by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
We don’t need studies to prove that men are more likely to delay or avoid going to the doctor than women. Heck, I’ll even be the first to admit it. I’d need to feel like I was dying in order to call and schedule a doctor’s appointment, and I don’t do any sort of health check-ups (but I know I should). I’m also not yet at an age where things will probably start going south, and a greater concern is imminent.
That said, there are certain tests that, as men get older, they should definitely schedule and get checked. Sure, health check-ups can be uncomfortable and somewhat “scary,” as many of us wouldn’t rather just not know if something is wrong.
In this article, we are going to address some essential health check-ups that every man should get done.
Yearly Health Check-Ups
A yearly health check-up is one of the best things you can do to maintain your general health and well-being. The following are the health check-ups every man should get checked at least once a year.
1. Blood Sugar Levels
You might not be aware that having high blood sugar is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, but it is. If you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes, it’s important to get your blood sugar tested regularly as well as cholesterol levels, weight, and blood pressure. Your doctor will also recommend lifestyle changes such as eating better and exercising more if necessary.
2. Prostate Cancer Screening
The PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test measures a protein produced by cells in the prostate gland (an organ located below a man’s bladder), which may indicate prostate cancer if found at higher levels than normal. However, false positives and over-diagnosing have led many doctors to recommend against PSA testing alone as a tool for detecting prostate cancer.
A combination of PSA testing along with a digital rectal exam (DRE) can help determine whether further evaluation is needed. Either way, it’s important that men over age 50 talk to their doctor about whether they should be screened for prostate cancer annually or every other year starting at age 40.
3. Skin Check
Your skin is exposed to the sun, dirt, and other elements every day, making it susceptible to damage. A dermatologist can check for signs of cancer and other skin problems during an annual exam. Your dermatologist will also tell you how to take care of your skin so that you don’t have any issues later down the road.
Every 3 Years Health Check-Up
If you’re not getting regular check-ups, you’re missing an important opportunity to stay healthy. Here’s a list of tests that every man should get at least once every three years:
1. Cholesterol Test
High cholesterol increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Men between the ages of 20 and 39 should have their cholesterol levels checked every five years, while those over 40 should do so once every four years. If you have a family history of heart disease or if your lipid levels are above normal, consult with your doctor about more frequent testing.
This test looks inside your colon and rectum with a thin, lighted tube that has a tiny camera at its tip. If polyps (small growths in the lining of your colon) or cancerous lesions are found, they can be removed during the procedure. Doing this can help reduce the risk of developing colon cancer later on.
Colon cancer is one of the top killers among men, so it’s important to catch any problems early. If caught early enough, up to 90 percent of cases can be cured with surgery.
Some Regular Health Check-Ups That You Should Be Aware Of
It’s time to get your health checked, and the following are some of the most important tests that you should be getting on a regular basis.
An echocardiogram can assess the strength of your heart muscle, which is vital because this determines how well your heart pumps blood throughout the body. It can also detect abnormalities such as leaky valves that may need to be repaired with surgery or medications. But you shouldn’t worry too much just yet, as there are many other reasons why someone might need an echocardiogram besides heart disease.
2. Fasting Glucose Test
This test is used to detect diabetes or prediabetes in people with no symptoms but who have an increased risk of developing either condition because they have other risk factors such as obesity or a family history of diabetes. A fasting glucose test involves taking a blood sample after an overnight fast and measuring your blood sugar level.
If this level is high, it means that you may have prediabetes or diabetes, which can lead to serious health problems if left untreated and requires further testing and treatment by your doctor (and possibly diet modifications).
3. Liver Enzyme Test
The liver is responsible for filtering out toxins from the body. It also plays a significant role in metabolism and blood clotting. If your liver is not working properly, it can lead to serious health issues like:
- Jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin)
- Fluid retention
- Bleeding easily
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Mental changes like confusion and difficulty with thinking clearly
A simple blood test can determine if there are any problems with your liver function.