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  • David Price

Home Body Checks


Men are statistically less likely to end up at the doctor’s office but we are just as prone to cancers and disease as our partners. For men going to the doctors is either a sign of weakness, a dent in our pride or just an inconvenience.

However, when it comes to looking after our cars, we make sure they are washed and polished, serviced and working properly - we hate it when something is not working properly.

So its bizarre that we don’t like going to the doctors, us men only go there, if a loved one forces us to or if the pain is too much. The visit could help save our lives !

So with all the men barriers above, what are some of the things you can you do at home ?

1. Take your temperature

Your body temperature can show if you might have a fever. Normal temperature for adults is around 37° C (98.6° F) but this varies according to age, time of day and which part of the body you take the temperature from. Check your temperature when you’re in good health so you know what’s normal for you so that you have a good base line number. Invest in a good thermometer for the most accurate reading.


2. Checking your heart rate

Your resting heart rate first thing in the morning gives an indication of your general wellness. What’s normal depends on your age and fitness — check every morning for a week to learn your usual pulse rate. You can check manually or with a heart rate monitor, fitness tracker or smartphone app. A normal pulse (heart rate) for a man should be between 60 and 100. A change of 10 beats per minute (bpm) or more may mean you’re run down. Above 100 bpm could mean you’re stressed, dehydrated, excited or sick. If an elevated heart rate persists, consult a doctor. To check your pulse, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon, at your wrist, over your radial artery — which is located on the thumb side. When you feel your pulse, count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by four to calculate your beats per minute.


3. Blood pressure check

According to research 28% of men have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. It’s easy to measure as there are a number of very low cost effective home kits. Take your test every week or so, make sure you sit and rest for about five mins before doing so.


4. Belly fat

"Measuring the fat around your belly could be the most important self-exam for most men," says one doctor. "More than other fat, belly fat produces hormones that increase men's risk for heart disease and diabetes." To do this self-check, simply measure around your waist at the level of your belly button. If you measure more than 37 inches, you're at a risk for potentially serious health problems. Do this every month.


5. Blood tests

Home blood tests can give an indication of cholesterol levels, diabetes, prostate, thyroid issues, allergies and even HIV. There are a number of providers you simply prick your finger into a vial and send the test back or arrange for a nurse to visit your house take the blood for you. These tests provide an insight into a large number of biomarkers which can help you to make changes in your lifestyle and upload into a phone app which shows improvement / deterioration.


6. Oral check

Oral cancer and gum disease are important men's health issues. Research shows that oral cancer is twice as common in men as in women, possibly because of cancer-causing HPV infections, which account for 72 percent of all oral and throat tumours. Cervical cancer is currently the most common cancer associated with the virus, but experts estimate the incidence of HPV-linked oral cancers in men may outnumber that of HPV-linked cervical cancers in women.

Oral cancer may show up as a sore or lump that doesn't heal on the lips or in the mouth. To check for potential tumours, open wide and look and feel for any abnormalities, running a finger around and under your tongue. White or red patches in your mouth can be early warning signs of oral cancer.

Gum Disease Every time you brush and floss your teeth, be on the lookout for swollen, painful, bleeding gums or loose teeth. Also check for a receding gum line; it will make your teeth look longer. Gum disease, or periodontitis, is a serious risk to men's health and also may be a warning for more serious health concerns. Studies show, for example that people with periodontitis double their risk for heart disease. If your oral self-exam suggests gum disease, get to your dentist soon.


7. Testicular cancer

This is an essential check to discover lumps or swellings that could be an indication of cancer. It’s important to check your testicles regularly so you can recognise an abnormality.

Check your testicles after a warm bath or shower, holding your scrotum in the palm of your hand and using the fingers and thumbs of both hands to examine your testes. You should consult a doctor if you feel an unusual lump or swelling, a sharp pain or a heavy scrotum.


8. Other – lumps and cancer

The other main types of cancer that can affect men only: prostate, testicular and penile. These can be treated when caught in the early stages. Don’t put your head in the sand hoping symptoms will go away, get checked.

Men should become aware of their bodies so any changes can be noticed quickly and advice given if needed. If you happen to find a lump it is most likely to be benign (non-cancerous). A common lump in the skin is a sebaceous cyst, which you can get anywhere. It’s painless unless it becomes infected.

Another common lump is a lipoma, which is filled with fat. This lump is again harmless and needs no surgery.

If a lump appears at the top of the thigh or next to the scrotum, this can be a hernia. If it causes pain, it will need treating. Some lumps can be cancerous so you should always visit your doctor for advice to rule out any concerns or begin treatment early.


9. Skin

Once a month, you should do a total body self-exam to look for new moles or changes in old moles. Skin cancer is the most common cancer among men and women, affecting millions of people every year. People are diagnosed with melanoma, basal or squamous cell skin cancer annually Men are twice as likely as women to have basal cell cancers and three times as likely to have squamous cell cancers — but they're less likely to do monthly self-exams or go to the dermatologist. Partly because of this, they make up more than half of all melanoma deaths.

To do a self-check for skin cancer, look for moles that change size, shape, thickness, or colour. Let your doctor know about any growths that bleed, itch, burn, or crust over. Get naked and look everywhere, including in your scalp and on the soles of your feet. "The back is a common area for melanoma. Have a partner help you check those areas that are hard to see." Also examine your ears: Research from the Skin Cancer Foundation found that many skin cancers are found on sun-exposed areas where you often don't think to put sunscreen. Ears are particularly vulnerable for men because of shorter hairstyles and poor sun protection.


10. Breast Cancer

That's right: Men get breast cancer, too. It's relatively rare, but because men don't get mammograms, breast self-exams are a good idea after you turn 60. The best time to do one is after a shower. Look for any change in the size of your breast and feel each breast for lumps. Also squeeze both nipples to look for signs of discharge. You should do this about once a month.

Summary

Good health depends greatly on our lifestyles, what we eat and how much exercise we get. A balanced diet is essential to good health and keeping cholesterol levels down. However, it is also very important to be aware of changes to your body and to have regular check-ups at your doctor.

Brett’s view

It's easier to spot the external changes on our bodies, unfortunately, the internal ones aren't so easy to see as we get older. It's a great idea to keep an eye on the wobbly bits every so often. It will also provide you with a good base from which to judge your health from. In any case, if you are not sure, see your doctor.


David’s view

So important to know your body and catch anything early before it’s too late, I was worried about a fatty lump on the side of my tummy and a cyst on my head which I had checked out. I also invest in a blood check twice a year, as there is a history of cholesterol in the family. A nurse simply comes to your house, takes your blood, you then post a box back to the lab and the results appear on a phone app which keeps you engaged.

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