Most men need to pay more attention to their health and when they need routine medical screenings. They are more likely than women to smoke, drink alcohol, make risky life choices, and put off regular checkups and medical care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Yet, many of the major health risks men face can be prevented and treated with early diagnosis through medical screenings and living a healthy lifestyle.
Here’s the issue for some men. Medical Screenings and exams cost time and money. Plus, how often are tests needed? Many of us have heard stories about people coming down with a life-threatening illness out of the blue when they felt fine otherwise. If they knew the consequence, they likely wouldn’t have put off that doctor’s visit.
It’s important not to let fear or confusion deter you or your loved one from living a long and healthy life. Here are the most important medical screenings when considering health habits for men, based on their age:
MANAGING MEN’S HEALTH: 18 TO 39 YEARS OLD
It’s especially important to build routine workout habits early on, as research shows this will promote healthier behaviors later in life as well. A lot of men in their 20s and 30s are focused on gaining more muscle mass and bulking up, which is great because, with age, it is harder to gain back muscle mass.
As men progress into their 30’s, they may feel fine, but having a family and a career can lead to added stress that can only be detected through routine screening. For example, the only way to find out if you suffer from high blood pressure is to have it checked regularly. High blood sugar and high cholesterol levels also may not have any symptoms in the early stages.
Don’t have a general practitioner yet? Now is the time to get one. Below are what medical screenings are appropriate for men ages 18-39 years old, according to the U.S National Library of Medicine.
Your height, weight, and BMI should be checked at every annual exam with your general practitioner. These numbers serve as precursor for further testing.
BLOOD PRESSURE SCREENING
Blood pressure in men should be checked every 2 years from 18-39 years old. If the top number (systolic number) is between 120 and 139 or the bottom number (diastolic number) is between 80 and 89 mm Hg or higher, then have it checked every year.
Men should go to the dentist once or twice every year for an exam and cleaning. Your dentist will evaluate if you have a need for more frequent visits.
If men have any vision problems, they should have an eye exam every 2 years or more often if recommended by their provider.
If they do not have any eye irregularities, every 5-10 years is good.
CHOLESTEROL SCREENING AND HEART DISEASE PREVENTION
Men over age 35 and older should be checked every 5 years, but if you have risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, start getting screened earlier, at age 20.
If a man has a blood pressure that is above 135/80 mmHg, his provider may test him for blood sugar level for diabetes, according to the NIH.
If men have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 and have other risk factors for diabetes, they should be screened more routinely as determined by their general practitioner. Having a BMI over 25 means a person is overweight.
Men should get the Flu shot annually.
After age 19, men should have a tetanus-diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine once as part of their tetanus-diphtheria vaccines, and a tetanus-diphtheria booster every 10 years.
Men should get the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine series if you have not already had it.
Men should receive 2 doses of varicella vaccine if you were born after 1980 and never had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine
Your doctor may recommend other immunizations if you have certain medical conditions, according to the CDC.
INFECTIOUS DISEASE SCREENING
Depending on your lifestyle and medical history, you may need to be screened for infections such as syphilis, chlamydia, and HIV, as well as other infections.
MANAGING MEN’S HEALTH: 40 TO 64 YEARS OLD
Once men enter their 40’s, their risk for prostate problems increase after age 40 and their risk for heart problems goes up after 45. Consulting your doctor to help determine the appropriate medical screenings may help to catch any problems early and before they become more serious health concerns. New screenings introduced during these years for men tend to be colon cancer screenings, prostate cancer screenings, lung cancer screenings, and osteoporosis screenings.
Men Need Fewer Calories In Their 50s
As you age, you lose muscle, especially if you’re not physically active. Loss of muscle mass decreases the rate at which your body uses calories. This makes it especially hard to maintain a healthy weight.
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, men in their 50s need about 200 fewer calories daily than they do in their 30s due to this muscle loss.
Remember men’s height, weight, and BMI should still be checked at every annual exam with your general practitioner.
PROSTATE CANCER SCREENING
Most men age 50 or older should discuss screening for prostate cancer with a healthcare professional. Men with a family history of prostate cancer in a close relative younger than age 65 should discuss screening at age 40.
The potential benefits of PSA testing as a routine screening test have not been shown to outweigh the harms of testing and treatment. If a man chooses to be tested, the PSA blood test is most often done every year.
Digital Rectal Exam. A digital rectal exam is an examination of the lower rectum. The doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to to look for abnormal bumps or other changes of the prostate gland. This is commonly performed annually by a general health care provider.
LUNG CANCER SCREENING
Male smoker? The U.S. Protected services Task Force recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.
Not a smoker? Don’t worry. For those who have never been smokers, the test is not deemed necessary.
CHOLESTEROL SCREENING AND HEART DISEASE PREVENTION
Same risk factors may increase frequency as mentioned in previous age bracket.
If a man is 35 or older, they should be checked every 5 years.
Some men should consider taking aspirin to prevent heart attacks. Ask your medical provider before you start aspirin because aspirin may increase your risk for bleeding.
If a man is 45 or older, they should be screened every 3 years.
A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures how much calcium and other types of minerals are in an area of your bone, which is a way to detect osteoporosis. This is done through two types of x-ray screenings.
If a man between ages 50 to 70 has long-term steroid use, low body weight, smoking, heavy alcohol use, having a fracture after age 50, or a family history of osteoporosis, they should discuss screening with your doctor.
COLON CANCER SCREENING
If a man is under 50, they should be screened if they have a strong family history of colon cancer or polyps. Screening may also be considered if they have risk factors such as a history of inflammatory bowel disease or polyps.
Men between the ages 50 to 75 should be screened for colorectal cancer. There are several screening tests available. Some common screening tests include:
- A stool occult blood test done every year
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
- Stool occult blood test every 3 years
- Colonoscopy every 10 years- But you may need a colonoscopy more often if you have Ulcerative colitis, a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, or a history of colorectal adenomas
Other than Men possibly being recommended by their doctors to get a shingles or herpes zoster vaccination once they hit 60, most dental examinations, frequency of blood pressure tests, and immunization shots remain consistent with the preventative medical screenings from the 18-39 age bracket.
MANAGING MEN’S HEALTH: 65 OR OLDER
In addition to maintaining some level of physical activity, focusing on mental adjustments to life for men that are 65 and older can be helpful, according to the American Psychological Association.
As well, contrary to common belief, men do not have to slow down when you hit retirement age. Tai Chi, Yoga, and other fitness programs that focus on stretching can provide many health benefits. Remember to hydrate before, during, and after workouts to help prevent injuries. Unfortunately Vision and hearing often deteriorates as we age, which increases the chance of taking a spill.
Falling Risk Over 65 Years Old
Men in their later years should take extra care to keep the home environment safe. More than one in three people age 65 years or older falls each year. And the risk of falling and fall-related problem rises with age, according to the NIH. The removal of loose rugs, sharp edges, and other health and safety hazards can be helpful. Also one could consider adding safety handles in the bathroom and signing up for medical monitoring services.
Remember it’s always important for men to check their height, weight, at every annual exam with your general practitioner. Continue to routinely have blood pressure checked, cholesterol, diabetes, lung cancer (if smoker) screenings, dental and eye exams consistent with the 40-64 age bracket unless recommended otherwise by your general practitioner.
ABDOMINAL AORTIC ANEURYSM SCREENING
If a man is between ages 65 and 75 and has smoked, they should have an ultrasound to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysms.The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs. An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when an area of the aorta becomes very large or balloons out. Even if a man isn’t a smoker, it’s worth discussing this screening with their provider.
Men should have their hearing tested if they suffer symptoms of hearing loss.
If a man is 65 or older, they should get a pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one, or if it has been more than 5 years since you had the vaccine.
If a man is in good health, they should stick to the same screening frequency as previous age bracket recommendations, according to the CDC.
Men’s Health Is Important To Address At All Ages
At any age, men should never feel embarrassed to talk about their health. It’s really important! If it’s too intimidating to head to a doctor’s office right away, try to start by talking to family members to find out which diseases run in your family. You can use the U.S Department of Health and Human services family health history tool to keep tabs on what you learn and know going forward.
When it comes to men’s health, there are life long health tips that are beneficial no matter a man’s age, ethnicity, or income. Some men may not be able to have all of the preventative medical screenings that are recommended getting over the decades, but they can greatly improve the odds of living a long and healthy life by focusing on these tips: Make time for routine exercise. Be mindful of eating healthy and portion sizes in order to maintain a healthy weight. Smoking? Stop smoking. Remember to drink alcohol in moderation. Manage Stress in healthy ways, and always remember to annual check ups with general practitioners.