Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Men – make your health your top priority! Before it's too late

Men – make your health your top priority
By Graham Anderson, the Principal Officer of Profmed
Maintaining the human body is like driving a car. The more it is used, the more attention it needs to keep it in good running order. Men over the age of 40 should start taking care of their health with routine tests to screen for diseases that are manageable if they are caught early.

Unfortunately, as men grow older, maintaining good health isn’t only about eating well and staying fit. There are a number of diseases that can affect even the healthiest among us, so it’s a good idea to have annual check-ups so that they can be diagnosed and treated in the earliest stages. Often, lifestyle factors can be adjusted to manage the disease without the need for medical intervention, but even if surgery or treatment is necessary, the sooner it commences, the more effective it is likely to be.

The prostate test
If you are over the age of 40, you should have an annual digital rectal prostate examination and a blood test for your levels of Prostate-Specific Antigens. These two tests indicate whether further testing for prostate cancer should be performed. Prostate cancer can cause difficulties in urinating or with intercourse, but can also be completely asymptomatic, therefore it’s important to have the tests done every year to ensure that the correct course of treatment can be decided upon as early as possible.

Testing for late onset diabetes
Diabetes is known as the silent killer, because symptoms may not show for many years, by which time significant complications – like cardiovascular disease – may already have occurred. Although the disease is mostly genetic, lifestyle factors like excess weight, inactivity, high blood pressure and poor diet can hasten its development and severity. Because of this, it is a good idea for men over 40 to get tested for diabetes early, so that lifestyle factors can be adjusted before too much damage is done.

Cholesterol testing
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that the body needs for its normal functioning. However, high cholesterol is a risk factor for other illnesses like coronary heart disease, angina, stroke and peripheral artery disease, so it is very important that it is checked regularly. Lifestyle factors like weight and diet can affect cholesterol levels, so if tests are carried out regularly, it is possible to make adjustments to prevent further problems from occurring. This simple blood test should be carried out yearly by men over 40.

The influenza vaccine
You may think to yourself “it’s just the flu”, but in recent years, it has been increasingly highlighted that the very real risks that come with a bout of influenza – which kills between 200 000 and 500 000 people every year. Aside from the fact that you’ll feel very ill for about a week, there is the possibility of developing pneumonia or other complications. All of this contributes to it making sense for everyone to get a flu vaccine once a year. Profmed covers the cost of the vaccination, but not a doctor’s consultation as the injection can be given for free in pharmacies.

Although this may seem like a battery of tests for you to have to undergo, many of them form part of the annual check-ups that you should be having with your specialist or GP anyway. And it’s important to remember that no matter how time-consuming it may be to take good care of your health, prevention is always better than cure.

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