On average, men’s life expectancy is less than women’s by about four to six years. Men face the same health issues that affect everyone, but they are less likely to see doctors or take care of their health, often citing they don’t want to hear bad news. Regular wellness visits and preventative care, however, can turn potentially bad news into good.
You can prevent men’s health issues with healthy living and regular wellness visits. Regular physical exams, as well as screenings for cancer and other diseases, can increase life expectancy and improve men’s quality of life. Here are the preventative tasks you should be performing to maintain your health and increase your life expectancy.
Early detection of medical issues significantly reduces the frequency and severity of illness at all stages of life. Men over 18 should have a wellness visit to their primary care doctor once every three to five years. For men over 30, those visits should occur every year.
Many illnesses progress without symptoms, and getting regular check-ups can give your doctor the chance to look for anything you might not have noticed. Regular visits also give your doctor a consistent picture to establish your baseline for health, so when things change or there are irregularities, your doctor can act more quickly.
Wellness visits are also important for quality of life. Men are less likely to see doctors for illness or injury, but in the end they are only hurting themselves more. It's easy to suffer through injury from work or recreation, common diseases like cold or flu, and even poor mental health. The truth is that if you weren’t stressed, sick, tired, or in pain—physically or mentally—you’d be able to do more of the things you love and spend more time focusing on friends and family.
In addition to wellness visits, an easy way to stay in good health is to stay up-to-date with vaccinations. Some vaccinations you should get only once, but others it’s important to get regularly.
Routine vaccines include:
Other less regular vaccines men should get are:
Other vaccines you qualify for depend on factors like age, life events like your job and travel, and certain health conditions like diabetes and liver disease. Your doctor should have a record of your vaccines, and you can access them by logging into My Compass.
Cancer screenings are vital to early detection and early treatment. Screening for certain cancers can catch cancer early or even prevent it before it forms. Waiting until symptoms occur can often mean the cancer has progressed and potentially turned deadly. These are the cancer screenings men should bring up to their doctor. Your schedule of regular screenings depends on age and other risk factors.
Your doctor might routinely recommend or run these screenings during your wellness visits. You should know how regularly you should get screened for issues depending on your age and risk factors. Talk to your doctor to find out.
While wellness visits, vaccines, cancer screenings, and other medical conditions screenings can all contribute to a better, longer life, it’s in the day-to-day things that you can make the most impact. Keeping your heart healthy with exercise; protecting your gut with good nutrition; and refraining from smoking, alcohol, and substance use all have an impact on preventing illness and injury. Mental health also impacts our lives in ways we might not even see. If you’re stressed, sleeping poorly, or otherwise struggling, don’t keep it from your doctor. Speak up.
The better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of others. Don’t miss out on quality time with your friends and family by suffering through injury, illness, or poor health. Why be sick, injured, or unhappy when you don’t have to be?
Follow-up with your doctor to schedule your regular wellness visit and discuss vaccines and preventative screenings. Don’t forget to ask questions about changes you can make to your daily life to improve your health and quality of life. The people you love will thank you for it.
Sources: American Cancer Society (ACS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Medical News Today, National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute of Health (NIH)