Prioritising physical health is crucial for us to lead healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives. Did you know that Men’s Health Week 2023 is just around the corner? This event is a great opportunity for us to discuss why physical health is important and highlight some important health issues that affect Australian men. Due to a range of reasons, including biological, genetic and lifestyle factors, there are certain chronic conditions men are at more risk of developing. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can help to prevent their development or better manage and reduce symptoms. Being better aware of symptoms and available treatments is also important to ensure we have all the information we need to act quickly and get the support we need.
Prostate Cancer – A Growing Concern for Australian Men
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Australian men and early detection is essential for successful treatment and survival. Some common symptoms of prostate cancer include difficulty urinating, frequent urination (especially at night), blood in urine or semen, painful ejaculation, and pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or thighs.
When it comes to treating prostate cancer, there are several options depending on the stage and aggressiveness of the cancer. These can include active surveillance for low-risk cases, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, or chemotherapy.
A diagnosis of prostate cancer is a major life stress that for many men is followed by challenging treatment-related symptoms and psychological distress. Therefore, being aware of the signs and taking steps for early detection can help to save lives and improve the wellbeing for so many of us.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) is doing great work to reduce the impact of prostate cancer on Australian men, their partners, and families. They fund research, raise awareness, and provide support for those affected by the disease.
Diabetes – A Silent Killer
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects many Australian men. This condition occurs when the body can’t properly use or produce insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels. If poorly managed, diabetes can lead to additional health complications, such as heart attack, stroke, and amputation. Type 2 diabetes is more common in men and is often linked to unhealthy lifestyle choices. In Australia, it is in the top 10 leading causes of death, impacting men at much higher rates than women.
Some common symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst and hunger, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, fatigue and irritability, blurred vision, and slow-healing wounds.
To manage diabetes, adopting a healthy diet and increasing physical activity are essential first steps. In some cases, oral medications may be prescribed to control blood sugar levels. For those with Type 1 diabetes or severe Type 2 diabetes, insulin injections may be necessary.
Diabetes Australia do great work across the country to support people with this condition. Check out their website for more information.
Heart Disease – A Leading Cause of Death
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Australian men, accounting for around 11% of all male deaths in 2021. Risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and an inactive lifestyle.
Some common symptoms of heart disease include chest pain or discomfort (angina), shortness of breath, dizziness or light-headedness, fatigue, and swelling in the legs, ankles, or feet.
To prevent and treat heart disease, adopting a heart-healthy diet, increasing physical activity, and quitting smoking are essential. In some cases, medications may be prescribed to control blood pressure, cholesterol, and other risk factors. Surgical procedures or interventions may also be required.
Check out the Heart Foundation’s website for a range of helpful resources and information.
Mental Health and Chronic Conditions
Living with a chronic condition like prostate cancer, diabetes, or heart disease can significantly impact your mental health. Depression and anxiety are common issues among those affected, and poor mental health can negatively affect treatment and overall wellbeing. For some people, the emotional burden of living with a life-altering condition can even increase the risk of suicide.
To maintain mental health while managing a chronic condition, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional. MensLine Australia counsellors are available by phone or webchat 24/7 for free, professional support. It’s also important to engage in regular physical activity, which has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress. Practice stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga. Build a strong support network that includes friends, family, or support groups for those with similar conditions. And, always feel free to discuss any mental health concerns with your healthcare provider, who can offer guidance and resources.
Taking Action for Men’s Health
As Men’s Health Week approaches, let’s take the opportunity to prioritise our health and wellbeing by:
- Encouraging regular check-ups and screenings for early detection of chronic conditions
- Promoting healthy lifestyle choices, such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management techniques
- Supporting organisations like the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, Diabetes Australia and the Heart Foundation
- Addressing mental health concerns related to living with chronic conditions and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues
Together, we can work towards improving the health and wellbeing of Australian men and reducing the impact of chronic conditions like prostate cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. If you have any concerns about your physical health, make an appointment to talk with your GP as soon as possible.
MensLine Australia is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with professional counsellors providing information and support for all emotional health and relationship issues. Call us on 1300 78 99 78 or access online counselling.