Having a proactive attitude toward your health will not only provide you with greater peace of mind; it may also stop relatively minor problems from developing into potentially serious conditions, reports Bo Heamyan.

Ignoring your own body when it is trying to tell you it needs some rest and relaxation is like refusing to take your car into the garage when it starts making funny noises; the longer you leave it, the worse things will get. The irony is many of the most common health problems men suffer with are actually quite easy to prevent in the first place.

So what are some of the most common health problems you can avoid?

Lower back pain

Whilst most men are likely to suffer with lower back pain at some point in their lives, there are ways of mitigating your chances of having to deal with this debilitating condition. For instance, simple measures like standing up straight and retaining good posture when sitting down can be hugely beneficial, as can adopting sensible techniques when endeavouring to lift cumbersome items. Implementing a suitably tailored workout routine to strengthen your lower back can also be advantageous, as it will make your back less prone to injury.

Key facts & figures

Up to 80 percent of people in industrialised countries will experience back pain at some point during their lifetime. Up to half (15 percent-49 percent) will suffer lower back pain in any one year. Statistics show that the number of people experiencing back pain increases with advancing age, with maladies developing modestly in teenage school children and peaking in adults of between 35-55 years of age.

Current estimates suggest that 632.045 million people worldwide suffer from low back pain.

Chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, and stress relief… all help ease back pain. The key is to get moving again as soon as possible after the pain hits, and then make sure you take steps to prevent a return.

Mehmet Oz, MD
Host of The Dr. Oz Show

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a disorder that causes acid reflux and heartburn. The best way to stave off the effects of GERD is to avoid eating spicy and/or fatty foods. If cutting these delicacies out of your diet altogether is not a realistic option then try to lose weight and give up smoking instead. Being overweight significantly increases your chances of experiencing GERD while smoking keeps your lower oesophageal sphincter from being able to function to its full potential.

Key facts & figures

According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), the two most frequently reported symptoms of GERD are heartburn and acid regurgitation. One out of five people with GERD experience heartburn or acid regurgitation on a weekly basis while two out of five people suffer heartburn or acid regurgitation at least once a month.

Shedding excess pounds is the most effective way to control GERD symptoms. Eat moderately sized meals and don’t eat for at least two hours before bedtime. A brisk walk after dinner is fine, but wait until your stomach is empty before more vigorous exercise.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
Nutrition diva

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a disorder that causes individuals (mostly men) to repeatedly stop and start breathing throughout the night. Whilst sleeping on your back and quitting smoking can help to prevent the onset of sleep apnoea, maintaining a good bodyweight is arguably the best preventative measure of all.

Key facts & figures

Over 50 percent of all sleep apnoea cases are diagnosed in people aged 40 and over. Sleep apnoea is more prevalent in men than women.

100,000,000 people worldwide have sleep apnoea. 4-9 percent of middle-aged men suffer from apnoea as opposed to 2-4 percent of middle-aged women.

Weight loss is… really your only hope in curing the sleep apnoea without having to wear a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask. In addition, it would be wise to avoid sleep aids since they can exacerbate the condition.

Sanaz Majd, MD
House Call Doctor

Skin cancer

Although you may think that skin cancer is not such a concern if you spend most of your time indoors, it is still a risk if you exercise outdoors first thing in the morning or late in the evening, or even if you spend a little amount of time outside but regularly. If this applies to you, make sure you apply plenty of waterproof sunscreen and put on some protective clothing before heading out for your morning or evening jog.

Key facts & figures

Cancer Research UK estimates that almost 200,000 people worldwide were diagnosed with malignant melanoma (the most serious form of skin cancer) in 2008. It is believed more people have had skin cancer over the past three decades than all other cancers combined.

The World Health Organisation estimates around 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. Malignant melanoma incidence rates are highest in Australia/New Zealand males (41.8 per 1,000 people) and lowest in South-Central Asia (0.2 per 1,000 people).

Prevention is key when dealing with skin cancer. Use a sunscreen… with an SPF of 30 that blocks the two main forms of ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB. Re-apply it every two hours.

Rob Lamberts, MD
House Call Doctor

Heart disease

Heart disease is a leading cause of death amongst adult males all across the world. Even though heart disease may seem very grave and almost inevitable to some extent, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of being afflicted. Certainly, cutting out smoking, maintaining a healthy bodyweight, getting regular exercise and eating a diet low in fat and sodium will help no end. Addressing other health issues like high blood pressure and high cholesterol will also help to swing the odds in your favour.

Key facts & figures

Heart disease is an umbrella term for all diseases pertaining to the heart and circulatory system, including heart disease, stroke, heart failure and congenital heart disease. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 80 percent of premature heart disease and stroke is preventable.

Stop smoking. Do three or four sessions of moderate intensity exercise each week, for around 30 minutes a time. This will significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.

Dr Roger Henderson, GP
Sunday Times medical columnist

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