Listen up, ladies. This article is for the man you love but it's also for you. Study after study has shown that men are less likely to take good care of their health than women are and that they are also less likely to heed symptoms and get annual check-ups. A corollary of those trends is that women are typically the family watchdogs when it comes to making sure that not only the kids but also the man of the house stay healthy.
Hint: Print out this article and leave it on the nightstand on his side of the bed. He just might sneak a read and get smarter about wellness. And even if he doesn't start taking charge, you'll know how to nudge him. Oh, and our expert for the advice you're about to read, Marie Savard, M.D., is not only Medical Contributor to "Good Morning America" and the author most recently of "Ask Dr. Marie," but she also had a private practice for many years that included male patients. "When I was in medical school, I decided to become an internist—a family doctor who could take care of both men and women," she says. "I wanted to focus on women’s health down the road, but I felt that it was very important for me to understand men's needs because women are so often involved in men's care."
Dr. Marie recommends that every man should have the following tests:
A physical every three to five years including:
Examination of the skin over the entire body
Blood pressure check
Height, weight, and waist circumference. (The ideal waist circumference for men is less than thirty-seven inches or at least under forty inches. Waist size is considered the new vital sign along with temperature, pulse, and blood pressure, and it's especially important for men because they are at risk for heart disease if they carry a lot of belly fat.)
Mental health assessment
Cardiovascular risk assessmant
A testicular exam annually and an awareness of the symptoms of testicular cancer. This cancer is rare but it most often strikes males between the ages of 15 and 35. Very often, men find the disease themselves. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms can include:
• A lump or enlargement in either testicle
• A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
• A dull ache in the abdomen or groin
• A sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum
• Pain or discomfort in a testicle or the scrotum
• Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts
• Unexplained fatigue or a general feeling of not being well
The cancer usually affects only one testicle and it is highly treatable especially if it is caught early.
Dental exam every six months, not just for the teeth but also because periodontal disease can increase the risk of heart disease and of tonsillar cancer from an HPV infection.
Starting at age 40 if prostate cancer runs in the family, or at 50 if it doesn't, a prostate exam and PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing. Recent clinical trials have shown that PSA testing doesn't save lives but the jury is still out on this issue. Many doctors -- and many men -- believe that safe is better than sorry. You and your husband should discuss this issue with your physician. Normal PSA ranges are:
• Men below age 50: PSA less than 2.5
• Men 50 - 59 years: PSA level less than 3.5
• Men 60 - 69 years: PSA level less than 4.5
• Men older than 70 years: PSA level less than 6.5
Starting at 50, a colonoscopy every ten years and stool occult blood test every year as well as a baseline electrocardiogram (EKG).
Starting at 60, a blood test for vitamin D level and bone density if high risk. Surprise! Men can get osteoporosis just as women can. Prostate cancer survivors and men on cortisone are especially prone to this condition.
In addition, everyone should have the following immunizations:
Tetanus and diphtheria every ten years.
Pertussis once as an adult as a booster because Pertussis (whooping cough) is on the rise.
Flu shot annually to protect against to new strains, especially if you're over 50.
HPV vaccination, a series of three shots over six months for boys before they're sexually active to protect against genital warts and possibly throat, anal, and penile cancers. The FDA has only approved of this vaccine for males and females ages 9 to 26.
Pneumonia vaccine is you're over sixty-five, once only.
Shingles vaccine if you're over 60, once only.
Meningitis vaccine, usually for young people but get the vaccine at any age if you're going to work somewhere such as a college dorm or a camp where you would be exposed to the bacteria.
Please visit Dr. Marie's site at www.drsavard.com
Other articles by Dr. Marie on ThirdAge:
Dr. Marie's Stay-Well Checklist for Women
Straight Talk About Aphrodisiacs
Rules for a Healthy Hospital Stay
How to Get the Most Out of Your Hospital Visit
Ten Health Symptoms You Should Never Ignore