It crept up on him. The family noticed he was drinking a lot of water. Even a trip by car to the shopping mall on the other side of town required a bathroom break on the way. The diagnosis: Type II diabetes. Although there was a family history of the disease, he had never been screened for it.
According to the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), men need to do six important things to stay healthy. They include getting recommended screening tests, staying physically active, remaining tobacco-free, eating a healthy diet and taking preventive medications if they’re indicated.
Here’s a summary of essential screening tests listed by AHRQ.
Obesity. You should get a calculation of your body mass index (BMI) to find out if you’re obese or overweight. BMI reflects your body fat based on your height and weight.
Cholesterol. Start getting screened regularly at age 35. If you’re younger than that and have diabetes, high blood pressure, a smoking habit or a family history of high blood pressure, ask your doctor whether he or she recommends cholesterol screening for you.
Blood pressure. Screening for high blood pressure should occur at least every two years. This test takes just a few minutes and is part of an office visit to many doctors.
Diabetes. Doctors often order a screening test for diabetes if you suffer from high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels. Sometimes they recommend it for patients who have been overweight for an extended period of time or those with a family history of the disease.
Colorectal cancer. At age 50 – or younger if you have a family history – you should begin colorectal cancer screening. Your physician can recommend which test if ideal for you.
Depression. If you’ve felt down, sad or hopeless over the last 14 days or find that you have little interest in things, talk to your doctor about screening you for depression.
Sexually transmitted diseases. Men should review with their physicians the necessity of being tested for gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia or any other sexually transmitted diseases. You should also discuss whether your situation warrants HIV screening.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm. Screening for an abnormally large or swollen blood vessel in the abdomen is important if you’re a male between 65 and 75 who has smoked 100 or more cigarettes in your lifetime.
Prostate cancer. Many individuals believe that prostate cancer screening is essential for all men. However, the Mayo Clinic advises that while you might feel reassured after a normal prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal exam, you might not need the test, particularly if you’re at least 75 years old. Experts are divided as to who should and who shouldn’t undergo PSA screening. Some recommend it if you’re between 40 and 75 or have an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Since each individual’s health varies, you should always discuss the importance of any screening test with your doctor in order to make an informed decision.
U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality site
Mayo Clinic site