The Guy's Guide to Head-to-Toe Health

How to pre­vent 9 health con­di­tions that are com­mon in men

While the fun­da­men­tals of main­tain­ing good health are the same for men and women, the risk of devel­op­ing cer­tain con­di­tions can vary. For­tu­nate­ly, estab­lish­ing healthy habits can go a long way in keep­ing men feel­ing their best. Dur­ing the month of Novem­ber, in an effort to increase aware­ness of sev­er­al con­di­tions that affect men’s health, our physi­cians share tips to help men stay healthy.

Ath­lete’s foot

Ath­lete’s foot is a fun­gal infec­tion that affects your skin, most com­mon­ly the feet. Men that reg­u­lar­ly engage in cer­tain types of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty may be at an increased risk of expo­sure. This is because bac­te­ria and fun­gus can form in damp, shared spaces such as lock­er rooms, pub­lic pools, saunas or show­ers. Activ­i­ties requir­ing bare feet, such as yoga or mar­tial arts, may also increase your risk. While ath­lete’s foot is not typ­i­cal­ly seri­ous, it can spread to oth­er areas of your body includ­ing your hands, nails and groin area, which can be hard­er to treat. Tak­ing pre­cau­tions, such as remov­ing damp cloth­ing, espe­cial­ly socks, and wear­ing slip-on shoes in shared spaces, can low­er your risk.

- Aris­tides Assi­ma­copou­los, MD, Inter­nal Medicine

Benign Pro­sta­t­ic Hyper­pla­sia (BPH)

As men age, many will devel­op a con­di­tion called Benign Pro­sta­t­ic Hyper­pla­sia (BPH), which occurs when the prostate gland becomes enlarged. In fact, BPH will devel­op in near­ly 50 per­cent of men by the time they reach the age of 60. As the prostate gland becomes larg­er, it begins to put pres­sure on the uri­nary tract, restrict­ing the flow of urine from your blad­der. This can lead to a vari­ety of uncom­fort­able symp­toms includ­ing increased fre­quen­cy and/​or urgency to uri­nate, as well as dif­fi­cul­ty com­plete­ly emp­ty­ing your blad­der. While it may not be pos­si­ble to total­ly pre­vent BPH, you can sup­port your prostate health with lifestyle mod­i­fi­ca­tions. Eat­ing a well-bal­anced diet, exer­cis­ing reg­u­lar­ly and drink­ing plen­ty of flu­ids can help keep your prostate and uri­nary sys­tem func­tion­ing prop­er­ly. You should also avoid smok­ing and lim­it your alco­hol and caf­feine consumption.

- Bri­an Kad­ow, MD, Urology

Liv­er diseases

Liv­er dam­age and dis­ease can devel­op in either gen­der, but is more com­mon in men. Your liv­er is a vital organ that sup­ports essen­tial bod­i­ly func­tions and fil­ters tox­ins from your body. Liv­er dam­age can be caused by long-term expo­sure to chron­ic viral infec­tions, cer­tain tox­ins, fam­i­ly his­to­ry, exces­sive alco­hol con­sump­tion and oth­er health con­di­tions includ­ing dia­betes and/​or high cho­les­terol. To keep your liv­er func­tion­ing prop­er­ly, avoid exces­sive alco­hol con­sump­tion. It is rec­om­mend­ed that men con­sume two drinks or less per day. Main­tain­ing a bal­anced diet and healthy weight can also low­er your risk. If you have a fam­i­ly his­to­ry of liv­er dis­ease, your pri­ma­ry care physi­cian may rec­om­mend check­ing your liv­er enzymes dur­ing your annu­al phys­i­cal to mon­i­tor your liv­er function.

- Marc Fal­lah, MD, Gastroenterology

COPD and lung cancer

Accord­ing to the Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol (CDC), Chron­ic Obstruc­tive Pul­monary Dis­ease (COPD) is the third lead­ing cause of death in the Unit­ed States. COPD is usu­al­ly the result of lung dam­age caused by long-term expo­sure to envi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tants and tobac­co prod­ucts. Men who smoke are 13 times more like­ly to devel­op COPD than non-smok­ers, so it is impor­tant to quit smok­ing and avoid sec­ond-hand smoke expo­sure when­ev­er pos­si­ble. Cer­tain envi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tants can also increase your risk, which include traf­fic pol­lu­tion, burn­ing coal and oth­er met­als. Wear­ing pro­tec­tive gear, such as face masks, can help reduce your risk if you’re reg­u­lar­ly exposed to air-borne toxins.

- Matthew Baugh, MD, Pul­monary Medicine

Gout

Gout is a form of arthri­tis which devel­ops when your uric acid lev­els are much high­er than nor­mal, caus­ing sharp pain and swelling in your joints, most com­mon­ly in the big toes. Men nat­u­ral­ly have high­er uric acid lev­els so they are more prone to gout than women. Addi­tion­al­ly, uric acid lev­els can rise when you con­sume red meat and shell­fish or drink sug­ary bev­er­ages and alco­hol. Lim­it­ing your intake of these foods and drinks can help keep your uric acid lev­els low.

- Shakaib Hay­at, DO, Rheumatology

Heart dis­ease

Both men and women are affect­ed by heart dis­ease, how­ev­er, heart dis­ease is more com­mon and in many cas­es, more fatal in men. While some risk fac­tors like fam­i­ly his­to­ry can’t be avoid­ed, you can reduce your risk with lifestyle mod­i­fi­ca­tions. Obe­si­ty, espe­cial­ly when excess weight is car­ried in the abdomen, is the lead­ing cause of heart dis­ease. Fol­low­ing a bal­anced diet, lim­it­ing the amount of red meat you con­sume, main­tain­ing a healthy weight and an active lifestyle can help low­er your risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar issues as you age.

- Ethan Koso­va, MD, Cardiology

Inguinal her­nia

An inguinal her­nia can devel­op in any­one, but is more com­mon in men. In fact, approx­i­mate­ly 25 per­cent of men will devel­op a her­nia over the course of their life­time. An inguinal her­nia devel­ops when tis­sue in the low­er abdomen push­es through a weak­ened spot in your abdom­i­nal wall, caus­ing a painful bulge to form near the groin. Tak­ing pre­cau­tions includ­ing avoid­ing heavy lift­ing and address­ing symp­toms like chron­ic cough or con­sti­pa­tion which can strain your low­er abdom­i­nal mus­cles, can reduce your risk.

- Paul Sig­nori­no, MD, Gen­er­al Surgery

Melanoma

The risk of devel­op­ing melanoma changes with age. Women are more like­ly to devel­op melanoma before the age of 50, but after the age of 50, men are twice as like­ly to be diag­nosed. After the age of 80, the risk is almost three times greater for men than women. Regard­less of your gen­der or age, you should apply sun pro­tec­tion dai­ly. Get­ting reg­u­lar skin exams can also help detect any abnor­mal­i­ties ear­li­er, when they are most treatable. 

- Antho­ny Peter­son, MD, Dermatology

Parkin­son’s disease

Parkin­son’s dis­ease caus­es pro­gres­sive brain dam­age that leads to uncon­trolled body tremors, mus­cle stiff­ness and dif­fi­cul­ty walk­ing over time. Men are near­ly twice more like­ly to devel­op Parkin­son’s dis­ease than women. The exact rea­son for this is unknown and is thought to be par­tial­ly due to a genet­ic pre­dis­po­si­tion. Addi­tion­al­ly, those who have had a stroke may be at an increased risk of demen­tia and/​or Parkin­son’s down the road. As with heart dis­ease, cer­tain lifestyle fac­tors, includ­ing main­tain­ing a healthy weight and stay­ing active, can decrease your risk of stroke and oth­er cog­ni­tive dis­eases like Parkinson’s.

- Zee­shan Ali, MD, Neurology

While pre­vent­ing ill­ness alto­geth­er may not be pos­si­ble, lifestyle mod­i­fi­ca­tions such as quit­ting smok­ing, lim­it­ing alco­hol con­sump­tion, main­tain­ing a healthy weight and stay­ing active can help reduce your risk of sev­er­al health con­di­tions as you age. Reg­u­lar vis­its with your pri­ma­ry care physi­cian can also help iden­ti­fy and address any health con­cerns you may be expe­ri­enc­ing before they become more seri­ous. We want to help you stay as healthy and active as pos­si­ble, through­out all stages of your life. To learn more about our team of skilled pri­ma­ry care physi­cians and spe­cial­ists, or to sched­ule an appoint­ment, vis­it duly​healthand​care​.com/​o​n​l​i​n​e​-​s​c​h​e​dule/.

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