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The A-Z Guide to Men's Health

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Guys, let’s be honest. You may not always be the best at paying attention to your health needs. But have no fear, men’s health experts are here with the alphabet of men’s health to help you out!

Read through this A-Z guide to become more aware of health conditions that could affect men.

Men's health at UnityPoint Clinic.

A. Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that begins between the toes. Around 15-25 percent of the population has athlete’s foot at any given time. It’s likely to appear in people who become sweaty while wearing tight-fitting shoes. A rash that stings, itches and burns will appear, indicating the fungal infection. Athlete’s foot is contagious and spreads through towels, clothing and floors. In mild cases of athlete’s foot, an over-the-counter ointment can take care of the infection. If the case is more serious, a doctor may prescribe antifungal pills.

B. Bipolar Disorder

Cases of bipolar disorder are equal between men and women, but men are more prone to develop bipolar disorder earlier and have more severe symptoms. A person is more likely to develop bipolar disorder if family members also have it. Bipolar disorder can cause troubled relationships with friends and family and problems at school or work. Therapy, education and medication are all used to treat bipolar disorder.

C. Colorectal Cancer

The risk of developing colorectal cancer in men is about one in 20 (five percent). The risk of developing colorectal cancer is lower in women than it is in men. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2011, 70,099 men were diagnosed and 26,804 men died from colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 49,700 deaths from this cancer in 2015. Getting screened for colorectal cancer has allowed for more cancers to be found earlier and removing polyps that were found during screenings that could turn into cancer.

D. Diabetes

In the United States during 2014, 15.5 million men were diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes can have an affect on all parts of the body. Health conditions associated with diabetes are erectile dysfunction, low testosterone and obesity. Men with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have erectile dysfunction than a man without diabetes. By keeping blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol at healthy levels, men can lower their risk of sexual problems associated with diabetes.

E. Erectile Dysfunction

About five percent of men older than 40 have erectile dysfunction. That number increases to about 15 percent of men at the age of 70. Men who are older are more likely to take medication for a health condition, which can hinder erections. Some of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction is stress, guilt or a new partner after ending a previous relationship. To reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction, a man should exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet, reduce stress and have regular checkups with his primary care physician.

F. Flatulence

We always have intestinal gas in our stomachs, but too much intestinal gas can cause burping or flatulence. Gas forms when the digestive system doesn’t break down certain components of food. Most men pass gas approximately 10-22 times a day. Gas is a normal part of daily activities, but excessive gas may be a sign of a digestive disorder. Digestive disorders result in excessive gas, making a guy pass gas more than 20 times a day. These disorders could be:

  • Dumping syndrome
  • Food intolerance
  • Celiac disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

Gas is very rarely a sign of something serious, but if your gas is constant and you’re also vomiting, have diarrhea or constipation, make an appointment with your doctor to find out if there is something wrong.

G. Gum Disease

Gum or periodontal disease is more common in men (56 percent) and than in women (38 percent). It’s possible that it is so much higher in men because men are less likely to regularly visit their dentist. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, guys have higher incidence of dental plaque and tartar. Not only does gum disease affect your mouth, it can also impact other health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, impotence and prostate health.

H. Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. Over half the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men, killing 307,225 men. That’s one in four male deaths. Between 70 to 89 percent of sudden cardiac events happen in men. As a man, protecting your heart is important. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and regularly visiting your primary care physician can lower a man’s risk of heart disease.

I. Influenza

Men are more likely than women to become sick from the flu because the flu vaccine is more effective in women. Men with high testosterone levels were found to have a weaker response to the flu vaccine.

J. Jock Itch

Jock itch is very common, and is a fungal infection in the groin region and upper thighs. Wearing tight clothing, sweating while playing sports, humid weather and sharing clothes with others can cause jock itch. Symptoms of jock itch include itching, skin redness, flaking skin and chafing. An over-the-counter cream, spray or powder should clear up the infection. However, a guy may need to visit his doctor for a prescription antifungal ointment.

K. Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is the eighth leading cause of death in the U.S. and is more common among men than women. According to the National Kidney Foundation, men who have kidney disease are more likely to progress to kidney failure. It’s not cheap to treat kidney failure. Medicare states that in 2012, it spent $87 billion on people with various stages of kidney disease. Signs of kidney disease are fatigue, weakness, painful urination, need to urinate often, blood in urine and swollen eyes. If kidney disease is detected early, its progression can be slowed or prevented.

L. Lung Cancer

According to the American Lung Association, more men than women are diagnosed with lung cancer. Lung cancer causes more deaths than colorectal, breast and prostate cancer each year. Lung cancer kills an average of 87,000 men per year, making it the deadliest cancer in men. This form of cancer is not usually detected until it is in its later stages. A persistent cough or coughing up blood could be signs of lung cancer. Talk with your doctor if you are having any of these symptoms.

M. Mental Health

Certain mental illnesses are harder to identify in men. Why? Symptoms differ between men and women, making it harder to recognize mental health disorders. If a man is depressed, he may not appear sad but irritable or angry. It’s easy to feel ashamed or embarrassed about having a mental illness, but it’s important to talk to a health care provider about what options are available. Getting treatment will help bring a mental health disorder under control.

N. Nutrition

Nutrition is important for everyone. Maintaining a nutritious diet rich in vegetables, fruit and whole grains can help maintain a healthy weight and prevent certain chronic conditions.

O. Obesity

Nearly three in four men over the age of 20 are overweight or obese. Being obese or overweight is one of the main factors in developing type 2 diabetes. Obesity can result in a decreased sex drive, cancers, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and sleep apnea. Treatment can be a combination of diet, exercise, treatment or weight loss surgery in extreme cases.

P. Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, about one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his life. Risk factors for prostate cancer include age, family history and race. Prostate cancer could be found early through certain tests, even if the man is not displaying any symptoms associated with prostate cancer. Some sign of this form of cancer include problems urinating, blood in urine, pain in the hips and weakness.

Q. Questions

Wait, questions aren’t a medical condition, so why are they on this A-Z guide? It can be a struggle for a man to go to the doctor, and when he does finally get there, he may be embarrassed to ask his physician some of those awkward questions. It’s important to ask your doctor about any concerns you may have about health. This way, anything that could be serious will be addressed.

R. Reactive Arthritis

Young men are more likely to develop reactive arthritis , which is joint inflammation that occurs as a reaction to an infection elsewhere in the body. Both men and women can develop reactive arthritis, but men have more severe symptoms than women. Young men are nine times more likely to develop reactive arthritis from sexually transmitted infections than women.

S. Skin Cancer

Men aged 15-39 are 55 percent more likely to die from melanoma than women. In 2015, there are an estimated 44,670 new cases of melanoma to be diagnosed in men. One in 35 men will develop melanoma in their lifetime. Melanoma could be prevented by applying sunscreen, wearing proper clothing, like hats and sunglasses, and by not spending extended hours in the sun.

T. Testicular Cancer

Though this form of cancer is rare, it should not be ignored. In 2015, roughly 8,430 cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed and 380 men will die. The survival rate is very high as testicular cancer can usually be treated successfully. According to the American Cancer Society, the average age of diagnosis is around 33.

U. Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the unintentional leakage of urine, and 625,000 men in the United States have urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence can occur because of problems with the prostate or with the nerves. Fortunately, urinary incontinence is treatable, but to discover the root of the problem, you must have a conversation with your doctor.

V. Vasectomy

A vasectomy is a minor surgery to interrupt the transportation of sperm between the testicles and the urethra. A man’s sexual activity will not be affected by a vasectomy as he will still be able to have an orgasm after intercourse with a partner. A vasectomy cannot cause impotence.

W. Walking Pneumonia

Men who develop pneumonia tend to have worse symptoms than women and are 30 percent more likely to die from pneumonia than women. The most common symptoms of pneumonia are shortness of breath while exerting yourself, fever, chills and cough. A doctor would decide whether or not the man who has pneumonia could be treated at home or would require a stay in the hospital.

X. Xerostomia

You are probably thinking, what on earth is xerostomia? Xerostomia is more commonly referred to as dry mouth and is usually a symptom of a medical condition. Dry mouth makes it difficult to taste food or even swallow. Over 400 medicines cause decreased production of saliva, as well as certain diseases, like diabetes, chemotherapy and nerve damage.

Y. Yeast Infection

Yes, men can get yeast infections too! In men, a yeast infection causes swelling and redness at the head of the penis, called balanitis. Men generally get yeast infections from having unprotected sex with a partner who has a yeast infection. An over-the-counter medication should treat the yeast infection, but if the rash doesn’t go away within a week, make an appointment with your doctor.

Z. Zoster Virus

Zoster virus may sound unfamiliar, but it’s otherwise known as shingles. In the United States, there are an estimated one million cases of shingles each year. Nearly one out of three people will develop the zoster virus in their lifetime. This virus is caused by the same virus that results in chickenpox. Shingles usually happens once in a person, but it is possible to have more than one episode. Shingles can be prevented by getting vaccinated. This vaccine is available at the doctor’s office.

Everyone, male or female, should schedule a checkup every 12 months with their primary care doctor. An annual checkup allows your doctor to get to know your body. Not all bodies are the same, and the better your primary care doctor understands what is normal for your body, the better he or she can pick up on early warning signs and offer preventive measures to keep you healthy. If you do not have a primary care doctor, UnityPoint Clinic has expert primary care providers who can guide your health care.