June is Men’s Health Month — a perfect reminder for men to make wellness a priority. Many men take care of their health, but additional work is needed to keep more men healthy.
Some of the statistics on men’s health are alarming. For example, life expectancy from birth for men in the U.S. is 76.2 years; for women, it’s 81.2 years. In addition, more than 40% of men aged 20 and over are obese and 12% of men aged 18 or over are in fair or poor health. Men are less likely to seek help for mental health difficulties, with women seeking mental health support 1.6 times more compared to men in a 12-month period across the U.S. Men are also 1.8 times more likely to take their own lives compared to women.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to some unfortunate statistics, including a decline in U.S. adults seeking health care and generally higher levels of stress. These statistics are especially concerning for men who have been shown to seek health care, and specifically mental health care services, less frequently than women.
These statistics may be worrisome for men and their loved ones, but many of the health risks men face can help be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and getting recommended and timely preventive health screenings.
Men’s Health Month is a reminder for men to take charge of their health. I know first-hand what it takes to help men of all ages get and stay healthy. It’s what I do every day in my practice as a primary care physician at 4C Medical Group in Sun City.
Regardless of gender, the following general health advice is important. Regular physical activity can help control weight, reduce risks of developing heart disease and some cancers, and can improve overall mental health and mood. Another important priority is nutrition. It’s important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, and limit foods and drinks high in sugar, salt, saturated fat and alcohol.
There are other important reminders for men. Manage any chronic health conditions and follow treatment plans. In addition, work with a doctor to get a full understanding of the purpose and side effects of the prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and supplements that you may take. Don’t overlook the importance of using sunscreen. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States.
It’s also important for men and those close to them to be aware of the warning signs of any mental health difficulties. If you have mild symptoms that have lasted for less than two weeks such as trouble sleeping or feeling down, engaging in self-care activities can be a good start. If symptoms are severe, persistent or are worsening, talk to your health care provider. Symptoms may include:
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of death, suicide or self-harm, seek help right away. To talk with a trained counselor, you may call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline any time at 1-800-273-8255. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 — or go to the closest emergency room.
Men’s National Health Month is a reminder for men to take a proactive approach to their health. If you or the men in your life are not making positive health choices, now is the perfect time to take charge of your health.
Editor’s note: Dr. Rajesh Bhakta is associate medical director at 4C Medical Group. There is a 4C Medical Group Clinic in Mesa in Mountain Vista Medical Center, 10238 E. Hampton Ave. Suite No. 406.