Research shows that, compared to women, men are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol, and generally lead less healthy lifestyles. But even men who consider themselves health buffs still need to constantly monitor their well-being.
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Why? Because appearances can be deceiving. You may look and feel like a superhero, but that deceptive cloak of invincibility will not make you immune from the effects of aging and the diseases that tend to accompany it.
According to Dr. Quincy Raya of Raya Wellness & Preventive Medicine, health is not only about what is physical, but what is mental and social as well. “It’s not just the absence of disease, it’s also about identifying and preventing conditions related to men,” she points out. Raya is the president of the Society of Men’s Health Philippines and she recently gave a talk titled “Self-Love for Men” that was hosted by Centuria Medical Makati. She says that men are especially susceptible to lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes (elevated blood sugar), hypertension (high blood pressure), and dyslipidemia (elevated cholesterol).
“Diabetes plus either hypertension, dyslipidemia, or an abdominal circumference of 34 inches and higher is called Metabolic Syndrome,” she explains. “This syndrome increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, and renal failure.”
In most cases, these diseases can be addressed by exercise, lifestyle modifications and maintenance medication. But constant monitoring is also essential in order to avoid the devastating complications that might occur, including blindness, further disability, and even death. “It’s not about worrying, but being more mindful of one’s body. This is especially true for older men, those 40 and above. It would be prudent to see a physician and undergo diagnostics to screen for hypertension and heart conditions,” Raya says. And for those who live an active lifestyle, they have to be more particular with their form, and ensure safety at all times.
In general, the more men age, the more diseases they need to guard against. Raya says that this is because the male hormone starts to decline by 40, and by then, they will begin to feel the effects of andropause, or male menopause. “Although the manifestations of andropause are less sudden than female menopause, most men over 40 will start to experience its 10 most common symptoms: abdominal (visceral) fat, low libido, erectile dysfunction, less drive, depression, insomnia, poor memory, fatigue, loss of lean muscle mass, body aches, and thinning hair.”
And if that isn’t alarming enough, there’s also male sexual dysfunction. “This is mainly due to either physical causes such as low testosterone, hypertension, stroke, diabetes; medications like anti-depressants, anti-hypertensives; smoking; alcohol; and drugs; or psychological causes such as concerns about sexual performance, relationship problems, depression, past sexual trauma, stress, or anxiety,” Raya enumerates.
The most common type of male sexual disorder, she says, is erectile dysfunction which is currently experienced by one out of three men, ages 40 and above.
Another related concern is the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). While it is no longer the death sentence it once was, HIV cases in the Philippines continues to increase at an alarming rate. “There has been a 32-fold increase of HIV cases from only 324 in 2007 to 11,123 in 2017,” Raya shares. In June 2018, she goes on to say, there were 28,045 HIV patients that were undergoing treatment, 97 percent of which are men.
An ounce of prevention…
Problem is, men are also more likely to put off routine checkups and delay seeing a medical professional. “We encourage men to address these health conditions at 40 years old by seeking medical advice from a physician in order to screen for these conditions,” she advises. “Early detection of disease is important in order to effect early treatment so men can live long, quality lives.”
Raya also says that women—be they mothers, sisters, wives, or partners—should “play a dynamic role in the health care of the family by encouraging men to implement a positive and healthy lifestyle.” And also to influence them to seek medical care when needed.
“Live a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition, appropriate exercise, and good sleep. Manage stress well. Do something you are passionate about,” she says. “Talk to your loved ones when feeling unwell. And when the need arises, go see your doctor.”
Dr. Quincy Raya can be reached at Raya Wellness & Preventive Medicine at Centuria Medical Makati Century City Kalayaan Ave. cor. Salamanca St. Brgy. Poblacion, Makati. For more information, visit their website