Health Risks for Men According to their Age
It would seem that Australian men are not very good at looking after their health. It is possibly a similar situation in other countries as well – men being somewhat similar all over the globe! Only 5% of Australian men eat the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables and around two-thirds of adult males are overweight or obese. For some men, the only exercise they get is searching for the remote control to the television! Unfortunately while most Aussie men love their sport, being a spectator is as close as they get to it.
The life expectancy of Australian males is 79 which is high by world standards but there is still room for improvement. Australian men visit their GP less often than women and only 40% discuss health issues with health professionals.
So what are these risks for men and what can be done about them?
20 to 30 year olds
For the 20 to 30 age group, the main problems are alcohol and drug abuse, smoking, infertility, sexually transmitted disease (SIDs), mental illness and suicide. Between 20 and 30, it is hard for virile young males to take time to consider where they'll be in another twenty to thirty years. Many believe they are invincible and refuse to contemplate life past the next party. But much can be done to lessen the likelihood of problems in later life by taking a few simple precautions earlier in life.
Don't smoke, drink in moderation, keep your weight down and stay active. It isn't strange that the same advice comes up in every health article written? It's always – don't smoke, drink in moderation, keep your weight down and stay active. If men (and women) could heed this advice, our hospitals wouldn't be overcrowded and the health system groaning trying to keep pace with the way we abuse our bodies.
But I digress...
Young men with a family history of high blood pressure and/or heart problems should have annual check-ups. Monthly self-examination of the testicles is recommended. Any signs of hardness or lumpiness indicate the need for an ultrasound as there may be fertility issues lurking. STIs may show as ulceration or rashes on the skin of the penis. Other signs that need checking are painful ejaculation and urethral discharge.
The highest incidence of mental health problems occurs in young males from late teens to early 20s. Seventy-five percent of early signs of schizophrenia manifest by the mid 20s. Young men trying to establish a place for themselves in the wider society, in employment, relationships and as parents are under a lot of pressure. This can result in anxiety and depression issues.
As for being overweight , once fat deposits have been laid down, it becomes more and more difficult as each year goes by to get rid of excess poundage. Keeping trim before the onset of middle age is of great benefit healthwise.
40 to 50 year olds
The main problems during this period of life are heart disease, diabetes, depression, alcohol use, smoking, cancers of the bowel, skin, bladder and kidney. Men over 45 with high blood pressure, heightened cholesterol and/or overweight should be checked for diabetes. From the age of 50, there is greater risk of bowel and prostate cancer. Bowel cancer may manifest as rectal bleeding and changes in bowel habits, prostate cancer in difficulty urinating and increased frequency.
In Australia, bowel screenings are free for men aged 50, 55 and 65 but after 50, screening is recommended every two years. Consult your GP about the necessity for a prostate test. For smokers, bladder and kidney cancer may be an issue. Blood in the urine is a sign to see your doctor without delay. Heart disease becomes a greater threat as does heart attacks. Get your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar checked and follow up every five years if there are no danger signs. Unexplained chest pain and breathlessness are the two main symptoms of a heart attack. Skin cancers become more common, particularly as the Australian climate lures people to spend so much time outdoors. Any changes in skin colour and/or texture are good enough reasons for being checked.
Problematic drinking and depression are often brought on in this age group. Redundancy, little contact with older children, stuck in an unfulfilling job, broken relationships – all can impact on a person's mental health. Middle-aged men have a relatively high risk of suicide.
60 years plus
The likely problems are the same as for the middle-aged male. Diabetes becomes more common, indicated by excessive thirst, increased urination, skin infections and fatigue. It is now possible to control diabetes really well although it may mean major lifestyle changes including losing weight and eating well. Prostate, bowel and skin cancers continue to lurk so regular checks are important. Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) becomes more common and increases the risk of a stroke. This can be managed quite well with medication. The risk of heart problems can be minimised by keeping healthy. The middle-aged are more likely to have a sudden cardiac event whereas for older men, impaired heart function is more likely to be the result of an accumulation of problems.
Don't forget – don't smoke, drink in moderation, lose weight and stay active.