Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Men: Pay Attention to Your Health

Correctly or not, most men are known for not staying on top of their health: A few beers here, brisket or burger there … or putting off that doctor checkup. During Men’s Health Week (June 13-19), the physicians of the Texas Medical Association (TMA) want to remind men to make their health a priority — for themselves and their families. After all, doctors say, keeping healthy has its rewards: avoiding chronic disease and allowing more quality time with friends and family.

“Some simple things can mean huge improvements in our health,” said Lenore DePagter, DO, a San Marcos internist. “We physicians prefer to help our patients improve their health, rather than having to treat them when illness or disease strikes.”

Men’s Health Week aims to raise awareness of preventable health problems and encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.

A simple path to good health includes eating right, staying active, quitting smoking, and staying up to date on vaccinations, say Texas physicians in TMA’s Healthy Vision 2020.

There’s work to be done: Nearly one-third (31.9 percent) of Texas adults are obese, making it the 11th most obese state in the nation, according to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America. And obesity rates are highest in adults aged 40-59 years, according to the National Health Interview Survey. Obesity and being overweight can contribute to a host of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke.

Adults are urged to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly, plus some muscle-strengthening activities.

If someone hasn’t been active, walking is a great way to start improving health, said Dr. DePagter. Then he or she can work up to longer, and possibly more intense, activity. But she added it’s wise to talk with the doctor before beginning any physical activity.

Quitting tobacco also can have an immediate positive impact on a person’s health. No matter the person’s age and what form of tobacco used — cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, or e-cigarettes — quitting has benefits. Texas has a 10 percent higher-than-average rate of death attributable to smoking, or 273 deaths per 100,000.

Staying up to date with vaccinations is another way to prevent illness and possible death. Even if a man had all recommended shots as a child, Dr. DePagter says men need several as an adult. For example:

  • A yearly flu shot is recommended for everyone six months of age and older.
  • Depending on age, a man might need a tetanus booster to protect from cuts and injuries.
  • Pertussis (or whooping cough) boosters protect both a father and mother and their baby.
  • A Zoster vaccination protects anyone against shingles.

TMA has an adult vaccination chart and an adult vaccination fact sheet to help patients see what shots they need based on their age. Men should check with their doctor to make sure they are up-to-date on all their shots.

“On Father’s Day, we celebrate the strong men who have made a difference in our families and in our lives,” said Dr. DePagter. “It’s up to every man to take control of his health so he can be part of this day for years to come.”

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