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The Guy's Guide to Head-to-Toe Health

How to prevent 9 health conditions that are common in men
By Anthony Peterson, MD, FAAD, Aristides Assimacopoulos, MD, Brian Kadow, MD, Ethan Kosova, MD, MPH, Marc Fallah, MD, FAASLD, Matthew Baugh, MD, Paul Signorino, MD, FACS, Shakaib Hayat, DO, Zeeshan Ali, MD

While the fundamentals of maintaining good health are the same for men and women, the risk of developing certain conditions can vary. Fortunately, establishing healthy habits can go a long way in keeping men feeling their best. During the month of November, in an effort to increase awareness of several conditions that affect men’s health, our physicians share tips to help men stay healthy.

Athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects your skin, most commonly the feet. Men that regularly engage in certain types of physical activity may be at an increased risk of exposure. This is because bacteria and fungus can form in damp, shared spaces such as locker rooms, public pools, saunas or showers. Activities requiring bare feet, such as yoga or martial arts, may also increase your risk. While athlete’s foot is not typically serious, it can spread to other areas of your body including your hands, nails and groin area, which can be harder to treat. Taking precautions, such as removing damp clothing, especially socks, and wearing slip-on shoes in shared spaces, can lower your risk.

- Aristides Assimacopoulos, MD, Internal Medicine

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

As men age, many will develop a condition called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), which occurs when the prostate gland becomes enlarged. In fact, BPH will develop in nearly 50 percent of men by the time they reach the age of 60. As the prostate gland becomes larger, it begins to put pressure on the urinary tract, restricting the flow of urine from your bladder. This can lead to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms including increased frequency and/or urgency to urinate, as well as difficulty completely emptying your bladder. While it may not be possible to totally prevent BPH, you can support your prostate health with lifestyle modifications. Eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly and drinking plenty of fluids can help keep your prostate and urinary system functioning properly. You should also avoid smoking and limit your alcohol and caffeine consumption.

- Brian Kadow, MD, Urology

Liver diseases

Liver damage and disease can develop in either gender, but is more common in men. Your liver is a vital organ that supports essential bodily functions and filters toxins from your body. Liver damage can be caused by long-term exposure to chronic viral infections, certain toxins, family history, excessive alcohol consumption and other health conditions including diabetes and/or high cholesterol. To keep your liver functioning properly, avoid excessive alcohol consumption. It is recommended that men consume two drinks or less per day. Maintaining a balanced diet and healthy weight can also lower your risk. If you have a family history of liver disease, your primary care physician may recommend checking your liver enzymes during your annual physical to monitor your liver function.

- Marc Fallah, MD, Gastroenterology

COPD and lung cancer

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States. COPD is usually the result of lung damage caused by long-term exposure to environmental pollutants and tobacco products. Men who smoke are 13 times more likely to develop COPD than non-smokers, so it is important to quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke exposure whenever possible. Certain environmental pollutants can also increase your risk, which include traffic pollution, burning coal and other metals. Wearing protective gear, such as face masks, can help reduce your risk if you’re regularly exposed to air-borne toxins.

- Matthew Baugh, MD, Pulmonary Medicine

Gout

Gout is a form of arthritis which develops when your uric acid levels are much higher than normal, causing sharp pain and swelling in your joints, most commonly in the big toes. Men naturally have higher uric acid levels so they are more prone to gout than women. Additionally, uric acid levels can rise when you consume red meat and shellfish or drink sugary beverages and alcohol. Limiting your intake of these foods and drinks can help keep your uric acid levels low.

- Shakaib Hayat, DO, Rheumatology

Heart disease

Both men and women are affected by heart disease, however, heart disease is more common and in many cases, more fatal in men. While some risk factors like family history can’t be avoided, you can reduce your risk with lifestyle modifications. Obesity, especially when excess weight is carried in the abdomen, is the leading cause of heart disease. Following a balanced diet, limiting the amount of red meat you consume, maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle can help lower your risk of cardiovascular issues as you age.

- Ethan Kosova, MD, Cardiology

Inguinal hernia

An inguinal hernia can develop in anyone, but is more common in men. In fact, approximately 25 percent of men will develop a hernia over the course of their lifetime. An inguinal hernia develops when tissue in the lower abdomen pushes through a weakened spot in your abdominal wall, causing a painful bulge to form near the groin. Taking precautions including avoiding heavy lifting and addressing symptoms like chronic cough or constipation which can strain your lower abdominal muscles, can reduce your risk.

- Paul Signorino, MD, General Surgery

Melanoma

The risk of developing melanoma changes with age. Women are more likely to develop melanoma before the age of 50, but after the age of 50, men are twice as likely to be diagnosed. After the age of 80, the risk is almost three times greater for men than women. Regardless of your gender or age, you should apply sun protection daily. Getting regular skin exams can also help detect any abnormalities earlier, when they are most treatable. 

- Anthony Peterson, MD, Dermatology

Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease causes progressive brain damage that leads to uncontrolled body tremors, muscle stiffness and difficulty walking over time. Men are nearly twice more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than women. The exact reason for this is unknown and is thought to be partially due to a genetic predisposition. Additionally, those who have had a stroke may be at an increased risk of dementia and/or Parkinson’s down the road. As with heart disease, certain lifestyle factors, including maintaining a healthy weight and staying active, can decrease your risk of stroke and other cognitive diseases like Parkinson’s.

- Zeeshan Ali, MD, Neurology

While preventing illness altogether may not be possible, lifestyle modifications such as quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight and staying active can help reduce your risk of several health conditions as you age. Regular visits with your primary care physician can also help identify and address any health concerns you may be experiencing before they become more serious. We want to help you stay as healthy and active as possible, throughout all stages of your life. To learn more about our team of skilled primary care physicians and specialists, or to schedule an appointment, visit dupagemedicalgroup.com/online-schedule/.


Topics and Subtopics: General Health, Men's Health & Senior's Health

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