Men need care, checkups tooBy Charles E. Buban
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Men are supposed to be tough, able to endure pain without talking about it, right?
But according to one specialist in men’s health, this “grin and bear it” type of attitude isn’t helping and is in fact the main reason so many men suddenly die from diseases like stroke, heart attack, colon and testicular cancer.
“Perhaps, this is part of how a lot of men were raised. However men should change this attitude, otherwise they will continue to live a much shorter lives –
men the world over are dying earlier than women who tend to live five to 10 years longer,” said Dr. Quincy Raya of the Asian Institute of Longevity Medicine (www.ailm.asia), a medical facility specializing in anti-aging medicine, most especially for men.
Raya noted that men these days do not really pay much attention toward their health, unlike women who ever since they were young were encouraged to take a closer look at their health by taking regular screenings as well as checkups.
“Men on the other hand are taught to be tough and brave and they avoid going to the doctor unless it is extremely unavoidable or when the symptoms are already unbearable. This is usually the time when the disease has already progressed significantly that management and cure is extremely difficult,” Raya said.
The doctor laments that Men’s Health Month this June, is not observed here in the Philippines.
Improving men’s health
“We want to change this as we launched The Men’s Health Society Philippines, which hopes to bring together a multidisciplinary team whose focus is improving men’s health in general,” Raya explained.
By scheduling free lectures at the clinic located at Liberty Plaza building on HV de la Costa Street, Raya hoped to encourage more men, especially the fathers and the male elderly, to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury, and live as long as women do.
“Aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle with good habits, proper food, nutrition and exercise, it needs to be inculcated in men that screening may be one of the best ways in which diseases and ailments can be prevented and they can maintain a healthy lifestyle,” she urged.
Raya enumerated the following ailments that men should watch out for and must be screened for:
1.Prostate cancer. Screening should start at age 40 or 45. A simple digital rectal exam as well as a blood test of PSA levels are very important, especially if one or more male members of the family have developed prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is highly curable when caught early.
2.Erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction or ED is very common, especially after prostate removal so men should not wait for their prostate condition to get worse.
3.Heart disease/ high blood pressure/ high cholesterol. Raya said that if heart disease runs in your family or if your blood pressure or cholesterol levels are already high, don’t wait for symptoms to appear and ask your doctor about taking medications to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Raya also reminded that because men’s testosterone levels start to decline starting around middle age – the so-called andropose that may begin at age 40 – the levels of “bad” cholesterol starts to increase while that of the “good” cholesterol decreases, making men more vulnerable to heart disease and stroke.
4.Weight increase. Although not deadly, Raya said that watching your weight also prevents one from developing so many ailments including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and arthritis.
5.Diabetes. A large percentage of Filipino males may already have signs of prediabetes (elevated blood sugar), which could be detected through a simple blood test. If left unattended, this may soon lead to type 2 diabetes which can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and loss of limb.
6.Stroke. Stroke is sudden and sometimes a single attack is enough to kill a patient. However, Raya explained that one may be able to avoid this deadly condition if that person is able to manage outlying conditions including elevated cholesterol levels. Seek immediate help if you suddenly develop weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg, confusion, speech or comprehension problems, vision loss, dizziness, or difficulty with walking, balance or coordination.
But of course, there are factors that cannot be helped, according to Raya, which makes females somewhat superior.
“Women have the heart-protecting advantage of estrogen – sex hormone abundant in women – at least until menopause. It acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing the free radicals that damage cells and accelerate aging,” she explained.
Raya also said women’s monthly menstrual cycle may also help them shed excess iron stored in their bodies that contributes to the formation of free radicals.
However, Raya warned that the females shouldn’t take their longer life expectancy for granted considering that if they decide to adopt unhealthy habits, such as a poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle and smoking, this will disappear.