The COVID-19 pandemic that has turned our world upside down emphasizes
the need for all of us to safeguard our health. During June, designated
as national Men’s Health Month, awareness turns to men and boys
to practice healthy living decisions such as exercising, eating nutritiously
and practicing preventive medicine.
Men are dying an average of five years younger than women are, and lead
in nine of the ten top causes of death in the United States. Statistics
from the Men’s Health Network show that in Louisiana the average
male life expectancy is 72.7 years and 81.2 years for females. In Louisiana,
cancer and cardiovascular disease are leading causes of death for males
and females of all races. National Cancer Institute data indicates that
compared to the national average, males in Louisiana are at higher risk
to die from prostate cancer
Why the Disparity?
The biggest threat to men’s longevity may be a lack of awareness
of their own health needs. According to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), men are less likely to have regular contact with
a doctor over their lifetime and are half as likely as women to seek preventive
Men also tend to ignore symptoms or delay seeking medical care when they
are sick or in pain. Their devotion to work may contribute to this behavior,
as CDC studies show they are less likely than women to take off work for
What Should Men Do?
Overall, medical professionals recommend that men start taking better care
of themselves and visit health care providers regularly. These visits
can help to avoid problems in the future. For example, the only way to
detect high blood pressure is to check it regularly. Likewise, there may
be no early symptoms for high blood sugar or high cholesterol levels.
However, a doctor can check for these with a simple blood test.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) encourages men ages 40 to 64 to
visit a provider regularly, even if they feel healthy, for
- Routine screenings;
- Assessing medical risks;
- Healthy lifestyle information;
- Updating vaccinations;
- Getting to know the provider better in case of illness.
At age 50 men should also begin screenings for colorectal cancer, prostate
cancer and osteoporosis. The NIH also recommends annual lung cancer screenings
for men ages 55 to 80 who are long-term smokers or may have quit within
the past 15 years.
Other general health reminders include:
- Annual flu shot;
- Pneumonia vaccine starting at age 65;
- Shingles vaccine after age 50;
- Tetanus-diphtheria (Tdap) booster every 10 years;
- Annual or bi-annual dental exam;
- Regular eye exams.
For more information on health and wellness, contact Thibodaux Regional
Wellness Education Center, 985.493.4765.