is the leading detractor of combat fitness. Call Health Promotion and Wellness at 760-830-2814 if you are interested in quitting tobacco.

For more information on men’s health go to Men’s check list for health http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/healthymen.htm or Get dad to the doc http://www.dadtothedoc.org/.

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