Sunday, June 12, 2016
It’s a well-known fact that men talk about their health far less than women do and often delay seeking medical advice. However, as the patriarchal figure in most family dynamics, dads should pay even more attention to their health as the various elements of fatherhood itself can have a direct influence on their well-being. A good parent is not just about being strong and dependable, but also about looking after yourself so that you can remain part of your children’s lives well into your old age.
Becoming a father automatically puts additional pressure and stress on an individual, whether it’s coping with changes, managing sleepless nights, dealing with Post Natal Depression or the pressures of providing for a growing family. All of this can lead to common health concerns, such as stress, depression, sleep deprivation and even heart disease.
To give you some clues on what to look out for as a dad, here are the ten most common health concerns, what you should know and what you can do to prevent or reduce them.
Heart disease and strokes are the leading threat to men’s health. Cardiovascular disease is caused by cholesterol building up in the arteries, which can cause a blood clot that blocks the arteries, causing a heart attack or stroke.
In order to prevent cardiovascular diseases, dads need to start taking care of themselves earlier on in life, not when it’s too late. Eating healthily, doing regular exercise, quitting smoking and getting your blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly checked will help keep your heart in good shape.
Stress can come from various sources and affect people in different ways, whether it’s a hectic lifestyle, your job or the pressures of providing for your kids, it can put a significant strain on fathers. Recognising and dealing with stress triggers in the early stages is important as if left unchecked it can lead to more severe health concerns, such as high blood pressure, depression, ulcers, panic attacks and even heart problems. Taking a break from a stressful situation, finding ways to relax and relieve tension, such as exercise, getting enough sleep can all help people to cope with stress better.
1 in 10 dads suffers from Post Natal Depression, usually presenting itself within the first year of a child’s life, with those in their 20s being at higher risk. Some of the signs of PND in both men and women can be:
To help alleviate the feelings of PND, spend quality time bonding with your child and partner, be it bathing, playing or feeding; it will help you feel more connected. Also, eating well and staying active should improve overall feelings of well-being.
As a parent, sleep can be hard to come by, particularly in those first few years of a child’s life. However, it’s important as a dad to manage your sleep and address any ongoing issues with sleep disruption, insomnia or waking up with headaches. Not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your health long-term, resulting in high blood pressure, depression, and even heart problems.
Overweight men or those with a family history are more susceptible to this, but also reassessing your lifestyle and paying attention to diet, exercise, alcohol, smoking and stress triggers can all help lower blood pressure.
Statistics show that colon cancer is more common in men than women, and early detection is vital to fighting this disease. It can happen at any age, but dads over 50 are more susceptible, for this reason, a colonoscopy every ten years is recommended to ensure cancer development is detected at the earliest stage possible.
Another disease gaining a higher profile and awareness is prostate cancer. Although it generally affects older men, as a dad you should have a prostate examination with your GP.
Despite increased awareness, there are still many men who don’t regularly check their testicles for lumps, to ensure that any concerns are detected in the early stages. Survival rates are much higher with early detection.
Linked to many of the ailments listed above is weight gain. As you age, naturally your metabolism slows down and staying in shape becomes harder, but keeping that middle-age spread under control with regular exercise and a healthy diet will have a dramatic effect on your overall health and wellbeing as a dad.
As with most health concerns, taking action to look after yourself earlier in life with regular exercise, a well-balanced diet and frequent health checks should identify any health issues early, making them much more treatable and allowing you to focus on being a father.