By Michelle Lobaito, Army Public Health Nursing
June is National Men's Health Month. Let's explore what you can do to stay healthy and prevent disease. You can get certain screening tests and practice healthy behaviors. Starting healthy behaviors now can help prevent disease in the future.
• Avoid all tobacco: Smoking remains the nation's leading cause of premature, preventable death. During 2000-2004, approximately 443,000 premature deaths in the United States each year were attributed to cigarette smoking. Smoking causes deaths from heart disease, stroke, lung and other types of cancer, erectile dysfunction and chronic lung diseases. If you smoke, dip or chew, talk to your doctor about quitting. You can get medication and counseling to help you quit. Fort Drum Army Public Health Nursing also offers Tobacco Use Cessation program. Contact 315-772-6404 for more information or to enroll.
• Alcohol only in moderation: Excessive alcohol use includes binge drinking (defined as alcohol consumption that brings BAC to 0.08 percent or more), any alcohol use by people under the age of 21 and any use of alcohol use by pregnant women. Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions to include unintentional injuries (including traffic injuries), falls, drownings, burns and unintentional firearm injuries. About 35 percent of intimate partners and children that report being victims of violence report that offenders are under the influence of alcohol. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases, neurological impairments and social problems. Some of the signs and symptoms of severe alcohol use disorder are the inability to limit drinking, continuing to drink despite personal or professional problems, needing to drink more to get the same effect and wanting to drink so badly you can't think of anything else.
• Wearing helmets and seatbelts: Since head injuries account for a majority of motorcycle fatalities, protection is vital (head injury was specified on 42 percent of the death certificates for motorcycle drivers and passengers). Seat belts are the most effective safety devices in vehicles today, estimated to save 9,500 lives each year.
Other Preventive measures you should take is to have screening tests done at the frequency and ages recommended. These health screenings can help identify problems or potential problems early when they are most treatable. Discuss with your doctor about which screening test you should have. Based on scientific evidence, The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has made the following recommendations:
• Obesity: One way to keep your body healthy is to watch your weight. You can get to your healthy weight and stay there by doing two things: eating right and being physically active. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight with normal BMI equaling 18.5-24.9. You can find more information on BMI and a calculator to find your own BMI at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website, www.nhlbisupport.com/BMI.
• Cholesterol Checks: Have your cholesterol checked at least every five years, starting at age 35. If you use tobacco, have diabetes, have high blood pressure or if heart disease runs in your family, talk with your doctor about being tested earlier.
• Blood Pressure Checks: Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years. High blood pressure is 130/80 or higher. Since managing your high blood pressure is the most important thing you can do to lessen your risk of stroke, treatment for high blood pressure can save your life.
• Colorectal Cancer Test: Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you. How often you need to be tested will depend on which test you have.
• Diabetes Test: Have a test to screen for diabetes if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Research has found moderate weight loss and exercise can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes among adults at high-risk for diabetes.
• Depression: Your emotional health is as important as your physical health. If you have felt "down," sad or hopeless over the last two weeks or have felt little interest or pleasure in doing things, you may be depressed. Talk to your doctor about being screened for depression.
• Sexually Transmitted Diseases: According to Center of Disease Control and Prevention statistics, one in two young people will get a sexually transmitted disease by the age of 25. If you have been sexually active, you are at risk for an STD. Talk with your doctor about being tested for STDs if you have risk factors. Service Members, did you know Army Public Health Nursing has a walk-in clinic at Bowe Troop Medical Clinic on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. for free and confidential testing.
• Self-Testicular Exams: Self-testicular exams should be done monthly, preferably during or right after a hot shower or bath. The scrotum (skin that covers the testicles) is most relaxed then, which makes it easier to examine the testicles. Males between 19-40 are at the highest risk. Notify your doctor immediately if you find anything unusual. For detailed information on how to do self-testicular exams visit the testicular cancer resource center at www.TCRC.ACOR.org.
For more information on staying healthy visit www.CDC.gov or call Fort Drum Army Public Health Nursing at 315-772-6404.