June has been a special month for men and their families since 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. We celebrate men and their essential role in the family and in the community. Men are husbands, fathers, sons, bosses, employees, and coworkers. June is also a great time to draw attention to the health issues that impact men and the importance of early detection, screenings, lifestyle changes, and medical attention that will improve the health and lives of those men.
For this reason, June has been designated as Men’s Health Month. According to the Men’s Health Network, the intention is “to heighten awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatments of disease among men and boys.”
Many communities will fill the month with screenings, health fairs, education, and outreach events designed to encourage men to seek regular medical care and early treatment of disease and injuries. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, statics show that getting some men to make their health a priority is not a simple matter. Doctor visits for annual exams and preventative medicine are 100% higher for women than men. This reluctance to seek regular medical attention may contribute to the fact that men have higher rates of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Men are two times more likely to have hearing loss and four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Dr. Kevin Billups of John Hopkins Medicine calls this “a crisis in men’s health. Chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and high cholesterol are causing men to die prematurely.”
As part of Men’s Health Month, the Men’s Health Network will sponsor Wear Blue on the Friday before Father’s Day. Businesses are encouraged to allow their employees to Wear Blue on that Friday. In fact, some businesses and schools that typically have a dress code for employees and students will allow the opportunity to break dress code for the day and wear blue in exchange for a donation to a men’s health organization, such as Men’s Health Network, or to a charity that promotes disease prevention.
What can women do as a mother, daughter, or wife? Men tend to be more reluctant to seek medical attention and to be forthcoming with their doctor. Women tend to pay better attention to healthy habits and research. According to Dr. David Gremillion of the Men’s Health Network, “American men live sicker and die younger than American women.” Women are in an excellent position to encourage exercise and healthy eating. A mother, daughter, or wife can be an advocate for healthy lifestyle choices, remind the men in their lives to make appointments for annual screenings, and encourage men to be more proactive in seeking medical attention rather than procrastinate.
John Hopkins Medicine lists a number of screenings necessary to men’s health and the timing of those exams. While this is a general guideline, your doctor can recommend the best timing for you. The list includes annual visits for flu and pneumococcal shots, blood pressure check, and discussions regarding depression, sleep problems, and obesity. A colonoscopy is generally recommended every 10 years starting at age 50. Men over 60 are encouraged to get the Zoster shot for shingles. Since prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, the American Cancer Society recommends screening at the age of 50.
Just as early detection and treatment has increased the life expectancy of women, the same can happen for men as they become more proactive in obtaining regular screenings, making lifestyle changes, and seeking prompt medical attention.
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