Men are more likely to die earlier than women. As a group, they are exposed to more unintentional injuries and accidents. Men are also more prone to medical complications associated with smoking and heavy drinking. Although men are more exposed to hazardous work environments and are victims of some serious health conditions, research shows that a good deal of health campaigns focus more on women’s health and wellbeing. To change this, healthcare professionals like those at Centro Medico Latino in Charlotte, NC want to create more awareness around the need for healthcare for men.
Healthcare for Men FAQs: What Are the Top Men’s Health Issues?
Heart disease takes various forms. All forms of heart disease can cause serious, fatal complications if not detected early enough. According to the American Heart Association, more than a third of adult men in America have some form of cardiovascular disease. African-American men are hit hardest by heart disease, registering 100,000 more deaths than Caucasian men.
Additionally, 3 million men suffer from a stroke in the United States. The American Heart Association reports that high blood pressure is a common health issue among men aged 45 and below. Some factors that increase your risk of suffering from heart disease include high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and smoking.
Human beings have been drinking for thousands of years. However, the relationship between humans and alcohol can be a rocky one. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that men are the biggest victims of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations.
Excessive consumption of alcohol increases the risk of developing alcohol use disorder. Men who are heavy drinkers are more susceptible to medical conditions such as cancer of liver, throat, mouth, esophagus, and colon. Alcohol use also affects hormone production and testicular function, exposing the user to other complications, such as impotence and infertility. While it is not news that more men commit suicide than women, data from the CDC shows most male victims commit suicide while drunk.
Depression and Suicide
According to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), over 6 million men are diagnosed with depressive disorders, including suicidal thoughts, each year. Although reports show more men commit suicide than women, some reports show women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and suicidal thoughts than men.
To explain the higher suicide rates among men despite the fact that more women are diagnosed with depression, experts suggest that men’s suicide attempts are generally more successful than women’s. This is a pressing issue in healthcare for men, but there are a few ways of combating depression:
- Regular exercise
- Writing your thoughts in a journal or on a piece of paper
- Having open conversations with family and friends
- Seeking professional help
You can prevent a suicide attempt by:
- Calling 911 or your local emergency number
- Staying with the person until help arrives
- Putting away any knives, guns, medications, or other objects that can cause harm
- Listening without judging, yelling, arguing, or threatening the person
Respiratory Diseases and COPD
Many men suffering from respiratory diseases say their first notable symptom was an innocent smoker’s cough. With time, the innocent smoker’s cough develops into life-threatening complications, such as emphysema, lung cancer, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to the CDC, COPD, a chronic lower respiratory disease, ranks third among the leading causes of death in the United States. It kills over 3 million people in the world each year, putting 16 million Americans in the hospital annually.
If not detected early enough, COPD can cause respiratory problems, lung damage, and heart failure. Data from the American Lung Association shows that the number of men who develop lung cancer increases every year. While hazardous working conditions, such as prolonged exposure to asbestos, increase the risk of getting lung cancer, smoking remains the biggest risk factor.
The liver is one of the most important organs in your body. It helps the body perform key functions, such as digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. It also detoxifies your body by getting rid of harmful substances (toxins). Liver disease is a general term for conditions like:
- Liver cancer
- Autoimmune or genetic liver diseases
- Viral hepatitis
- Bile duct cancer
- Alcoholic liver disease
Unhealthy personal habits, such as tobacco use and excessive consumption of alcohol, make you more vulnerable to liver disease.
Unintentional Injuries and Accidents
According to the CDC, unintentional injuries are a major cause of death among men, making them one of the issues in healthcare for men. Some of the mishaps classified as unintentional injuries include traumatic brain injuries, drowning, and fireworks-related accidents.
In 2006, the number of male drivers and passengers aged between 15 to 19 who died in road accidents was twice that of females. In the same year, there were 5524 reported cases of fatal occupational injuries, with male workers accounting for 92% of the fatalities.
Diabetes causes several health complications among men. If left untreated, it can lead to heart disease and stroke, nerve and kidney damage, and vision problems or blindness. Men suffering from diabetes also experience a drop in testosterone levels, which can lead to a low sex drive and erectile dysfunction. Men suffering from low testosterone are also more prone to depression and anxiety.
To control diabetes, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) advises men to adopt a healthier diet and to exercise regularly. Besides improving your lifestyle choices, you should also visit a doctor for periodic screenings, especially if there is a history of diabetes in your family.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Data from the Skin Cancer Foundation shows that men accounted for 75% of all the melanoma deaths in 2013. Of these deaths, 60% were men aged 50 and above. If not treated at an early stage, melanoma can spread rapidly to other organs of the body. To reduce your susceptibility to skin cancer, you should wear:
- Sunscreen when outdoors
- Long sleeves and pants
- Hats with wide brims
Additionally, you can reduce your vulnerability to skin cancer by avoiding exposure to UV light sources, including sunlamps and tanning beds.
Influenza and Pneumonia
Influenza and pneumonia is a major issue in healthcare for men. Men with a compromised immune system are more vulnerable to influenza and pneumonia. Some conditions that can interfere with your immune system include:
- Congestive heart failure
- Sickle cell anemia
According to the American Lung Association, men are 25% more likely to die from influenza and pneumococcal infection than women. The association recommends vaccination as the most effective method of preventing influenza and pneumonia.
Many men are unaware of osteoporosis because it is a medical conditional that was previously associated with women: especially those in menopause. However, the condition is attracting the attention of male healthcare experts because it poses a significant threat to millions of men in the U.S. Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the skeleton and other bones in the body, making men more vulnerable to bone fractures and other conditions that affect the bones.
Despite these risks, many men ignore the severity of the disease and fail to recognize it as a threat to their independence and mobility. To make matters worse, men suffering from osteoporosis show no symptoms until a fracture occurs. Several factors including old age, low testosterone, alcohol abuse, smoking, inactivity, hypercalciuria, gastrointestinal disease, and exposure glucocorticoid medications can cause osteoporosis.
Another key issue in healthcare for men is their reproductive health. Until recently, the conversation about reproductive health focused mainly on women. However, reproductive health is an important part of men’s general health and wellbeing.
Healthcare professionals are encouraging discussions about reproductive issues, such as infertility and contraception, among men. They aim to protect men’s reproductive health by promoting effective contraception, creating awareness around sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and helping men preserve their fertility.
Low testosterone (Low T) is another issue in healthcare for men that is closely related to their reproductive health and overall wellbeing. Testosterone is the most vital male sex hormone. It plays a key role in male characteristics, such as promoting the growth and production of pubic, facial, and body hair. It also influences other body functions, including sperm production, maintaining your sex drive, and promoting bone and muscle health. Men who suffer from Low T experience:
- Low sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low sperm count
- Enlarged breasts
If left untreated for a long time, Low T can lead to loss of body hair, muscle, and bone mass. Further complications can include osteoporosis, mood changes, fatigue, loss of concentration, and reduced testes and penis size. Fortunately, testosterone replacement therapy (TRP) offers men relief from Low T. The therapy can be administered in several forms depending on the patient’s preferences. Available options include patches, gels, and injections.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a sensitive issue in healthcare for men. Men with ED have a problem achieving and maintaining an erection. There have been over 18 million cases of ED in the United States alone. While it is normal for men to experience ED every once in a while, regular occurrences of ED should be a red flag.
Besides affecting your sex life, regular ED could be a symptom of underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. Erection dysfunction can be caused by the following:
- Low T
- Heart disease and high cholesterol
- Lifestyle choices
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Mental health issues
- Certain medications
- Prostate inflammation and prostate cancer
There are several remedies available for ED, depending on the cause.
HIV and AIDS
Unfortunately, many men who contract HIV live without knowing they are infected because one can easily confuse the initial symptoms with those of the flu or a cold. In 2010, the CDC reported that men made up 76% of all HIV infections in the United States. The CDC states that men who have sexual relations with other men account for the majority of new and existing HIV cases.
Let’s Take Male Health Seriously
Men have a lower life expectancy than women. Experts believe that this difference arises from several factors, including inadequate access to information that addresses men’s unique health issues, prolonged exposure to dangerous working conditions, lack of support from healthcare providers, and the societal pressure to “take it like a man” instead of seeking help.
When these factors combine, they put men at a disadvantaged position, making them a target for otherwise easily preventable and manageable health conditions. Fortunately, some healthcare providers are reaching out to them in an effort to improve healthcare for men. For more information on how to get and stay healthy and access the best possible healthcare, contact Centro Medico Latino in Charlotte, NC.