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Prioritizing Men’s Health

June marks the start of Men’s Health Month, a time dedicated spreading awareness on issues surrounding men’s health and well-being. Understanding commonly faced issues for men and their risk factors can empower men to prioritize preventative care. 

The following are five areas that men may feel stigmatized against seeking treatment.

#1 Mental Health: 1 in 10 men report they experience daily depression or anxiety. Unfortunately, societal pressures often have a negative impact on men’s mental health and discourage help-seeking, as only half of these men will seek treatment in their lifetime. If you feel down, depressed, or anxious, you are not alone, and seeking help for these issues is nothing to be ashamed of. There are mental health providers at Southwest Health that are here to help.

For immediate response, people can call or text 988 to be in contact with someone immediately.

#2 Skin Health: Taking preventative measures to care for your body’s biggest organ, your skin, helps protective barrier. While most skincare products are marketed towards women, but it’s just as important for men to take care of their skin, too. Taking the following measures can help prevent certain skin diseases:

  • Apply at least 15 SPF sunscreen every day, as temperature or clouds is not always a great a indicator of UV radiation
  • Use a lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher
  • Using a daily facial/body cleanser can remove build-up and dead skin cells
  • Daily moisturizing year-round is essential for keeping the skin hydrated

If you have any concerns about your skin or notice any change in appearance to moles, freckles, or other skin features, contact a healthcare professional. For expert care, there are two providers at Southwest Health’s Dermatology Department:

Christina Burr, PA-C:  is experienced in a wide range of outpatient dermatological care, from general dermatology for all ages to performing minor office procedures to cosmetics and personal skin care. In addition to dermatology, her career as a physician assistant has included experience in women’s health, rheumatology and more.

Jennifer Peterson, MD: is a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in treating disorders of the skin, hair, and nails. Dr. Peterson attended the Medical College of Wisconsin and completed her dermatology residency at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Oregon. 

#3 Urinary Health: Urinary health plays a crucial role in overall well-being, and understanding common issues and preventive measures is essential to encourage men to prioritize their bladder health. The following are the four most common urinary issues in men:

  • Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH): A non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that can cause frequent urination, difficulty starting or maintaining urination, and weak urine flow
  • Prostatitis: An inflammation or infection of the prostate gland, which can cause pain in the pelvic area, difficulty urinating, and flu-like symptoms
  • Erectile Dysfunction (ED): The inability to achieve or maintain an erection, often related to underlying health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or hormonal imbalances
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Infections affecting the bladder, kidneys, ureters, and urethra, which can cause symptoms such as pain or burning during urination, frequent urination, and cloudy or bloody urine

In addition to routine screenings, healthy lifestyle habits including a balanced diet, staying hydrated, managing stress, and limiting alcohol use can all reduce the risk of developing these urinary issues.

#4 Colon Health: Since symptoms can sometimes go unnoticed for awhile, knowing what to look for will help you and your provider know when to get a screening. Many people with colon cancer don’t have symptoms at first. When symptoms appear, they are likely depend on the cancer’s size and location in the large intestine. Symptoms of colon cancer can include the following. If you think you’re experiencing any of the following, it’s time to contact your family medicine provide, and schedule a colon cancer screening. There are different providers at Southwest Health who perform these life saving screenings:

Scott Houghton, MD is a highly experienced, board-certified general surgeon. He grew up in rural South Dakota and has lived throughout the Midwest. Having practiced in both referral centers and critical access hospitals, he brings a large body of knowledge and experience to Southwest Health. Dr. Houghton’s special interests include a broad range of procedures, including office-based, complex open, laparoscopic, and endoscopic surgeries. To schedule a screening with Dr. Houghton, call General Surgery at (608) 342-6275.

Jeffrey Kueter, MD, is originally from Platteville, and applies his twenty-plus years of Military Medicine experience to provide exceptional patient care. He has experience in a full scope of medicine including outpatient medicine, inpatient medicine, procedural medicine, and combat casualty care. His military background speaks to his outstanding character, leadership, and commitment to his patients and country. He sees family medicine patients in the Platteville Clinic. To schedule a screening with Dr. Kueter, call Family Medicine at (608) 348-4330.

#5 Heart Health: Maintaining a healthy heart is crucial for everyday well-being. It’s especially important for men because on average they develop heart disease 10 years earlier than women do. While some risk factors like age and gender are beyond control, you can make a big difference by making simple lifestyle changes to keep your heart healthy:

  • Know your family’s history: Your family’s health can tell you a lot about your own risk, as genetics contribute to 40-60% of all heart attacks. While genes alone aren’t the only cause, they may interact with your lifestyle and environment to put you at a higher risk.
  • Know your numbers: What’s the best way to ensure your heart is functioning properly? Know your numbers! Five significant biometric numbers can help you and your Family Medicine Provider to determine if you are at risk for heart disease:
    • Total Cholesterol
    • Blood Pressure
    • Blood Sugar
    • Body Mass Index
    • Minutes of Exercise
  • Reduce smoking: Smoking is harmful because it inflames and damages the arteries in the heart and other blood vessels, raising the risk for blood clots. In as little as one day after quitting smoking, blood pressure levels start to drop, decreasing risk of heart disease.
  • Choose good food: Over time, high amounts of sugar, salt, saturated fats, and refined carbs can have a negative impact on your body. These foods increase blood pressure and can lead to obesity, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • Address your stress: Everybody deals with stress in their daily lives, but long-term stress can raise your blood pressure. Stress can also lead to other unhealthy lifestyle choices, including stress eating. If you feel like you’re under excessive stress, consider reaching out for professional help.

If you have any irregular chest pain or other cause for concern, don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional. Cardiology providers at Southwest Health are here to help you maintain a healthy heart.

Eugene Kaji, MD: Dr. Kaji provides consulting advice and direct care for patients with heart/cardiovascular problems. He understands rural communities and how that uniquely affects cardiology.

You are in charge of your own health and regular screenings and yearly physicals are your first defense. For those hesitating to undergo screening, your health and well-being are invaluable, deserving of proactive care and attention. Remember, early detection can make all the difference. If you haven’t already, take the first step towards protecting yourself and your loved ones. Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Remember, early detection saves lives.

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