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A stronger tomorrow starts today during Men’s Health Month

Men running on the street Keeping on the move during Men's Health Month...As the old saying goes, hills don't get easier, but runners can get stronger by being consistent in dealing with them. And with June as Men's Health Month, Sailors assigned to Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Bremerton Optometry department stay active with tempo hill repeat-runs as part of their regular routine to help ensure operational readiness, boost individual fitness and collective health, and remain a ready medical force to support a medically ready force (Official Navy photo by Douglas H Stutz, NHB/NMRTC Bremerton public affairs officer).

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Men's Health

Although just a guess, I believe there’s a sneaky reason why there’s an entire month dedicated to men’s health.

Besides prompting guys to focus on dealing with physical and mental morbidities, the actual reason to annually set aside an entire month is steeped in intentional, well-meaning principle.

We basically need reminding – apparently a lot – to take care of ourselves.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are far more likely than women to go two years or longer without seeing a physician.

When we do have an appointment, we are less likely to speak openly about our health with our health care provider. Even if we do share, we’re generally not open and sincere about our health and wellness. Such lack of communication can lead to missing diagnoses, causing misdiagnoses and adding unnecessary tests.

With ‘a stronger tomorrow’ the Men’s Health month theme this year throughout the Department of Defense, now of course is the opportunity to take the slack out of our collective communication lack.

Following Military Health Systems recommendations is a good way to prepare for any current or future appointment:

  • We need to be upfront about any symptoms.
  • We need to write down questions or concerns to discuss.
  • We need to be involved and ask about prescriptions/medications.
  • We need to clarify all instructions before and after any surgery/procedure.
  • And if possible, we need to bring a family member along.

We have this entire month as a foundation to increase our awareness about health issues that should be important to all us guys like prostate, testicular, skin, and colon cancers, along with other similar concerns like hypertension, obesity, and heart disease.

That catchphrase ‘increased awareness’ is really a reminder for all of us guys to self-assess to determine if our daily habits are healthy or horrid. Are we eating nutritionally, being active, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, staying injury free, practicing safe sex, drinking in moderation, and being tobacco free?

According to the Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center, there are definitely health concerns that impact men differently than women.

As an example, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, men are more likely to gain weight around our midsection(s) than women. That accumulation of fat around our waist increases our risk for heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Men of all ages who are aware of this, whether active duty, reservist, retiree, or dependent, understand the importance of taking measures to maintain a healthy weight.

Additionally, we are more likely to smoke, drink, and choose unhealthy or risky behaviors than our gender counterparts.

The data can be damning; men die at higher rates than women from the top-10 causes of death in the U.S. In descending order, heart disease and cancer are the top two by far, followed by accidents (considered unintentional injuries), chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, nephrosis (kidney disease), and intentional self-harm (suicide). We’re also the victims of over 92% of workplace deaths.

The bottom line is that we need to be more aware of potential health concerns, even if we’re not sick or injured. What's scary is that half of the men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease showed no previous symptoms.

By scheduling and keeping scheduled appointments, we can help determine our own early detection, timely treatment, and prevention awareness of injuries and diseases, which helps ensure we’re a medically ready force, ready medical force, and overall healthier population.

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