Breaking Our Silence on Men's Health

Breaking Our Silence on Men's Health

06.13.12 | By

Today we have a guest post from Dr. Salvatore Giorgianni, who is an expert in men's health and a pharmacist. He is an advisor and board member for Men's Health Network and serves as Chair-elect of the American Public Health Association Men's Health Caucus.

Men in the U.S. are now facing higher disease rates and earlier deaths, regardless of the fact that modern medicines are available to improve their health. Consider that in 1920, women outlived men, on average, by one year. Today, the gap has widened and men are dying, on average, five years earlier than women. Now, note that American women are 100 percent more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventative services than men. Determining where the disconnect is between men's and women's healthcare behavior and how we close this critical gap is one of the reasons we celebrate Men's Health Week every June.

Oftentimes, a patient's physical concerns, such as obesity, frequent urination, erectile dysfunction or exhaustion, which can be related or caused by illness such as hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes, can be embarrassing for men to discuss even with their physician. Instead of seeking assistance for the symptoms, and giving doctors clues as to what might be causing them, men are more likely to first try to self-treat, in some cases by purchasing medicines without prescriptions online. According to a study published in Esquire Magazine, as many as 43 percent of men have not seen a doctor in a year or more and 45 percent don't have a primary care physician. Seeking a physician's care to address health concerns before they escalate to serious illnesses is a significant step that must be taken to improve the quality of American men's lives.

When going online to purchase medicines, it is important for men to know that there are many websites that sell counterfeit medicines, including medicines to treat obesity. The rate of obesity in men has increased dramatically -- one in three men in the U.S. now have this condition, and many are going online to buy medicines to treat it. The unfortunate reality is that many criminals caught selling counterfeit obesity treatments were making them with dangerous stimulants instead of the real ingredients, which causes high blood pressure, stroke, valvular heart disease and even heart attacks.

Now, consider the range of diseases that could be tied to the symptoms men are self-treating. If not effectively treated early on, their health is likely to only further deteriorate resulting in a heart attack or stroke and leaving it up to the physicians in the emergency room to figure out the root cause of their underlying health condition.

While discussing our health is not always easy, we must make a concerted effort in this country to ensure both men and women are receiving the right information and have access to safe treatments that will ensure their long term health. Recently, the Senate took the right steps by rejecting a proposal that would have opened up the U.S. drug supply system to potential foreign counterfeit medicines that would have threatened the health and safety of patients. It is our hope that we continue to improve our understanding of the right way to improve health, not just this week, but all year long. We at Men's Health Network, along with our partners, look forward to continuing to advance these efforts in the days, months and years ahead.

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