Essential Preventive Health Screening Tests for Men

Over the years, the common perception about men being the stronger gender and their tough image has changed. Health problems, as we know today, do not differentiate between men and women, even age. Stress, sedentary lifestyle and lack of work-life balance have affected both the genders equally, thus contributing towards rising in lifestyle health disorders. However, men are still known to be regular visitors for consultation and routine health check exams than women. Multiple surveys by different research bodies across the globe have found a large section of men not visiting their doctors for regular health checks, despite complaining of chronic problems. Needless to say, the attitude of “let’s wait for a few more days” before seeking clinical advice has further deteriorated their conditions. 

(Don’t) Wait for the Right Time!

Sometimes, waiting for the right time isn’t wise, at least in matters concerning our health. Health screening tests are specifically designed by healthcare providers today, according to health problems, risk factors and age groups to help screen any potential health threats at the right time. Health screening tests help diagnose health problems faster, thus helping prevent hazardous complications. Discussing symptoms, mild or severe, helps doctors understand the problem and nip the problem in the bud.

Screening tests you should not ignore

If you are in your late 30s, it is most likely that you may not have a regular physician to go but it’s a good time to start. Look for comprehensive health test screening packages if you do not suffer from any chronic disorders yet. 

  • BMI Check: Obesity or being overweight is common, given the sedentary lifestyle we lead, stress and lack of regular physical exercise. It increased the risk of developing several lifestyle problems like diabetes, bone and joint and heart problems. It is important to keep your BMI (body mass index) within 18.5 to 25. Anything above will indicate the risk of being overweight and obese. 

  • Blood Pressure Test: If you ask anyone around, hypertension or high blood pressure levels are probably the common chronic health problem that they are dealing with. High blood pressure increases the chances of suffering a stroke or developing heart and kidney problems. If your blood pressure levels range between 120/80 mm Hg or below, it is normal and must be checked at least once every two years. If the ranges are higher, consult your doctor for more frequent check-ups and medications to ward off any immediate health problems. 

  • Cholesterol Test: Cholesterol can be good, bad or ugly at the same time and puts you more at risk if you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart problems, diabetes, obesity and stroke. Your HDL (good cholesterol), LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels will be evaluated. If your total cholesterol is below 200 mg/dL and triglyceride ranges between 100-150 mg/dL, you are safe. However, it is better to get these levels checked annually and discuss with your doctor the risk factors. 

  • Diabetes Screening: In addition to high blood pressure, the other most common lifestyle disorder that seemed to have grappled the population right from their 20s is diabetes or high blood sugar. Diabetes, accompanied by obesity and high cholesterol levels, can affect your heart, kidney, nervous system and eyes. Type 2 diabetes is more common and needs lifestyle modification and medication to keep blood sugar levels under control. To keep this chronic disorder under check, your physician may suggest Hb1AC, Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG), Post Prandial Plasma Glucose (PPG) test. There may be multiple rounds of the test since a single test may not diagnose diabetes or abnormally high blood sugar. 

  • Colorectal Screening: For men, colorectal cancer is the second most type of cancer that can cause death and are at higher risk than women. Colorectal cancer can be diagnosed when a colonoscopy or a faecal occult test is conducted annually or every two years to find out the development of colon polyps in the inner surface. If these polyps are cancerous, it may spread inside the body and affect other organs. If you are 50 years and above, have a family history of colon cancer, consult your doctor for a check-up. Colon cancer is treatable if detected early. 

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test: If you have a strong family history of prostate cancer, get a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test done. Consult your doctor and discuss the risk factors and symptoms, along with the frequency of getting the test done. 

  • Lung Cancer: If you are a heavy smoker currently or may have quit in the last 12-15 years, a CT scan to detect to any traces of lung cancer is advised. 

  • Testicular Cancer: You may be at risk of developing this type of cancer either due to undescended testicles or if you have a family history. Testicles, the reproductive organ that produces sperm, can be self-checked for any hard lumps, changes in shape or size and can be reported to the doctor. During your routine test, inform your doctor of any possible discomfort that you may experience and check for additional screening. 

  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAAs) can be fatal and are mainly caused due to sudden rupture of an enlarged blood vessel. You may not experience any symptom in most cases but it can be detected through an ultrasound test. If you have been a heavy smoker, it is better to get the same checked. 

  • Bone Density and Osteoporosis Test: If you have a family history of osteoporosis or bone and joint problems, have to stand for long hours due to work, have suffered a fracture previously, have consumed steroid for long, have relatively low body weight, smoke or drink alcohol excessively, and are above 50 years of age, get a bone density and osteoporosis test. 

  • Hepatitis B Test: You can be at increased risk of contracting Hepatitis B infection if you have unprotected sex with multiple partners, may have shared used needles during drug intake, practice sex with men or are closely exposed to human blood (for example, medical and paramedical workers). It is better to get yourself checked if any of these risk factors are applicable in your case. 

  • Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Tests: Unprotected sex with a partner or multiple partners, especially with a history of syphilis or other sexually transmitted diseases can put at higher risk of contracting the infection. Hence, practice safe sex, use condoms or other protections. Inform your doctor about sexual health to help him determine any possible risk factors. 

  • Mental Health: Mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, stress and suicidal thoughts are gender agnostic. Stress caused due to problems in relationships, workplaces can result in loneliness, hopelessness or losing interest in doing daily activities. These also indicate depression. It is better not to dismiss any such thoughts and seek clinical advice to find out ways to combat anxiety or panic attacks. Your doctor will listen to you, talk to you and suggest therapies or medication help you deal with your problems. 

  • Eye Check and Glaucoma: Like all other tests, get an annual eye check done. Common eye disorders like gradual loss of vision, cataract, difficulty in reading or looking at objects at a distance must be notified to the doctor. Glaucoma, one of the most complicated eye disorders can gradually damage the eye’s optic nerve and may lead to loss of vision. Same goes with cataract if left untreated for a long time. Your doctor will check the eye pressure before detecting any damage to the optic nerve. 

 

Dr. Shashidhar

Consultant - Andrologist, Andrology

Manipal Hospitals, Whitefield, Bangalore

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