HealthONE - June 03, 2019

Studies have shown that men are more likely to drink too much, smoke more frequently and deal with their feelings in unhealthy ways. Only 4 out of 10 men see a doctor when they should.

As men are more prone to neglect their health, it's important to be aware of the common health mistakes men make. For men, not taking care of themselves can lead to serious health consequences later in life.

Here are some of the worst health habits and behaviors men are more likely to engage in:

Skipping out on annual or routine doctor visits

Research has consistently shown that men are less likely to go to the doctor than women. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, men often wait to seek medical care or don't even mention medical problems to their loved ones.

In some cases, men might think they don't have time to go to the doctor, or they don't have a doctor they trust. Men might also assume that their symptoms aren't serious or that they can "tough it out."

However, men who don't go to the doctor when they are due for a checkup could face more health problems down the line. Visiting your doctor isn't just important when you're sick (like when you have an infection or the flu) but is also necessary for your long-term health.

Men who skip regular doctor visits may be neglecting important health screenings and vaccinations. Men may also be missing out on regular checkups that monitor their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. For men, scheduling routine doctor visits can be instrumental in their preventative care.

Not learning how to handle or manage feelings in a healthy way

In the past several decades, research has revealed that men, regardless of age or ethnicity, are less likely than women to seek help for coping with stress and depression. While women have higher rates of depression overall, studies have shown that depression can go unrecognized, undiagnosed and untreated in men.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men account for 76 percent of suicides. Compared to women, men are also less likely to admit feelings of stress.

For both men and women, identifying and treating health issues in the early stages typically leads to better outcomes. If men are concerned about their mental health, they should watch out for signs and symptoms such as:

  • Anger and aggression
  • Changes in mood, energy level and appetite
  • Difficult sleeping
  • Trouble focusing or concentrating
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Sadness
  • Suicidal thoughts

If a man is experiencing any of these symptoms, he should talk to a doctor. Along with medication and therapy, there are multiple ways to treat depression and anxiety disorder, such as exercise, deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness meditation and making other lifestyle changes.

Overlooking dental appointments

Most men only brush their teeth an average of 1.9 times per day, which is below the recommended amount of brushing two times per day. When it comes to oral health, men are more likely than women to develop oral cancers, throat cancers and gum disease.

Men who neglect their oral health could also be impacted by other health problems. A 2018 study presented by the American Heart Association found that adults who brush their teeth less than twice a day for less than two minutes have a higher risk of heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Skipping dental checkups and neglecting oral hygiene has also been linked to some chronic health issues, like diabetes.

Most men should visit the dentist twice a year and maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing. See a dentist if you notice signs of poor oral health, such as toothaches, sensitivity, bleeding, sore gums, cracked or broken teeth, or popping of the jaw.

Drinking excessively

According to the CDC, men are more likely to drink too much than women. Reports show that men are nearly twice as likely to binge drink and 23 percent of men admit to binge drinking five times a month.

Excessive drinking can be very bad for your health and is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, stroke, depression, other mental health issues and alcoholism.

While the safest thing to do is not drink, the 2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that for men who do drink, they should limit themselves to no more than two drinks per day.

If you think you may be abusing alcohol, or know someone who is, talk to your doctor or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's confidential hotline at 1-800-662-HELP for more resources.

Not wearing sunscreen

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), men are more likely than women to develop melanoma, which is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Men are also less likely to survive this disease.

A 2016 survey conducted by the AAD discovered that men tend to be less informed about skin cancer. They are also less likely to wear sunscreen. It's possible that men's skin is thicker, with less fat underneath than women. As a result, men's skin may be more susceptible to damage from harmful UV rays and may react more intensely to sun exposure than women's. Men's skin might also not heal as well from sun damage.

Men should wear sunscreen regularly and reduce their sun exposure by wearing hats and long-sleeved shirts. Men should talk to a dermatologist about the risks of melanoma if they are: over the age of 50; have large or unusual moles on their body; have fair skin; or have or a family history of skin cancer. Men need to pay attention to their skin and notice any changes, like unusual spots or itching.

Not talking to their doctor about their sexual health

Many men suffer from sexual or urinary problems at some point in their life -- but they don't talk about it. Men often have difficulty discussing these health issues with their own doctor.

It's important for men to bring up these issues with their physician. Erectile dysfunction (ED) could be a red flag for vascular disease. Other serious health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney and liver disease, cancer treatment and multiple sclerosis, can all lead to ED as well.

For men, sexual health issues could be linked to work-related stress, past sexual trauma or relationship problems. Sexual dysfunction could be the result of taking certain medications, smoking, heavy drinking or being overweight. If a man is having difficulty urinating, this could be a sign of benign prostatic hyperplasia or another urinary health issue.

The first step is getting more comfortable talking to your doctor about sexual or urinary health problems. Men should trust their doctor, who can help them find treatment options, which will, in turn, improve their sex life.

Smoking

Many men know that smoking is bad for their health, but some men continue to smoke. Reports from 2016 indicated that 18 percent of men in the U.S. still smoke. Smoking can result in an increased risk of heart disease, lung disease, cancer, stroke and infertility. Men who smoke are 17 times more likely to die from bronchitis and emphysema. Men who smoke are also 23 times more likely to die from trachea, lung or bronchus cancer.

Your doctor can help you quit smoking or refer you to a smoking cessation program. The American Lung Association's Freedom From Smoking program is also a good resource. If you have a hard time quitting smoking, seek out help from a doctor or smoking cessation support group.

Generally, all adults should be getting at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, or 75 to 100 minutes of vigorous activity weekly.

Only 26 percent of men in the U.S. are meeting these physical activity goals every week. Also, men don't always include balance, strength and flexibility training in their workout program. Additionally, men are more likely to be overweight compared to women.

Exercise is a crucial part of keeping your mind and body healthy. Exercise triggers the release of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine -- all chemicals in the brain that work to ease stress, lift your mood and boost your energy levels. Regular physical activity can also reduce men's risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome and some cancers.

Incorporating strength, flexibility and balance training into your workouts can lower one's risk of injury, build muscle and improve your range of motion. Stretching should also be an important aspect of your fitness routine.

Engaging in risky activities or behaviors

Studies have shown that men are more likely to drink heavily and take certain risks, like driving too fast or not wearing a seatbelt. The third leading cause of death among men is unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, traffic accidents and drug overdoses.

A survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic found that in 42 percent of the men polled, it took brushes with disaster for them to finally open up about their health. The rush or high you might feel when participating in a risky or "extreme" activity isn't worth your life.

For men concerned about their health, the most important thing is to get regular checkups and don't hesitate to talk to your doctor about any health problem you may be encountering. Preventative care can go a long way in keeping you healthy, allowing men to live longer, happier lives.

HealthONE has a longstanding reputation for expert care throughout the Denver metro. Whether your aging parent is in need of a hip replacement or your infant is suffering from persistent ear infections, we have board certified specialists available to care for all ages.