Health Checks For Every Decade | SLMan

Health Checks For Every Decade

However invincible you feel in your 20s and 30s, detecting symptoms of certain health conditions early is a critical factor in keeping you well and healthy. Whether it’s keeping an eye on your prostate or being aware of blood sugar, we went to two GPs to find out the health checks you should be having at each stage of life…
Photography ISTOCK/PEOPLE IMAGES
ISTOCK/PEOPLE IMAGES

In Your 20s

Get Your Bloods Done 
“It’s a good idea to get a full blood screening in your twenties, which will help pick up any issues in organs like the kidney, liver and thyroid. For most guys in their 20s there will be no problems, rarely there can be genetic conditions you may not know about. For example, you could have a predisposition to high cholesterol, which could increase your risk of a future heart attack. A blood test can also pick up on nutrient deficiencies – B12, folate, ferritin and vitamin D are the most common at this stage in life. Knowing what you’re low in can help you tweak your diet for optimum health. There’s no need to get fanatical about blood tests, but a one-off can help you be more in control of your health. If all is normal, there’s no need to repeat it, but if you develop symptoms or have concerns, chat to your GP. There have been significant developments in blood testing in recent years that mean far less blood is needed. At Numan, we offer at-home blood test kits which are done with a finger prick. The tests are easy to do and once you’ve sent the test through the post to a lab, results are turned round in 24-48 hours.” – Dr Luke Pratsides, lead GP at Numan
 
Book An STI Check
“If you are sexually active, you should be testing for STIs on a yearly basis. If you have unprotected sex more regularly or have had multiple sexual partners, you should be testing more frequently. STIs are one of the biggest health risks facing men in their early 20s and it’s vital to detect infections as early as possible. Plus, some STIs occur without symptoms, making it even more important to get tested. For example, chlamydia is often described as a silent infection due to the fact around 50% of men (and 70% of women) with the infection don’t have symptoms. Other STIs do produce symptoms, however, so if you notice discharge from your penis, pain when you urinate, rashes or lumps around your genital area, or pain in your testicles, get an STI test straight away. Some GPs offer testing, so check there first, but if not, your local sexual health clinic can help – tests are always free. If you prefer to self-test, in some parts of the UK you can order a confidential kit to be delivered to your home – check out SH:24 and Lloyds Pharmacy online. These, however, aren’t free.” – Dr Naveen Puri, associate clinical director at Bupa Health Clinics.

In Your 30s

Check Your Testicles
“Testicular cancer may be rare, but statistics show men aged 15-49 are more likely to be diagnosed with it, with a peak age of diagnosis in your 30s. Get into the habit of checking your testicles once a month and get to know what feels normal for you. Symptoms can include a painless swelling or lump in one of your testicles or any change in shape or texture. Cup your hands under your testicles to feel how heavy they are – they should feel roughly the same size and weight. Roll each testicle between your fingers and thumb to check for any lumps or swellings. A recent Bupa study revealed one in four men have never checked themselves for testicular cancer, with nearly half admitting they regularly forget to look for symptoms. Get into the habit of checking regularly as early detection is key to prevent abnormalities from developing and there is currently no national health screening for testicular cancer. If, however, you are concerned, most private health clinics offer testicular health checks as part of general ‘well man’ checks.” – Dr Puri.

A recent Bupa study revealed one in four men have never checked themselves for testicular cancer, with nearly half admitting they regularly forget to look for symptoms.

In Your 40s

Monitor For Diabetes
“Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes – which happens when your blood sugar levels are too high – increases with age. Having diabetes also increases your risk of other health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. It’s a good idea to check your blood sugar levels every few years once you are in your 40s. There are various tests available – blood tests check the level of glucose in the blood to determine if it’s at a normal level, while other tests may require you to fast beforehand. However, if you have any symptoms of diabetes (feeling constantly thirsty, increased need to pee, tiredness and sudden weight loss), speak to your doctor straight away.” – Dr Puri
 
Keep An Eye On Blood Pressure
“In your 40s, it is your cardiovascular health that is of the greatest concern. It’s important to have your bloods checked for both cholesterol and blood pressure. Together, these measures can give you an idea of your risk of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. At this stage in life, you should be checking your blood pressure at least every five years so any potential problems can be detected early. Remember, high blood pressure can put a strain on your arteries and organs, potentially causing serious health conditions such as heart and kidney disease. While your GP can carry out a blood pressure test, it may also be a good idea to monitor it yourself at home. It’s not unusual to experience ‘white coat hypertension’, which happens when your blood pressure readings done at the GP surgery are higher than they are in other settings. A reading done at home may be more accurate, but if your at-home reading is on the high side (above 140/90mmHg), speak to your GP.” – Dr Puri
 
Consider An ECG
“If you have a family history of heart disease, an electrical trace of your heart, known as an ECG, can help give an indication if there are signs of restricted blood flow to the heart. If this comes back with an abnormal reading, you will need regular monitoring. Regular exercise and a diet low in fat and sugar will be needed to improve blood pressure and cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol or high HbA1c (blood sugar), it’s best to get these checked every six months to monitor progress.” – Dr Pratsides

In Your 50s

Be Testosterone Savvy
“After your 40s, your testosterone levels decrease by around 1% each year, so by the time you hit your fifties, your levels will be significantly lower. Most men have enough testosterone reserve for this progressive decrease not to cause symptoms, but some men do become deficient, leading to symptoms including a low libido, erectile dysfunction, low energy and mood, insomnia and reduced muscle mass. If you are concerned about your testosterone levels, these can be checked via a blood test and then replaced through testosterone gels, which you apply to the skin.” – Dr Pratsides
 
Look After Your Prostate
“The prostate is a gland that sits under your bladder and surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body). The prostate is small – around the size of a walnut – and grows as you age. When cells in the prostate grow in an uncontrollable way, this can cause prostate cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in males. Your risk increases with age, with men over the age of 50 more likely to be diagnosed. There are usually no symptoms during the early stages, which is why it’s so important to be aware of your risk factors. Whilst there currently isn’t a national prostate screening programme in the UK, most private health clinics will offer tests if you are concerned. Beyond the early stages, common prostate symptoms include needing to urinate more (often during the night), discomfort when urinating, feeling as though your bladder hasn’t fully emptied after urinating, and blood in your urine. These symptoms don’t always mean you have prostate cancer, but it’s vital to be aware of them and talk to your GP if you experience them. There’s no single test for prostate cancer but the most used is a blood test, which checks your PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels.” – Dr Puri

Most men have enough testosterone reserve for this progressive decrease not to cause symptoms, but some men do become deficient, leading to symptoms including a low libido, erectile dysfunction, low energy and mood, insomnia and reduced muscle mass.

In Your 60s

Do Your Bowel Test Every Two Years
“From the age of 50 onwards, all men are at increased risk of developing cancer of any kind, and men in particular have higher rates of bowel cancer. Signs of bowel cancer can include a change in bowel habits lasting more than a couple of weeks (diarrhoea or constipation), bleeding from the back passage, feeling of incomplete bowel emptying, abdominal pain and unexplained weight loss. From the age of 60, you are offered a bowel cancer screening home test every two years. This involves sending a sample of stool to be tested for microscopic traces of blood. If it comes back positive, you will be invited for further tests (typically a colonoscopy). Look out for any of the symptoms of bowel cancer – if any last for more than a few weeks, always speak to your GP.” – Dr Pratsides.

For more information, head to Bupa.co.uk and Numan.com
 
DISCLAIMER: Features published by SLMan are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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