Every year, in the run up to Father's Day (Sunday 17th June!), International Men's Health week takes place which encourages men round the world to check in on their physical and emotional health, and rightly so! According to MHFI, men have a life expectancy four-and-a-half year shorter than women, and higher mortality rates for all leading causes of death. Adult men are at higher risk than women of cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and cancer. The Irish Cancer Society states that over 10,000 men in Ireland are diagnosed with cancer each year.
In the run up to Father's Day, the best gift you could give your father or partner is to encourage him to check his health. Men are more likely than women to ignore symptoms or put that visit to the GP on the long finger. To celebrate Men’s Health Week, in this week’s blog we list our top five health awareness tips for men to consider.
KNOW THE EARLY WARNING SIGNS
Recognizing possible warning signs of serious illnesses such cancer and taking prompt action can lead to early diagnosis and much better prospects of full recovery. If you identify any of the below symptoms, see your GP. Talk to your doctor if you notice anything unusual as it is always better to err on the side of caution. Early detection greatly increases the chances for successful treatment.
- New lumps or growths on your skin
- A sore or bruise that does not heal.
- A mole that changes in shape, size or colour or bleeds in unusual circumstances.
- An ongoing cough or hoarseness that last longer than three weeks.
- Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing.
- A change in bowel or bladder habits for no good (apparent) reason.
- Shortness of breath.
- Loss of appetite.
- Unexplained weight loss or tiredness.
- Blood anywhere it normally should not be – in urine, bowel motions, or from spitting.
KNOW YOUR FAMILY HISTORY
Many men worry that they are at greater risk of getting cancer if it is present in their family, but this isn’t always the case. Statistically, cancer is more common amongst older people, so most families in Ireland will have at least one person in their family who has cancer. However, experts say that less than 5% of cancers are linked to an inherited gene fault.
According to Irish Cancer society, The strength of your family’s history depends on:
More than two close relatives on the same side of your family have had cancer.
The cancers developed when they were young (under the age of 50).
One of your relatives has had a gene fault found by genetic tests.
Talk to your doctor who can help you identify if your family history of cancer is of concern. Your doctor may suggest that you make regular visits for screening. In this way, you can pick up problems early.
GET A HEALTH CHECK - EVEN IF YOU ARE WELL
Make an appointment with your GP now while your health is your focus. Your attention on this matter might not last! Ask for a health check-up tailored to your needs, age, medical and family history to identify your risks.
There are a range of screening options available for those who want to have a full health check-up, a sort of NCT for your body! A lot of clinics will offer “standard screens” which involves a consultation with a nurse for height, weight, blood pressure and blood tests and lasts for about 40 minutes. If, however, you would like a more in-depth medical appraisal, you can undergo a lengthier screening process that includes Cholesterol test, Urinalysis (including glucose and protein to check kidney function and to screen for diabetes), lung function test, heart assessment, visual assessment. This would take about 3 hours that also includes a lifestyle analysis, a stress assessment and a review of current diet and exercise regime.
Excluding health insurance or company benefits, screenings can cost from €180 - €450. You can view a list of National screening services the government offer for free here. There is also the option of claiming the cost of a health check back against your tax, by submitting a Med 1
A POOR LIFESTYLE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR A HIGH PROPORTION OF CHRONIC DISEASES
The key to cancer and other serious illnesses prevention might very well lie in your hands. By taking a few simple steps such as maintaining a good diet and a small bit of exercise, every man can improve their chances of living a happy and healthy life.
According to Irish Cancer society, 4 out of 10 cancer cases are preventable by following the EU Code of against cancer. View their 12-step programme here. Studies show that men who follow a healthy lifestyle, which includes being physically active, are 18% less likely to develop cancer. For some helpful tips on how to get started, see here!
MAINTAIN HEALTHY STRESS LEVELS
When we hear the word 'health', most of us think of diet, exercise and genes however stress can cause serious risk to your health. Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
According to MHFI 31% of men in Ireland ‘regularly’ or ‘constantly’ experience stress and almost 20% of men are either ‘somewhat’ or ‘completely’ ineffective at managing stress. A man’s capacity to manage stress effectively decreases the lower his socio-economic group, and this causes great harm to his health. Problems relating to stress or mental health often poses a threat to a man’s masculinity and consequently many men choose to self-care and to remain stoic rather than to seek help. Alcohol and other such drugs are used by some men as coping mechanisms for stress since they are seen as more masculine ways of coping.
At a healthy level, stress can be a good thing in our lives and can motivate and drive us to achieve. However, once it reaches unhealthy levels over a long period it can become chronic and detrimental to our health. Think about how you are currently managing stress and if you have any concerns, talk to your GP about putting a plan of action in place to help you manage any anxieties you may have in your life.