International Men’s Health Week

7 Top Medical Tests Every Man Should Have Done

Men’s Health Week, celebrated during the week ending on Father’s Day, started in the US in 1994 and expanded globally at the World Congress on Men’s Health in 2002 in Vienna, Austria. It then became known as International Men’s Health Week, which is a week devoted to—guess what?—increasing awareness of issues around men’s health. On a macro level, it encourages developing health policies and services. On a micro level, it encourages early detection and treatment of diseases in men all over the world.

One of the best ways to keep your body running like a finely tuned engine is having medical tests done at regular intervals. Yes, it’s annoying, and yes it can be a pain.  Maybe you’re afraid something will be found and more comfortable not knowing what’s wrong, but it’s a lot worse to have something turn into a big issue when it could have been easily treated. Getting into a routine with regular testing at specific age intervals is the best way to get on the road to good health.

Here’s the recommended maintenance schedule from Men’s Health Network. They vary in invasiveness and intensity, but view them as an investment in your future self. We all want to enjoy our retirement and golden years. Taking a step toward prevention and treatment now makes that more likely.

1. Blood Tests and Urinalysis
Ages 20-30, have these tests performed every three years, every two years during ages 40-49, and every year after age 50. Some of the things doctors will be screening for is high cholesterol, diabetes, and kidney or thyroid dysfunction. You may not be experiencing any symptoms, but these tests can detect if something is off.

2. Blood Pressure
Start at any age—even childhood—and at least once per year. It’s one of the easiest tests out there (and home kits make it even more accessible). One in five adults suffer from hypertension, or elevated blood pressure, which has no symptoms but can damage organs. It puts a strain on your heart, increasing the chances of a stroke or heart attack.

3. PSA Blood Test
Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of death in men in the US. Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels rise during abnormalities within the body such as infection, enlargement, or cancer. Get this ever year after age 50. Some medical associations recommended getting a baseline at age 40 and having higher risk populations (African Americans, family history) start at that age as well.

4. Rectal Exam
Don’t worry, this is not as invasive as a colonoscopy. It screens for hemorrhoids, lower rectal problems, colon, and prostate cancer. Starting at age 20, this is recommended to be done every year.

5. Hemoccult (Fecal Occult Blood) Test
Another test related to colorectal cancer, this should be done yearly after age 40. This is a simple test to check for hidden blood in the stool.

6. EKG
With heart disease being the leading cause of death in men, it’s no surprise that an electrocardiogram (EKG), which screens for abnormalities in the heart, is on this list. Get a baseline at age 30, every two years between ages 40-49, and every year after age 50.  

7. Colonoscopy
You knew it was coming, right? When it comes to health screenings, colonoscopies probably win as “least favorite”, but are essential for colorectal health. Colonoscopy kits are even popular gag gifts for 50+ birthday parties. But it’s no joke--colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death in men. Start at age 50, and continue every 3-4 years.

Medical testing and screenings are vital to your health, and it doesn’t stop with the ones listed above, either. More standard tests, like eye exams and hearing tests, should ramp up as you age and your doctor may recommend more specialized tests based on personal risks or symptoms. Self-exams to check for testicular, oral, or skin cancer should also be performed.  While they might not be the most ideal way to pass an afternoon, simple screenings are definitely better than dealing with a major life event, like a heart attack or advanced cancer.

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