By Michael Kelber, MD
Many normally clean-shaven men have grown mustaches during November. They’re part of the annual nationwide movement known as Movember to call attention to men’s health.
Guys are the worst at proactive health care. Movember is great fun because it makes talking about men’s health a cool thing.
Men’s health is age specific
Cardiovascular health is huge for men of all ages — while cholesterol, blood pressure and prostate health become more important for men older than 40.
A controversy exists surrounding prostate health and the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test versus digital rectal exam. The PSA test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen in the blood.
The problem is many prostate cancers grow slowly. A PSA test may save the lives of some men while causing others to have unnecessary surgeries or radiation treatments.
Either way, men should discuss prostate health with their doctor in addition to watching their broader health concerns.
Many men, who society says should be tough and show little emotion, may find it difficult to admit they’re dealing with depression. Anxiety issues can also interfere with their relationships. Post-adolescent men may face anger management issues.
Because mental health can exacerbate physical health problems, it’s important not to dismiss these issues.
One of the best ways for men to deal with stress is through physical activity. How much varies by age. Men should get regular exercise three days a week, 40 minutes a day, with a heart rate of at least 120 beats per minute.
Modify sport activity
Men need to adjust their level of play as they age. Remember, what you could do at 20 might be more risky at 40. Overdoing it can lead to strained or pulled muscles, or injuries like a torn ACL or Achilles tendon.
The sound of silence
What surprises me most is how unwilling most men are to talk about health issues. That’s where the women in their lives play a critical role.
Usually it’s women who encourage men to come see me about health issues. For many men, going to the doctor is a girl thing.
Even after getting in front of me, some men will say, “I don’t have any issues.” That’s when the wife will speak up and say, “Well, what about this?”
It’s important for men to realize physicians are their friends who want to help them stay healthy.
Alcohol and drugs
Binge drinking is not good for men at any age. Most health professionals believe two drinks a day are excessive. The maximum should ideally be one per day.
For legalized marijuana, good data doesn’t exist yet. Smoke still goes into your lungs, which is never healthy. Marijuana impairs judgment even more so than alcohol. Deciding to drive while high will likely end up with getting pulled over for DUI.
The health risks connected to vaping pose another huge question mark.
Movember is more than growing a mustache. However, I keep mine year-round to show my support for men’s health.
Dr. Michael Kelber is the Family Medicine Medical Director for Salem Health Medical Clinics — and sees patients at Salem Health Medical Clinic – Edgewater. Find more information about Movember online at us.movember.com.