Taking control of your health means getting educated and taking proactive steps to live your best life. In the latest episode of our podcast, Dr. Charles C. Liang of Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana discusses five big topics relating to men’s health.
Thousands of American men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. If you catch the cancer early, there’s a better chance of successful treatment. Dr. Liang suggests men talk with their doctor about prostate cancer screening. If you have average risk, your doctor may recommend screening beginning at age 50. But if you have higher risk, screening might be recommended at age 40. A family history of prostate cancer is often a sign of higher risk.
“Colon cancer is one of the few cancers we can actually prevent by screening,” notes Dr. Liang. What exactly does he mean? Specifically that screening can not only find colon cancer if it’s there, but it can also discover early warning signs before cancer even has the chance to develop. “Colon cancer usually begins as a polyp inside the colon and we can see those on the colonoscopy,” Dr. Liang explains. “If you snip that polyp off and take it away, it prevents it from becoming cancer.”
Screenings typically begin at age 50, but – as with prostate cancer tests – they should begin earlier for those at higher risk.
2) Heart Health
“Blood pressure screening is also important, and that’s because hypertension leads to so many problems like heart disease, stroke and kidney problems,” Dr. Liang warns. He recommends starting annual blood pressure screenings in your 20s. While you may not have symptoms, knowing your numbers makes it easier to implement preventive measures before suffering a cardiac event.
Outside of knowing your blood pressure and working to keep it in order, you should also have a cholesterol screening. If you don’t know your cardiac health, consider getting a low dose CT scan of the coronary arteries to check for plaque or calcium buildup. You don’t necessarily need a stress test unless you have chest pain or problems with shortness of breath.
3) Sleep Apnea
“Sleep apnea is more common in men and it becomes more significant as we get older,” informs Dr. Liang. “Sleep apnea is where you actually stop breathing for a few moments. It sets you up for heart disease. It can set you up for atrial fibrillation.” If your partner notices you snoring loudly or gasping for breath overnight, ask your doctor for a recommendation for a sleep study.
For many men, fitness is a big deal. Dr. Liang stresses the importance of listening to your body. For most people, there are many exercises you can do without requiring clearance from your doctor. These include walking 30 to 45 minutes a day at least five days a week, or even light jogging. If you want to take up something that really elevates your heart rate, you should first talk with your doctor about whether you’re healthy enough for that type of physical activity.
5) Mental Health
If you’re dealing with mental health issues, Dr. Liang suggests talking with your primary care provider. You may benefit from counseling services in lieu of visits to a psychologist. Your doctor can help you determine what is right for your needs. Most importantly, know that mental health issues are common and that they’re never something to feel embarrassed about.
Interested in learning more about men’s health, including additional tips and guidance? To listen to the full interview with Dr. Liang on our new Allied and Well podcast, click here.
- Check out these health tips for men, from our partners at Virginia Mason Health System.
- Read this article from our friends at OSF HealthCare to learn why it’s “macho” to take care of your health.
- Many men only seek healthcare services in “crises” – find out why this can be harmful in this blog piece from Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System.
- Listen to Riverside Healthcare’s podcast to learn more about the signs and symptoms of heart attacks.
- Dealing with lasting feelings of depression, pessimism or gloominess? Find advice and tips in this article by Memorial Health System.
Dr. Charles C. Liang, Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.