What you need to know:
- Men do not fancy hospital visits even when unwell and are even more reluctant to get medical tests without symptoms.
- Unfortunately, by the time symptoms show, the illness could have progressed dangerously, sometimes even become untreatable.
Regular testing is critical in disease detection and treatment.
While it may not be financially sustainable to get tested for all possible illnesses and conditions every so often, it is important to identify diseases one is susceptible to and prioritise testing for them.
Here are tests adult men should regularly test for:
- Cholesterol Screening
There are two types of cholesterol: Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). High cholesterol occurs when LDLs accumulate on the inner linings of arteries, blocking blood circulatory pathways. This increases the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Although individuals struggling with obesity, or are overweight are at a higher risk, lean and skinny people have also been diagnosed with high cholesterol. You should get screened for cholesterol regularly from the age of 35, but you can start in your 20s if your family has a history of heart disease.
- Blood pressure check
Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the illnesses that require long-term management. Detecting and treating the condition early reduces the likelihood of developing other related illnesses, especially heart diseases.
If you visit the hospital regularly, you probably have your blood pressure checked. However, if you rarely see the doctor, you should commit to getting your blood pressure checked at least once in two years.
- Digital rectal exam (DRE) for prostate cancer
Although prostate cancer is the second-highest cancer killer among men, many shy away from the digital rectal exam due to discomfort.
You may also opt for a blood test known as the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test. Although the test has been criticised for giving many false positives, you can use it as a precursor to deciding whether to get a more conclusive test.
Traditionally, tests for prostate cancer were recommended for men over 50 years. But more men in their 40s have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and it is, therefore, advisable to get tested early. If you are in your late 30s, you should have your first test and regularly after that.
Colorectal cancer is among the top five leading causes of cancer deaths in men. Unfortunately, the high death rates are attributed to late detection.
A colonoscopy exam can detect precancerous growths, which are treatable. The best time to get your first colonoscopy exam for colorectal cancer is in your 40s if you want to catch the growths before they become malignant.
The test is painless and does not take more than 30 minutes.
- Testicular cancer screening
This is the most prevalent type of cancer among young men aged 18-35.
A doctor can detect the growths using his fingers and recommend further testing through ultrasound or a blood test.
- Diabetes screening
There is an increased number of young men who test positive for diabetes. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to other serious health issues.
It is therefore essential to get screened for diabetes as early as possible. In addition, if you have a history of diabetes in your family or are overweight, you should get screened even in your 20s.
Don’t dismiss the constant thirst, fatigue, increased hunger, and other signs that your blood sugar levels may be fluctuating sharply.
- Eye exam
Blue light from gadgets such as laptops and smartphones can damage your eyesight fast and permanently.
But that’s not the only cause for eye problems. As you age, eyesight generally starts to deteriorate.
You should get an eye exam while in your 20s so that you can start managing any conditions early.
- Tests for depression and anxiety
The life of an adult can be pretty stressful – work, school, relationships, etc.
You need to be on the lookout to avoid dismissing depression and other serious mental illnesses as adulthood stress. If you are constantly sad, low on motivation, and lack interest in things you liked before, you may be depressed. Get a professional assessment and guidance before it develops further.
- Screening for sexually transmitted diseases
If you are sexually active, you should get screened for STI at least annually. This applies even if you use protection.
Besides HIV tests, get a full STI screening regularly to protect yourself and the people you care about. If you are in a committed relationship, look for facilities that offer guidance on reproductive health and visit with your partner.