Top 5 mistakes men make about their health

Doesn’t it seem like it’s usually a woman’s responsibility to look out for the health of the men in her life? Here are 5 of the most common mistakes men make’and how they can fix them

Top 5 mistakes men make about their health

1. They don’t do anything about their snoring

‘Anyone who snores should have it checked out, because you’re not breathing properly, and that’s not healthy,’ says David Merrell, clinical director of the Merrell Clinics, with sleep labs in Calgary and Edmonton. To prevent snoring, doctors suggest sleeping on your side (ladies, roll him over if you need to), using nasal strips or losing weight (less pressure on the airways means more space for air to flow). For chronic snorers or for those diagnosed with sleep apnea, an oral device to increase airflow or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which delivers pressurized air through a mask while you sleep, may be prescribed.

Also, snoring isn’t sexy. A 2008 study survey found that even though respondents had similar scores for erectile function and sex drive, heavy snorers reported the worst sexual satisfaction. The researchers speculate that heavy snoring may not affect physiological functions leading to erectile dysfunction, but may affect partner interactions, which can lead to decreased sexual satisfaction. In addition to being well rested, getting treated may improve sex by allowing partners to sleep in the same bed.

2. They keep quiet about feeling depressed

Because of how women are socialized, we tend to be more comfortable talking about our emotions and seeking help. Men are more apt to be irritable and angry’moods that aren’t assessed in classic diagnostic tests, says Zindel Segal, a psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Often, with undiagnosed depression, men turn to substance abuse to cope. They abuse alcohol and drugs at nearly three times the rate that women do.

If you think your partner or a loved one may be depressed, ‘Just ask him: ‘Do you think you might be depressed?” suggests Peter J. Bieling, a McMaster University psychologist and co-author of Ending the Depression Cycle. Gently describe to him specific examples of the behaviour that worries you. If he agrees he may need help, ask him to talk to his family doctor for a referral.

3. They keep smoking

You hate his yellowed fingers and teeth; even worse, you know that for every year someone smokes after age 40, his  life will be shortened by three months. Today, about 20 percent of adult men in Canada (and 16 percent of women) smoke. Chances of successfully quitting increase if he uses nicotine replacement products such as the patch, gum and lozenges; the doctor may have him use two patches at a time while monitoring him on the larger dose of nicotine. Prescription drugs are also available: Champix targets the brain’s nicotine receptors, while the antidepressant Zyban has been found to reduce cravings for nicotine. Both of these drugs may have some side effects, so schedule a follow-up with his doctor once he begins taking these medications.

4. They avoid going to the dentist

Experts suspect gum disease and tooth decay release bacteria into the body that might affect the heart; or, it may be that a person’s genetic makeup makes them susceptible to dental diseases. Many of these problems are preventable: regular visits to the dentist to fill cavities and monitor gum health, plus good care at home, can help lower heart disease risk.

5. They avoid seeing the doctor regularly

Whether he’s afraid to undress in front of the doctor or worried that he or she will tell him what he already suspects’his diet is too high in fat or he needs to exercise more’the fact is that for many couples, the woman is the one who has to persuade her man to get his annual check-up.

Poor diet, little exercise, being overweight and a genetic predisposition can cause metabolic syndrome, when a person has at least three of the following five risk factors: high blood pressure, low HDL (‘good’) cholesterol, high blood triglycerides, high blood sugar and a large amount of abdominal fat. Except for a large belly (which can be apparent in both men and women with the condition), most aspects of the syndrome are silent. That makes it one more reason to get regular checkups‘including blood pressure and various blood tests. Fortunately, a healthy diet and exercise can slow the syndrome’s progression, and can even reverse it entirely.

Which men’s health (or other) habits drive you crazy?

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