Face it gentlemen, we go through life as hard working fix it men, ready to face all the adversity life might throw our way. We arise early and retire long after sundown in order to take care of our families. We are tough and hard to kill, in our own minds. You might even still be riding the legacy of being the toughest guy on the high school wrestling team or the star quarterback, yet are beginning to feel the ill results of that former glorious life. As men, we often do not know when to slow down. We will simply refuse to listen to our wives wisdom when they tell us to take a day off and rest. We will continue to report to work even when deathly ill, that is, until we no longer can. Even if you feel healthy enough, a little planning can help you stay that way. The top threats to men’s health aren’t secrets: they’re known, common, and often preventable. Often, these threats will jump up and bite us on the ass when we are least expecting them. And if you are the type who ignores unusual aches and pains, once these have reared their ugly heads at us, we have plain and simply already screwed ourselves. Look smart guy, it’s important to be aware of possible dangers to your health and to make changes in your life when required. Remind yourself of these top threats to men and how to avoid them.
Depression and Suicide
Depression is not a personal weakness or character flaw. Most experts believe depression can be the result of family history, early life experiences, stressful events, or a combination of these factors. Many of us military veterans might have been dragon slayers at one time in our lives, we have faced dangers head on that are the nightmares of the common man, yet we can still have symptoms ranging from mild, to moderate, and severe. Or we might experience any combination of each symptom in no particular order. Symptoms include:
- Feeling sad or hopeless.
- Losing interest in or not getting pleasure from most of your daily activities.
- Gaining or losing weight.
- Sleeping too much or not enough.
- Feeling tired or have little energy.
- Eating more or less than usual almost every day.
The signs and symptoms of depression may be hard to notice at first, so it’s important to be aware of your thoughts, moods, and behaviors. The good news is that even the most severe cases of depression are treatable. If you are a military veteran suffering from depression, PTSD, or thoughts of suicide, please reach out to the Veterans Administration for help. They can be reached at :
My brothers, you are not alone. The VA has improved their care for us who suffer. It takes strength to get help, you are not a weak individual. I reached out and sought help for my own issues with PTSD, and I dare anyone to confront me as being weak.
Note: this article was aimed at men, but my sisters in arms, this applies to you as well. We are brothers and sisters, we have each others backs.
Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease
Look guys, unless you are actively training to be a Sumo wrestler or an elite level power lifter, there is no reason for you to have a gut on yourself that will only serve to rob you of your health and vitality. No matter how loud your bark might be, that gut shows you are not capable of actually running with the big dogs. Do yourself a huge favor if you want to continue an active lifestyle into your senior years, clean up your diet and get into some sort of exercise that will improve your cardiovascular health. If you cannot look down and see your toes and the little guy in between, you are too damn fat.
One in four men have some form of heart disease. It’s the leading cause of death in the United States. Risk factors depend on your age, gender, race, and sometimes family history. You may not be able to change those factors, but you can reduce your risk by:
- Managing your blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.
- Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
- Not smoking and limiting alcohol use. You already know that smoking is one of the dumbest habits you can ever pick up. Just don’t.
- Managing stress as best you can. If you are like me and have PTSD, get your ass in for some help. It is not a sign of weakness to seek it.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death. It’s good to know what symptoms to look for so you know when to see your physician. If you’re concerned about lung cancer, be on the lookout for these signs:
- A cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse over time or has blood in it.
- Constant chest pain or shortness of breath,wheezing, or hoarseness.
- Repeated problems with pneumonia or bronchitis.
- Swelling of the neck and face.
- Loss of appetite or weight loss.
The earlier cancer is found, the better your chances of beating it. But, the best way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking.
OK, none of us ever liked the humiliation of having a doctor shove their finger up our butt to check for prostate cancer, but this is not how most doctors do it any more. Today, we can simply get a PSA test where blood is drawn to check for prostate cancer. The test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. PSA is a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate.
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer among American men. It usually grows slowly and occurs in men over the age of 65 years old. If you notice the following symptoms, talk to your health care provider right away.
- Problems passing urine, such as pain, difficulty starting or stopping
- Lower back pain
- Pain with ejaculation
There is no way to know for sure if you will get prostate cancer. The older a man is, the higher his risk of getting prostate cancer. Talk with your health care provider to take the next steps in identifying prostate cancer earlier.
Anyone can get diabetes, but it’s more common among people over 40, if you’re overweight, or lack physical activity. Other risk factors for diabetes include:
- Family history
- Certain races, such as African American or Native American
- If you take certain medicines
You can’t change certain risk factors, but you can make changes to help prevent diabetes. If you’re worried about diabetes, explore ways to:
- Maintain a healthy weight and eat nutritious, low-calorie foods
- Stay active and try to reduce stress levels
- Have regular check-ups with your doctor
Guys, most of us want to be recognized as strong capable individuals, it is a part of our nature as men. However, many of us are getting soft and in less than stellar physical condition. We are prone to eat bad foods when busy and on the run. We are also known to eat in large volume when we have skipped meals in order to meet schedules and deadlines. I believe most of us want to live healthy lives, yet we allow the clutter that comes from living to send us on detours down the worst of life’s rutted out dirt roads. We stand strong even when life is crashing down around us, and we are known to refuse help until we cannot stand any longer. We place family needs over our own until we finally crash hard. Yeah, we can be kind of dumb in this way. Sometimes others will try to intervene and get us back on a healthy course, to which we might tell them our lives are none of their business. Let me tell you something, your actions when detrimental to yourself will always become the business of someone else. Someone will have to care of your business when you no longer can. Someone will have to take care of your funeral arrangements and the disposition of your estate. Your life and how you live it is the business of others around you, it is selfish to believe otherwise. In the words of my wise friend Jeffery – Selfishness is a slow death.
Take care of yourself so that you can take care of those you love. Take care of yourself so that you are not prematurely moving into a nursing home. Take care of yourself so you do not become a burden on others. Take care of yourself, simply because that is what true men do.