It’s a new year soon, which means that we all need to prioritise our health. Regular check-ups and medical screenings can reduce one’s risk of developing a life-threatening disease or condition as an early diagnosis will lead to an effective treatment plan and a higher recovery rate. Unfortunately, studies have determined that men often don’t take their health as seriously as they should, which is why Bloom Financial Services, along with their partner, Momentum Health4Me, have taken this opportunity to discuss the most common men’s health issues. Find out what you should be concerned about
The most common medical issues affecting men’s health
- Cancer. The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), confirms that cancer is a leading cause of death amongst men with prostate cancer being the most common type affecting men’s health on a global scale. Colorectal cancer, lung cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, bladder cancer and testicular cancer are also prevalent amongst men.
Men are advised to go for prostate screening tests from the age of 40 as this will result in early detection and an effective treatment plan. The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland located between the bladder and the penis. It’s responsible for producing seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm. If left untreated, prostate cancer can spread very quickly throughout the body, which is the reason why the routine prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) is recommended. There are different age recommendations depending on your risk factor. The tests should be conducted at the following stages of a man’s life:
- Annually from the age of 40 for those are deemed a high risk of developing prostate cancer. In other words, they have a family history of the disease.
- Annually from the age of 45 for those who are at moderate risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Once every two years, from the age of 50 regardless of your risk factor.
- Heart Disease, or cardiovascular disease, is an umbrella term used to describe diseases and conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. The Heart & Stroke Foundation cites CVD as one of the leading causes of death after HIV/AIDS in South Africa. There are various types of cardiovascular diseases affecting men’s health and the risk factors associated with these are include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking and high cholesterol levels. Some of the most common heart disease complications affecting men are:
- Angina. This is a symptom of coronary artery disease characterised by severe chest pain because there is an insufficient amount of blood flow to the heart. The pain, which is sharp and stabbing, is typically felt in the chest area.
- Heart attack. This is a life-threatening medical emergency that occurs when the heart becomes starved of oxygen because it’s cut off from the body’s blood supply. A heart attack is caused by narrowed arteries or a blood clot that blocks the blood flow to the heart.
- Abnormal heart rhythm. This can be too fast (tachycardia), or too slow (bradycardia) or simply be irregular. Symptoms associated with arrhythmia include palpitations, feeling faint, light-headed or dizzy.
- Cardiac arrest. This is when one’s heart stops beating, which typically occurs when a person has suffered a heart attack.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This is a chronic lung condition that affects one’s ability to breathe properly. The condition is usually caused by an extensive smoking habit and can result in two types of conditions:
- Emphysema. Damage is caused to the alveoli in the lung walls, which then makes the absorption of oxygen difficult. This leaves one with constant shortness of breath.
- Chronic bronchitis. With the loss of cilia (hair-like fibres that line your bronchial tubes), the body experiences difficulty moving mucous out, which will leave the patient with a persistent cough.
Some symptoms associated with COPD include a lingering cough, mucous, shortness of breath, wheezing, tightness in the chest area, frequent colds and flu, fatigue and recurring respiratory infections. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can also lead to other health complications, like heart disease, high blood pressure and lung cancer.
- Mental health issues. According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, there are approximately 17 million South Africans suffering from mental health issues. Depression and suicide rates amongst men are on the rise with the World Health Organisation revealing that the annual global suicide rate is statistically higher for men than it is for women. Anxiety, mental illness, social isolation, trauma and substance abuse are just some of the factors that can play a part in depression and suicide. Men suffering from mental health issues are encouraged to seek health from support groups or from professional mental health practitioners.
- Diabetes. Although this is quite a common condition that affects both men and women of all ages, medical studies have revealed that men are more biologically susceptible to developing Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. This means that the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, which is the hormone required to regulate your body’s sugar levels. Type 2 Diabetes is caused by too much sugar in one’s blood, which occurs when the body’s ability to regulate the sugar levels is disturbed. This is linked to excess fat found in certain organs, like the liver and muscles. When men reach middle age, they are more likely to gain weight around their abdomen and in their liver, which makes them at a greater risk for developing this disease.
- Alcoholism. Excessive alcohol consumption can take a heavy toll on one’s physical and mental well-being. Men are more likely to suffer from alcohol-related health complications, like alcoholism and addiction, liver damage, heart disease, sexual health complications, and brain problems because they consume more alcohol than women. Health practitioners strongly advise following the recommended daily allowance and cutting back on consumption should anyone develop health-related issues that are linked to alcohol consumption.
- Sexual and reproductive problems. Sexual health problems amongst men are more common than one would imagine but there is a lot of stigma and embarrassment attached to this particular health concern, so many men don’t seek out treatment. Erectile dysfunction, for instance, is a physical condition where a man is unable to keep an erection long enough to engage in sexual intercourse. The causes of which can be either physical or psychological, or both. Infertility problems, like a low sperm count, is another problem that many men can face. These problems can be addressed with medication or surgery, or with counselling.
Momentum Health4Me health tips for men
Men can start prioritising their health in 2022 with these top health tips for men.
- Follow a healthy diet plan. Include all the major food groups and limit your intake of sodium, alcohol, sugar, caffeine and saturated fats.
- Get moving. Start a regular exercise routine to get your heart pumping. Engage in 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of strenuous exercise activity every week for best results.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Find out what your ideal body mass index should be and shed those extra kilograms.
- Make smart lifestyle changes. Rid yourself of unhealthy habits. Be aware of your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Momentum Health4Me offers an annual health assessment check-up at participating pharmacies for all Health4Me Gold, Silver and Bronze health insurance members.
- Schedule those medical check-ups and screenings. Early detection means an effective treatment plan. Speak to your local GP about what you should be prioritising in the new year.
Men’s health issues: a top priority with Bloom
Bloom encourages men to be mindful of their physical and mental health by being proactive when it comes to prioritising their health. Make the time for regular medical check-ups and screenings. Get a health insurance plan that will give you access to top-quality healthcare facilities and benefits if you need ever need it. Contact our offices to speak to a trained consultant about the Health4Me medical insurance options.
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You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom Financial Services website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.