By Patricia McManus–Black Health Coalition of Wis.
We are going to spend the next few weeks talking about specific topics that are critical to the health of our community.
The men in our community are especially vulnerable because they tend to ignore their health more than women. It does not mean that women are all that much better, but because we are the carriers of life, so we automatically tend to interface with the health care system a lot more than men.
In this installment we’re going to pay special attention to some critical conditions men should be aware of. Our Black men are vital to the health of our community and they are dying too fast from preventable causes.
Yes, there are things that are not preventable, but sometimes we will act like nothing is preventable. Our men have this attitude of: “If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen”.
How many times have you heard that statement from men—and yes, women too—that we care a great deal about. So this is for the men and the people who love them.
Make sure that they get a copy of this and begin to decide what they can do to take care of themselves better. Mothers, wives, partners, children, friends, let them know that they are too important to go out like that! Let’s look at the 10 top concerns about men’s health as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
1. Heart Disease. It’s the leading men’s health threat. To prevent or lower your risk, you should:
a. Eat a healthy diet
b. Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products
c. Include some type of physical activity
d. Get screened and treatment for high cholesterol or high blood pressure,
these are silent killers. Do not wait for symptoms
2. Cancer. To prevent or lower your risk of getting cancer, you should:
a. Get screened for prostate cancer and other types of cancer
b. Continue with the recommendations from #1.
c. Reduce exposure to cancer causing substances- smoke, asbestos, radia
tion, air pollution
3. Injuries. You should:
a. Wear your seat belt
b. Follow speed limits
c. Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or any other substances
d. Don’t drive when sleepy or taking medication that can
make you not alert
4. Stroke. You should:
a. Limit the amount of saturated fats in your diet.
b. Maintain a healthy weight and include physical activity
c. If you are diabetic, keep your blood sugar under control.
d. Drink alcohol only in moderation
e. Don’t smoke
5. COPD. You should:
a. Don’t smoke and avoid second hand smoke
b. Minimize exposure to chemicals and air pollution
6. Type 2 Diabetes. You should:
a. Lose excess pounds, if you are overweight
b. Eat a healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat foods
c. Include physical activity
7. Flu. Get your annual flu vaccine. This is especially necessary for men
with any chronic conditions.
8. Suicide. This is another leading concern. An important high risk for suicide is depression. Treatment is available, do not feel that you cannot talk about it. If not your family, there are friends and also support services. For Milwaukee dial, 211 to be referred to services.
9. Kidney Disease. You should:
a. Eat a healthy diet
b. Include physical activity
c. Take medicine as prescribed
10. Alzheimer’s Disease. There is no proven way to prevent this disease
but try the following:
a. Take care of your health
b. Avoid head injuries
c. Avoid tobacco
d. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation
e. Stay socially active
f. Maintain mental fitness. Practice mental exercise and take steps to learn new things.
The first thing I know you are saying is: “You keep repeating the same things. That should tell you something. The basic rules for being healthy are the same to prevent most conditions that can negatively affect your quality of life. These are very simple things that can be done without massive changes in your lifestyle.
Remember, the rule is to start slow, but start. Pick one activity and begin. The strength of a nation is through its men. Is it any wonder that African American men are the target of so many negative things as it relates to health.
Another condition that I want to remind us of is stress as a result of racism and discrimination.
While women face racism and discrimination as well, for men in our community it gets right to the heart of their survival. This is why it is so important to be physically and mentally fit for the battle. We need you to be here and in the best shape that you can be.