The older you get, the more you have to worry about developing serious, chronic conditions, especially if you aren’t in the best of health to begin with.
In your 20s, you probably don’t have much to worry about when it comes to your health. The most you might have to deal with are the occasional cough and cold and work stress. Once you enter your 40s, though, you may have to look out for more serious symptoms that can affect your long-term physical and emotional wellbeing. Erectile function disorder and prostate cancer, for instance, can affect your reproductive health and sex life and even your emotional state.
According to Dr Zeng Shan Yong from DTAP (Dr Tan and Partners) Somerset, these are the biggest health concerns for men in various age groups.
You’re likely in good health. You might be busy with your career and starting a family, and you may not be as physically active as you were in your 20s, although this is also a popular age for men who were previously inactive to take up a sport or join a gym – musculoskeletal injuries tend to be common for these “weekend warriors”.
Some men in this age group may have multiple sex partners, in which case it’s important for them to get screened for sexually transmitted infections and educate themselves on the treatment and prevention of these diseases.
You might feel healthy in your 30s but don’t ignore symptoms of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Such conditions are rarely spoken about, especially among males, so if you feel emotionally out-of-sorts, have lost interest in your favourite activities, are eating or sleeping more or less than usual, and have difficulty maintaining friendships and relationships, ask your doctor for help.
Having already established your career and family, you feel comfortable and settled. However, for many men in this age group, a comfortable life translates to a sedentary lifestyle. A lack of physical activity and a poor diet can increase your risk of metabolic syndrome, a collection of diseases that includes obesity, Type 2 diabetes, raised blood pressure and high cholesterol. With metabolic syndrome comes an increased risk of arteriosclerosis, heart disease, stroke and fatty liver disease. However, if you control your weight, adopt healthier eating habits and increase your physical activity during this period, you stand a good chance of preventing or halting complications associated with metabolic syndrome.
Arteriosclerosis due to metabolic syndrome can lead to erectile dysfunction – arteriosclerotic plaque build-up may result in the narrowing of the small arteries in the penis, decreasing blood flow to the penis during intercourse and reducing the duration and hardness of erections. Erectile dysfunction affects 40% of Singaporean men in their 40s and is usually one of the first signs of metabolic syndrome.
In your 40s, you may also start to notice hair loss.
This is when the prostate gland starts causing problems. This walnut-shaped gland sits underneath the bladder and is responsible for the majority of fluids that make up semen. As men age, the prostate gland starts to enlarge and may result in symptoms such as poor urine flow and terminal dribbling after urinating.
Your 50s is also when you should talk to your doctor about screening for colorectal cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer – the three most common cancers in Singapore men.
You might feel that age is catching up to you as you experience degenerative diseases. Degenerative eye conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration can cause visual problems, while hearing acuity decreases with age-related hearing loss. Degenerative joint disorders such as osteoarthritis of the hips and knees can lead to problems with mobility and physical activity.
A unique problem for men in their 60s is Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome, which can lead to erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, lower energy and muscle wasting. The incidence of testosterone deficiency increases with each decade of life, but the problem is easily reversed with hormonal replacement.
Fortunately, healthy lifestyle changes can delay or even prevent the onset of metabolic syndrome and chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Dr Zeng recommends avoiding diet fads, which aren’t always healthy and are often unsustainable, consuming whole foods instead of processed ones, filling up on antioxidant-rich fruit and veggies, keeping physically active throughout the day, and prioritising a good night’s sleep.
Note: Please consult your physician on your individual health concerns.
Do you have questions about men’s health issues? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org!