11 Routine Health
Screenings for Men
Screenings for Men
How often do you visit your local GP?
Many men will only arrange to see their doctor when they feel ill. Now there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this unless you have an underlying health condition of which you’re not aware. And unfortunately, many men do.
As you age, your body begins to function less optimally. You become more sedentary, perhaps your eating habits change, and this lifestyle change can negatively impact your health.
And health screenings don’t need to be scary. Many are quick and painless.
To encourage you to be proactive about booking health screenings, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of essential health screenings all men over 40 should have. However, some of the advised health screenings should be performed more regularly, beginning in your late teens or early twenties.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Eye Test
- Blood pressure
- Prostate Cancer Screening
- Testicular Screening
- Colorectal Cancer
1. Eye Test
Have you noticed the words on a page of your book beginning to blur? Do you find yourself routinely squinting or holding your phone at arms’ length to read more clearly?
As we age, the natural degeneration of the eye occurs, and you will likely need glasses to see up close. But there are other more problematic conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, pterygium, and diabetic retinopathy, which can affect your vision. While some require medication, others result in surgery.
So once you turn 40, it’s advised you get your eyes tested every one to two years. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, glaucoma or cataracts, you may need to be tested more frequently.
Cholesterol is one of those silent yet deadly medical conditions. Because there are little to no symptoms, people often aren’t aware they have high cholesterol. It tends to affect men more than women, which is why it’s so important to check your cholesterol levels routinely.
Ideally, you should get your cholesterol tested every five years from 20 unless you have a family history of coronary heart disease. You’ll also need to be tested more frequently if you’re a high-risk candidate for diabetes, kidney problems, high cholesterol and strokes.
We also advise you to get tested should you experience dramatic changes in your lifestyle, such as a new diet or weight gain.
- A good total cholesterol reading is less than 5.2 mmol/l.
- A high cholesterol reading is from 5.5 mmol/l or higher.
- Your cholesterol levels are borderline if you are between 5 to 5.5 mmol/l.
3. Blood Pressure Test
When last did you get your blood pressure checked? Probably when you invested in life insurance, right? High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is another medical condition with no noticeable symptoms, but the consequences can be deadly.
That’s why we advise you get your blood pressure checked every two years. If you lead a very stressed lifestyle or have a family history of kidney problems, diabetes, or heart disease, it’s in your best interest to get tested more regularly.
High blood press can be managed with medication and changes to your diet and exercise routine.
- Normal blood pressure reading: 120/less than 80.
- Elevated blood pressure reading: between 120-129/less than 80.
- High blood pressure reading: over 140/90.
- Dangerously high blood pressure reading: above 180/120. (Seek medical attention immediately.)
As we age, the density of our bone structure deteriorates, and unlike your skin, it’s not visible to the naked eye. But there are warning signs which you can look out for.
- Muscle pain and cramps
- Stiffing of your joints or pain in your back making physical activity difficult
- A vitamin D deficiency
- Weak fingernails that tear or break easily
- Getting shorter each year (losing height is often a sign of bone loss)
- Stooped posture or significant rounding of the shoulders and upper back
- Receding gum line
- Weak grip or pain when gripping an object such as a golf club
If you notice any of the above symptoms or have a family history of bone disease, arrange to book a doctor’s appointment. Modern medicine can limit the spread of osteoporosis if caught early, so don’t wait to get checked.
5. Prostate Cancer
For some reason, a prostate exam instils fear in men, and it shouldn’t. We use a PSA test, which checks the amount of prostate-specific antigen (a type of protein) in your blood. All it requires is a small sample of your blood.
There is nothing invasive, uncomfortable or embarrassing about this procedure, so don’t put off getting your prostate checked.
From 40 years onwards, you must arrange to see your doctor unless you have a family history of the disease. In these circumstances, your doctor might recommend screening earlier for prostate cancer. You’re also more at risk of developing prostate cancer between 55 and 69, so it’s vital that you organize screenings every two to three years.
The normal range of a PSA test change depending on your age.
- 40 – 50s: A score of 0.6 to 0.7 ng/ml is considered normal. Anything above 2.5 ng/ml is cause for concern.
- 60s: A score of 1.0 to 1.5 ng/ml is considered normal. A PSA test of 4.0 ng/ml or more is concerning, and your doctor will recommend further testing.
If your test results are abnormal, further tests will be conducted, and a prostate biopsy may be performed to get conclusive results.
6. Testicular Screening
Another touchy subject for men is testicular cancer. It’s one of the most commonly occurring cancers in young men, but luckily survival rates for all stages of the disease are relatively high. Checking your testicles is something all men from the age of 15 to 55 should do monthly.
These are a few signs that you might have a problem.
- A lump
- Unusual hardness
- Enlargement of the testes
It’s best to check your testicles after a warm shower. Should you notice something abnormal, book an appointment with your doctor immediately.
7. Skin Examination
How often do you apply sunscreen to your skin? Once or twice a day, or never? If you do use sunscreen, are you wearing a factor 50 indoors and outdoors?
Protecting your skin can be an afterthought. Something that people do long after the damage has already been done. The truth is, from the time you’re in diapers to late into your old age, you should be wearing sunscreen, a sun hat and limiting your time in direct sunlight, particularly if you live in Africa and have a light skin tone.
We also recommend that you see a dermatologist at least each year from your teens. A dermatologist will perform mole mapping, which are high-resolution images of every mole on your body. This allows them to easily and quickly pick up changes.
It’s also vital that you routinely check your skin at home and familiarize yourself with the moles on your body. Often you are the first person to notice a change in shape, colour and texture. These changes, along with itching, can be an early sign of Melanoma. Melanoma is one of the most deadly skin cancers. If left too late, it gets into your bloodstream and will quickly spread to other parts of your body. So if you spend a lot of time in the sun, make sure you’re routinely examining your skin
8. Colorectal Cancer
Would you say you suffer from cramps, bloating, excessive gas and blood in your stool? Have you recently lost a lot of weight and don’t know why? And even if you get eight hours of sleep, you’re still fatigued.
There may be a more sinister underlying medical condition that needs to be assessed—many of the symptoms listed above point to colorectal cancer. Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men worldwide. You have a 4,5% chance of developing colorectal cancer in your lifetime.
If you are worried that you may have colon cancer, don’t wait to be evaluated as early detection is key. Reach out to a Doctor today.
Type-2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in men. In recent years we’ve seen a substantial increase in Type-2 diabetes cases. While your body can make insulin, you just don’t make enough, or your body doesn’t recognize it. This leads to insulin resistance. Glucose builds up in your blood and affects the way your cells work.
This build-up of sugar can lead to dehydration, damage to the nerves and blood vessels around your eyes, kidney problems, hardening of the arteries, a stroke or heart attack. It can also result in a diabetic coma. Many of the signs and symptoms of type-2 diabetes could easily be mistaken for other less worrisome conditions. That’s why we recommend that you test for type-2 diabetes for all adults. If you have a family history of diabetes, you should speak to your doctor about getting assessed.
As you get older, it becomes harder to maintain a healthy weight. Your metabolism slows down, and you’re less active. Combine this lifestyle change with overeating and indulging in alcohol, and you can quickly become overweight. But when does overweight slip into obese?
You’re considered obese if your body mass index (BMI), the amount of fat in your body, is above 30. Obesity is dangerous. It leads to the thickening of your arteries, making it more difficult for your blood to pass through to your heart. This pressure can result in a life-threatening heart attack.
So how do we determine if you’re obese or simply overweight? At Welwitschia Hospital, our doctors will measure your waist circumference with a tape measure. And we’ll use callipers to measure the thickness of your skinfold above your hip. If we determine that you are obese, a nutritionist and fitness coach will be consulted to discuss a healthy diet and weight-loss regime.
11. HIV Test
HIV isn’t something that happens to other people. It can happen to anyone at any time, and it can happen to you. Whether you’ve had one partner or multiple, it’s vital that you get tested for HIV at least once a year. The test takes all of five minutes and consists of a small blood sample taken from your finger.
Thanks to breakthroughs in modern medicine, HIV is manageable. Many HIV positive people are living long, healthy lives, so know your status and be careful. Don’t have unprotected sex or inject yourself with used needles.
From 18 onwards, we recommend you get tested for HIV. You should also be tested if you’ve had multiple sexual partners, unprotected sex with someone who is HIV positive, or you’ve been diagnosed with herpes, gonorrhoea, syphilis or chlamydia.
A long life is something to celebrate. We want you to embrace getting older but understand that your body needs to be taken care of. It’s a bit like a car. It requires a routine check-up. So even if you feel good, arrange to see your doctor every few years for a regular medical assessment.
Conditions such as high cholesterol, hypertension and cancer kill. But all are treatable if caught early. Take control of your health and book an appointment with our team of doctors at Welwitschia Hospital. Find a Doctor here.