8 Ways Men Can Be Proactive About Their Health

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Interim Healthcare of Sarasota

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Aug 04, 2023

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Florida - Sarasota, Bradenton & Charlotte Counties

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Attention men: this article is for you. Yes, you! Maybe your wife or loved one casually slipped it into your inbox or left a copy on the counter. Just know she did it out of love–she wants to remind you it’s time to be proactive about your health!

 

Men develop different health needs as they age. So why do they often skip regular checkups and ignore aches and pains? That’s a great question. While heart disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol get a lot of attention, there are many other health concerns that are specific to men and shouldn’t be ignored. 

 

It’s time to take control of your health. Here are some tips to help you get started. 

 

1: Find a primary care physician and see them regularly

Ok, we know you’ve heard this a million times. But it’s our number one tip for a reason. If you don’t regularly check in with a primary care physician (PCP), it can make things really tough when you suddenly have a life-threatening illness or issue. Put simply, primary care providers are your first source of defense in leading a healthy life. 

 

Getting regular checkups from your PCP ensures that all your important numbers are in check including: 

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Weight
  • Hormone levels

When you see your PCP annually, your numbers are tracked year after year to see what trends might be occurring. Your annual check-up is also a good time to talk with your physician about any complaints are concerns you have noticed since your last visit. Your PCP plays a valuable role in your overall health, they and they can refer you to specialists when an issue is beyond their scope.

 

2: Don’t fall into the “medical gender gap”

The numbers speak for themselves here. According to the CDC, on average, men die about five years earlier than women. It’s important to listen to those who encourage you to take care of your health. Don’t brush off their concerns or any symptoms that appear suddenly or over time. Seeing your PCP regularly and staying attentive to your health is truly a matter of life and death.

 

3: Get back to the basics

You’ve heard this countless times, but it is crucial to get back to the basics. You can greatly improve your overall health if you:

  • Quit smoking if you smoke
  • Lose weight in a healthy manner
  • Exercise consistently
  • Know your numbers

Another benefit of having a PCP is that they can help you succeed in all of these areas. They want you to win and have the tools and resources to make it happen.

 

4: Watch your alcohol intake

Although it may be part of your routine to unwind at the end of the day, alcohol affects men differently than women. According to the CDC, men are more likely than women to drink excessively, which is associated with significant risks to men’s health and safety. And these risks increase with the amount of alcohol consumed. Men are also more likely than women to take other risks such as misusing other substances, having multiple sex partners, or not wearing a seat belt. When combined with alcohol, A man will further increase their risk of illness, injury or death. A good rule of thumb is two drinks or less per day.

 

5: Don’t ignore erectile dysfunction

What may seem like an unfortunate part of the aging process can sometimes lead to more than a less-than-stellar sex life. Erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of high blood pressure, diabetes, or other health issues. It all goes back to that relationship with your PCP–don’t be embarrassed to give them a call if you are concerned. They will check you out, and if underlying issues aren’t present, they can prescribe medication to help.

 

6: Prioritize your mental health as much as your physical health

Men are more than three times as likely to die by suicide than women. This is a very alarming fact. Referring to number 4 on our list above, men are also more likely to have been drinking prior to suicide.

 

It may be hard to check in on your mental status, but it’s crucial. While the stigma related to mental health disorders has decreased significantly in the past decade, men are still likely to fall prey to not seeking help with mental issues. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a loved one, a friend, or your PCP if you are experiencing anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts.

 

7: Get your regularly prostate exam and colonoscopy

Luckily, your trusty PCP will stay on top of you to make sure you get your prostate exam and colonoscopy. Prostate and colon cancer, like most cancers, are beatable if found early. Even though the exams can be uncomfortable, they can save your life. Don’t put off these routine screenings! 

 

8: Reach out to an orthopedic specialist if you are having joint or spine pain

Maybe you’ve always had back issues, or maybe your knee just started locking up when you were working in the yard–whatever the issue, don’t put off seeing a specialist who can help. Your treatment may be as simple as a few visits to physical therapy or a new medication to relieve the pain. Sure, you may also need surgery to repair an old injury, but don’t let pain keep you out of the game!

 

Have we convinced you to take charge of your health? Do your loved ones a favor and follow these tips to make sure you are around for many years to come.

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Doctors and pharmacists prefer these treatments for moderate to severe or persistent allergy symptoms. These treatments are also beneficial for itchy, irritated or watery eyes as well as nasal congestion.2ndgeneration Antihistamines: These medications which include Claritin (generic is loratadine), Allegra (generic is fexofenadine) and Zyrtec (generic is cetirizine) are good for milder allergy symptoms, or those symptoms that occur occasionally. It is very important that seniors stick with the 2nd generation antihistamines and AVOID Benadryl (generic is diphenhydramine) or Chlor-Trimeton (generic is chlorpheniramine). Antihistamines such as Benadryl can cause excessive sedation, worsen glaucoma, and promote increased fall risk in elderly patients. Therefore, it is best to avoid Benadryland Chlor-Trimeton when you get older.Nasal Antihistamines: These include brands Astepro and Astelin, and these medications are considered add-ons to nasal steroids. If you are still suffering from allergy symptoms while on a nasal steroid, these may provide additional help.Ophthalmic antihistamines: For those with watery or itchy eyes, in which nasal steroids are not quite enough, medications such as Zaditor (generic ketotifen) or Pataday (generic olopatadine) are eye drops that can provide additional benefit.Lastly for uncontrolled nasal congestion one can consider nasal decongestant medications such as Afrin (generic is oxymetazoline). Realize there are some warnings with these medications. They can cause rebound nasal congestion if used for 3 days or more. Reserve this medication for nasal congestion that does not respond to nasal steroids, or for the occasional nasal stuffiness. If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, avoid this medication.The management of seasonal allergies includes nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic approaches. Nonpharmacologic measures include nasal irrigation and allergen avoidance (e.g., keeping windows closed, using window screen filters and air conditioning, limiting outdoor time during peak allergen season, showering after outdoor exposure). Choose a medication based on severity of symptoms, patient age, other medical conditions, and preferences.  Immunotherapy (subcutaneous or sublingual) can be considered if other management is not adequate or if the patient has seasonal allergies in combination with asthma. Alternative therapies (e.g., supplements, homeopathy, and acupuncture) have been used and promoted for seasonal allergies; however, there are insufficient data to recommend these therapies.--------------------------------------------------------------------------Seniors can help manage their seasonal allergies by incorporating an immunity-boosting diet that includes foods like apples, strawberries, ginger, leafy vegetables, walnuts, and fatty fish. It is crucial for caregivers of seniors to be aware of how seasonal allergies can impact older adults and provide the necessary care and support.If you are a senior or a caregiver of a senior experiencing seasonal allergies, it is recommended to seek guidance from healthcare professionals on how to effectively manage and alleviate allergy symptoms. Implementing strategies to minimize exposure to allergens and incorporating healthy lifestyle habits can significantly improve the quality of life for seniors dealing with seasonal allergies.As we grow older, our body changes and so does our immune system. Just as we no longer run as fast as we once did, we may lose our tolerance to potential allergens, from pollen to dog hair. And, on the flip side, we may build immunities to the things that once bothered us, research shows.  Nasal antihistaminesSee a comparison of nasal sprays for allergic rhinitis later in the document.Add-on therapy with nasal steroids, if needed (especially for nasal congestion).1,3,8Under two years (Astepro [US]) or under five   years (Astelin [US]).9Under six years (olopatadine).9Neither available as single-ingredient nasal sprays in Canada. Ophthalmic antihistaminesAdd-on therapy for eye symptoms with nasal steroids, if needed.1Under three years (ketotifen, olopatadine [Canada]).9,15,16Under two years (olopatadine [US]).9 Decongestants (intranasal, oral)Inadequate response from a nasal steroid for nasal   congestion.2Use in combination with an oral antihistamine  (intranasal).3Intermittent nasal congestion.2Hypertension, arrhythmia, coronary heart disease, hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, diabetes, and benign prostatic hypertrophy (oral).2Prolonged use (more than three to five days) (intranasal).2,3With monoamine oxidase inhibitors.6Monotherapy (intranasal).6

Iron Deficiency in Women: Can You Be Iron Deficient Without Anemia?

You need iron to produce and maintain healthy red blood cells. When you lack enough iron youre at risk for developing anemia. But what you may not realize is that you can have low iron levels without being diagnosed as anemic. Its true that iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia, which is why doctors might rule out an iron problem if you test negative.If you have anemia, your red blood cell count is too low, commonly causing fatigue and weakness. About 20% of the worldwide population has iron-deficiency anemia, making it one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world. Your body needs iron to make enough healthy red blood cells.But three times as many people have low iron levels with a healthy amount of red blood cells. And doctors might not look any further or discover you are low in iron. If left undiagnosed and untreated, iron-deficiency can progress until your red blood cells diminish and you become anemic.Lets take a closer look at the symptoms and signs of iron deficiency without anemia and how its treated.Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Without AnemiaSo the diagnosis is different but are the symptoms the same? Will you suffer the same side effects as a person with diagnosed anemia? In some ways, yes. Both conditions share the most common symptoms, such as:Fatigue and lethargyTrouble focusing and concentratingMood changesWeakness while activeAnytime you notice these symptoms, its worthwhile to check with your doctor. Women should have their iron levels checked at least occasionally since women are very prone to iron-deficiency due to menstruation and childbirth. Your doctor can order blood tests to learn more about your iron and red blood cell count.Think of iron deficiency as a factory that falls behind production demands. It might take weeks for it to fall below the minimum productivity mark, and once it does, its tough to catch back up. Its the same with our iron stores. If we experience several different factors that are draining our iron stores, well use them up more quickly and be less equipped to rebuild them.What Causes Iron Deficiency?You may find one cause of low iron or three. Sometimes its a combination of factors. But the most common causes include:Not getting enough iron through food or supplementsNeeding more iron than usual (heavy bleeding, surgery, childbirth, etc.)Poor iron absorptionYoure more likely to develop iron deficiency if you:Are a vegetarian or vegan (meat, especially red meat, is iron-rich)Are pregnantAre still growing (children and teens)Are an athleteHave active celiac disease or inflammatory bowel diseaseHave had gastric bypass surgeryExperienced changes in stomach acid from H. pylori infection or from using proton pump inhibitors (a class of medication that treat acid reflux)Are of childbearing age, especially if your periods are heavyHave lost blood due to surgery or internal bleedingWhat Do Ferritin and Hemoglobin Have to Do with Iron Deficiency?Ferritin plays a critical role in iron deficiency, because it's a protein that stores and releases iron when needed. When youre running low on iron, your body pulls it from your ferritin reserves, and if not replenished, these stores can become depleted. This means that you can have low ferritin and temporarily have normal iron levels.According to the World Health Organization (WHO) low iron is equivalent to ferritin under 12 mcg/L. But other studies suggest you could be considered iron deficient with ferritin levels under 30 mcg/L. Blood tests are available to determine to ferritin levels and blood saturation.Hemoglobin can be impacted when your iron levels drop low enough for long enough. Its the part of your red blood cells that carry oxygen. But you need iron to make healthy red blood cells and hemoglobin. So the less iron in your bloodstream, the less hemoglobin, and the less oxygen your cells receive. This is what triggers that list of symptoms, including fatigue.What Is Anemia?You're diagnosed with anemia if your ferritin and hemoglobin (and red blood cells) are both low. This is considered iron-deficiency anemia and is very common. But if your hemoglobin is unaffected even though your ferritin is normal, its considered iron deficiency without anemia. However, if your ferritin levels dont improve, its likely to progress to anemia as youre unable to produce enough iron to make red blood cells and hemoglobin.Blood tests to diagnose anemia usually include ferritin and hemoglobin. Your doctor and run other tests to learn more about your red blood cells and how healthy they are. This can provide a more detailed picture of what is going on in your body.How Much Iron Do You Need?Women who menstruate require 18 mg of iron each day to maintain health. You may need more if youre pregnant or nursing. If you're postmenopausal you need 8 mg daily.You can get iron from several food sources, but the most easily absorbed iron comes from red meats. However, you can get plant-based iron from leafy green vegetables, beans, lentils, and iron-fortified breakfast cereals.How Do You Treat Iron Deficiency without Anemia?Your doctor will first consider your diet and recommend that you adjust your diet to include quality sources of iron. But if you have problems absorbing iron, this wont be enough. Often supplements are also advised.In more severe cases, your doctor might recommend iron infusions. When you receive iron infusions, you receive iron through an IV (intravenously). This is done over several visits. It gets iron into your system in greater quantities and more quickly.After treatment, whether through infusion or supplements, youll likely have follow up visits to see how the treatment is working and if there are any changes in your blood test results.How Much Iron Should You Take?You should have doctor supervision while taking iron supplements. Taking iron when your levels are within normal range can be dangerous. 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The small intestines are where most nutrient absorption happens.Other Celiac SymptomsFor some people, iron deficiency, or even anemia, is the primary symptom of celiac disease.You might have few, if any, gastrointestinal symptoms.Additional celiac symptoms include:DiarrheaConstipationAbdominal painNausea/vomitingLactose intoleranceUnexplained weight loss or gainFatigueMemory problemsBone or joint pain/arthritisBone lossSkin rashesMouth ulcersHeadachesIrregular menstrual cycleThis is just a short list of possible celiac symptoms, and remember that you might not have any symptoms at all other than low iron levels. Its also possible to have only non-digestive symptoms. Or, the digestive symptoms could be so subtle that you dont connect them to a possible celiac problem.Some evidence suggests that if your main digestive system is iron deficiency but with no digestive symptoms, your celiac disease may be more severe than those with additional symptoms.But once you have been on a gluten-free diet for a while, your small intestines can begin to heal. Your symptoms should also decrease.Treating Iron Deficiency When You Have Celiac DiseaseIf you have celiac disease, increasing dietary iron may not benefit you much. If your small intestines havent healed, you wont be able to absorb much or any of the iron from food. Its still important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. This will allow you to gain the nutrition that you can while also helping you avoid other consequences of an unhealthy diet.If you have celiac disease, youll need to rely more on supplements, and especially those that are easier to digest.Maintaining Healthy Iron Levels to Prevent DeficiencyDetecting low iron levels is the first step. Oftentimes, iron deficiency goes undetected until symptoms worsen. If you have unexplained fatigue, hair loss, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, and weakness during activity, you should see your doctor to rule out low iron levels.Be sure to eat a healthy, iron-rich diet and take iron supplements as your doctor prescribes. If your doctor hasnt been able to determine an obvious cause for your iron deficiency, you should test for celiac disease. Typically a blood test is first and, if warranted, is followed by an endoscopy to confirm small intestine damage.A gluten-free diet will eventually allow your small intestines to heal and perhaps begin absorbing iron properly again. But until then, youll need to continue taking an iron supplement.Tye Medical offers premium incontinence products in a variety of sizes and absorbency levels. Shop our online store for free and discreet shipping on all orders. 

What to Know About HRT Patches and Menopause

Your journey through menopause can range from mildly uncomfortable to downright unbearable. But thanks to modern medicine, you dont have to endure the most taxing of menopause symptoms. For some women, HRT patches are the answer to a smoother transition to menopause.Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patches are medicated sticky patches you apply to your skin. The patches contain hormones like estrogen, and doctors recommend them to ease menopause symptoms.The use of HRT patches brings many questions about safety, benefits versus downsides, and other forms of HRT available. Here is what you need to know about HRT patches.Uses for HRT PatchesHRT patches slowly release small amounts of hormones into your body. Often, HRT is prescribed to alleviate menopause symptoms but is also recommended to help with other conditions like:Increasing estrogen levels in women who dont make enough naturallyPreventing bone diseases, like osteoporosis, in postmenopausal womenHRT patches contain the hormone or combination of hormones that you need. This means that some patches may be estrogen-only or a combination of estrogen and another hormone like progesterone. You might hear estrogen-only patches referred to as subdermal estradiol patches. Estradiol is the synthetic, bioidentical form of estrogen.Can You Switch from Another Type of HRT to a Patch?If you have completed the transition to menopause, meaning that your periods have stopped, you can start an HRT patch immediately without ever having used HRT before. You can also begin HRT patches right away if you are switching from another type of combined HRT that is also continuous release.However, not all HRT types are continuous release. Some are sequential combined HRT, which means you take a combo hormone medication on certain consecutive days followed by a break. In this case, its best to wait until you complete your current cycle of medication before switching to the HRT patch.Even knowing this, you should consult with your doctor before switching from your current HRT medication to HRT patches.Benefits of HRTAs mentioned, hormone replacement therapy patches are frequently used to treat moderate to severe menopause symptoms. This can improve your quality of life as your body goes through a major hormone shift.Common menopause symptoms that can become burdensome but improve with HRT include:Difficulty sleepingMemory problemsUrge incontinence (urgent urination)Hot flashesVaginal dryness, itching, burningAnxietyDepressionNight sweatsMood changesDecreased libidoVaginal infectionsUsing HRT patches and other forms of HRT can drastically reduce menopause symptoms.What Other HRT Options Are Available?HRT tablets are the most common way to receive hormone replacement therapy. HRT tablets are proven to reduce and even prevent common menopause symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. They are typically taken once daily with water. Like patches, Oral HRT contains different combinations of hormones in varying strengths and are prescribed according to your specific needs.HRT gels are applied directly to your skin. They usually contain estradiol, a synthetic, bioidentical form of estrogen.HRT sprays also contain estradiol. You spray them on your skin and allow it to absorb.Which option you choose is a matter of preference, and your doctor may suggest a method that would be most effective for your specific hormone needs.Why Use HRT Patches Instead of Other HRT Forms?Suppose your menopause symptoms fluctuate erratically and are difficult to regulate with other HRT methods. In that case, the continuous release of hormones through the patch can bring consistency to your symptoms while decreasing their severity.You may also opt for HRT patches if you struggle to remember to take pills or have difficulty swallowing them. The patch is a practical way to solve both issues and ensure you receive your medication on schedule and in the proper dose.Other forms of HRT can also cause indigestion and even blood clots. Indigestion isnt an issue with patches like it is with pills, and the chances of developing blood clots are lower with an HRT patch. Additionally, if youre overweight, smoke, or are migraine sufferer, youre more prone to blood clots and can benefit from using the patch instead of other forms.Some doctors prefer to prescribe HRT patches because absorbing hormones through the skin means they bypass your liver. This can prevent damage to your liver over time. Its also possible that bypassing the liver makes patches more effective.Downsides of Using the HRT PatchSide effects from hormone replacement therapy are rare but can happen.Side Effects of HRT PatchesSide Effects of HRT TabletsWeight gainWeight gainHeadachesHeadaches and nauseaSkin irritationSkin irritationMenstrual painBreast painStomach cramps and diarrheaBack painDischarge from vaginaIf you experience any of these side effects while taking an HRT treatment, you should consult with your doctor.Tips for Using HRT PatchesThe most common places for patch placement are your lower abdomen (below your waistline) and your upper buttock area.For your HRT patch to be most effective, you should NOT apply it to the following areas:BreastsCreases or folds of skinLight exposed areasUnder tight clothing or elasticOily, damaged, or irritated skinOnce you apply your patch, avoid using creams, lotions, or powders in the area.How to Apply an HRT PatchOpen the package and remove the patch.Peel the backing from the patch and press the sticky side against the skin on your lower abdomen or upper buttock.Press firmly on the patch for 10 seconds using your palm or fingers. Ensure the edges of the patch are firmly fixed.Wear the patch continuously until its time to remove it then gently peel it off.Once removed, fold the patch in half, pressing the sticky sides together. Dispose of it securely to keep it away from children and pets.If you have a sticky residue on your skin afterward, wait 15 minutes and then use oil or lotion to remove the residue.How Long Should You Wear a Patch?The length of time you wear the patch varies by brand and other circumstances. You may apply a patch once or twice a week for a specific amount of time or wear it continuously for three weeks followed by a week without a patch. Its also possible that you wear the patch all the time, replacing it immediately with a fresh one.Regardless, you must wear the HRT patch according to your doctors prescription. Usually, your patch will remain fixed even during bathing or showering. But if your patch falls off, you can apply a new one to a different area once your skin is cool and dry.Are HRT Patches Safe?Hormone replacement therapy patches are largely considered safe and effective but arent the best option for everyone. If any of the following applies to you, using the HRT patch may not be advisable. Be sure to consult your doctor.Have had an allergic reaction to estrogen, progesterone, or other hormoneAre experiencing unexplained vaginal bleedingHave ever been diagnosed with breast cancer, endometrial cancer, or have a greater risk of developing themAre pregnant or breastfeedingHave had a recent heart attack, stroke, or anginaHave a history of blood clots or are more susceptible to themHave any of the following conditionsLupusDementiaUntreated endometrial hyperplasiaObesityMigraines or severe headachesDiabetesAsthmaHigh blood pressureEpilepsyUnderactive thyroidLow liver functionSome of these are very common conditions, which means that HRT is not a viable option for many people. HRT isnt recommended for some of these conditions, like hypothyroidism, because of HRTs negative interaction with the medications that treat them. Thats why you should discuss your medical conditions, all medications, and supplements youre taking with your doctor.Lifestyle Changes to Alleviate Menopause SymptomsYou can help reduce menopause symptoms further and increase the effectiveness of HRT when you adopt some key lifestyle changes like:Regular exercise: It can reduce hot flashes, boost your mood, and improve sleep quality.A cool bedroom: Sleeping in a cool bedroom can help prevent hot flashes and night sweats while you sleep.Cut back on alcohol and caffeine: If you regularly consume alcohol and caffeine youre more likely to experience hot flashes.Avoid spicy food: Spicy food is known to trigger hot flashes.Reduce stress: Since menopause can affect your mood, its important to keep your stress levels as low as possible to help manage emotions.Use herbal supplements: Some herbal supplements can help reduce menopause symptoms. Talk to your doctor about which supplements may be best for your symptoms.Stop smoking: Smoking increases the frequency of hot flashes and also increases your risk of conditions like heart disease and cancer.HRT for MenopauseIf lifestyle adjustments like exercise, stress reduction, and herbal supplements dont provide enough relief from troublesome menopause symptoms, then HRT can be an effective option for some women. Your doctor will know if you have any health conditions that would prevent you from safely using HRT patches or other forms of hormone replacement therapy.Its a matter of preference which form of HRT you choose, whether patches, tablets, gels, or sprays. Your doctor can guide you in which type of HRT is best for your needs.Side effects from HRT are possible, and you should notify your doctor if you experience any.