- This is the first of a two-part series
- Read the second part: Minimise wear and tear: a men’s health guide (part 2)
20s to 30s
In this age group most of the orthopaedic problems faced by men are mechanically induced injuries. But since modern corporate and work lifestyles have become primarily sedentary, there is a high incidence of repeated mechanical trauma to the musculoskeletal system (muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, bones) and the nervous system too. In other words, the corporate workplace has people sitting in front of a computer for hours at a stretch, using mobile phones constantly, or driving for sometimes more than two hours at a stretch. As for the intensive labour jobs, which include carrying heavy weights or pushing heavy objects, this work lifestyle leads to 30-40 per cent workplace musculoskeletal injuries.
The most common orthopaedic problems emerging among workers include:
• Spine problems
• Carpal tunnel syndrome (numbness in the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand)
• Tendinitis (inflammation of the tendons in the wrist)
• Tennis elbow (inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles to the elbow)
• Trigger finger (sensation of locking or catching when you bend and straighten your finger)
To correct these issues, young men should:
• Find out the right way to lift heavy objects to prevent back injuries
• Use handle coatings or special gloves to suppress vibrations from power tools
• Make sure that they have good posture in whatever they do, whether it is sitting in front of a computer, standing at a checkout, or walking around a warehouse.
30s to 40s
In this decade too, the mechanical induced damage as mentioned above is prevalent. But other metabolic problems may start rearing their ugly heads too. In the daily grind, most men are too busy to eat proper meals. Bad food habits like consuming excessive junk food, and odd timings of food intake, lead to weakness of bones and muscle. A bad diet can also lead to hyperuricemia (excess of uric acid in the blood), which is commonly seen in this age group. Proper diet intake and exercise help prevent the common metabolic and mechanical stress in this age.
Source: Dr Prem James Charles, medical director, specialist orthopaedic surgeon, Aster Specialist Centre for Orthopedics and Physiotherapy.
20s to 30s
Men at this age generally need more energy than elderly men, but still need to eat in moderation with a good variety and balance among the five food groups.
[Anorexia among men: breaking down an eating disorder stereotype]
If you are keen on building muscle, remember you don’t need to overdo it. Most men only need about 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, which helps to build lean muscle mass.
This works out to about 60g a day for an 80kg man. There is about 22g of protein in 80g of cooked chicken breast and 12.4g of protein in 40g of reduced-fat cheese. So it’s not much – and it’s easy to achieve if you’re eating protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy, legumes and lentils, eggs and nuts evenly distributed in every meal.
To manage your weight, you’ll need to limit high-calorie sugary drinks and energy drinks. Men should have no more than 36g of added sugar per day according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
Most men continue to build bone into the mid-20s, although not as readily as when younger. Meeting daily calcium requirements is important to help bones reach their peak strength. Doing so can help protect against osteoporosis and fractures later in life.
Men need 1,000mg of calcium each day. One milk serving (1 cup milk, 3/4 cup plain yogurt, 1-1/2 ounces hard cheese) supplies about 300mg of calcium.
Fortified non-dairy beverages such as soy, rice, and almond milk contain 300 to 330mg of calcium per cup. So do calcium-fortified juices.
Other good sources include canned salmon (3 ounces = 212mg), legumes, firm tofu, almonds, tahini and cooked green vegetables such as spinach, collard greens, and bok choy.
30s to 40s
As men step into their 30s there is a slight dip in their metabolism. The mounting stress can also lead to many health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. The stress could make them fall prey to substance abuse.
Most of these issues can be coordinated with good nutrition and exercise. Men in this age group need to understand that their body will not accept the convenient eating patterns they have had until now, and focus should be shifted more towards nutrient-dense foods.
Tips for a healthy diet and weight for men:
• Always eat a healthy breakfast
• Eat slowly and mindfully
• Listen to your body. Stop when, or even before, you’re full.
• Shop after a meal or snack (rather than when you’re hungry), and make a list so you’re less tempted to make poor choices.
• Plan healthy, quick and easy meals for busy days
• Enjoy meals with others, and not in front of the TV or while on devices
• Make healthy and smart choices when eating out. Grilled or steamed foods are healthier than deep-fried foods
• Make water your main drink. Stay hydrated
• Indulge in fruit and vegetables as snacks when you’re hungry
• Stand up regularly. Do not sit for a long time at a desk
• Keep a target of 10,000 steps daily
• Find a friend to help you stick to your healthy diet and physical activities.
Recommended apps for counting your calories are MyFitnessPal and workout apps like Fitbit Coach and Nike Training Club.
Source: Dr Janani Satchithanantham, senior dietitian, Aster Hospital, Qusais.
20s to 30s
With changing lifestyles and work environment, there is a growing need for cosmetic dermatology procedures in men. In their early 20s, they usually face acne, seborrhoea pigmentation (red rashes) and sometimes hair loss. When acne happens in men, it is usually more severe, affecting face, chest, shoulders and back. Excessive sweating and use of anabolic steroids can aggravate the condition.
Men are also more prone to developing acne scars and it’s important to treat the condition early to prevent scarring.
Tips on taking care of skin:
• Younger skin tends to produce more oil. Cleanse using an oil-free cleanser, preferably twice a day
• Use a toner to absorb the excess oils and impurities
• Ensure you use a good aftershave for its antiseptic effect to keep the skin calm
• Moisturise daily, preferably twice, using light oil-free moisturiser. It will also delay the onset of wrinkles as you get older
• Protect your face and body with sunscreen with good UVA ,UVB and visible light protection
• Use a moisturing lip balm to keep your lips hydrated, especially if you are a smoker
30s to 40s
As they grow older, men face beard-related issues, receding hairline and post inflammatory pigmentation. A receding hairline due to androgenetic alopecia (hair loss) is a common concern. Genetics, testosterone and to an extent, lifestyle, are the main causes.
Men usually want quick treatments and faster results. Since they have thicker skin with more sebum secretion, a proper skin regimen with a cleanser, toner and moisturiser is important.
Usage of sunscreen is a must.
Source: Dr Mansi Suman Mukherjee, head medical and service innovation and specialist dermatologist, Kaya ME.
20s to 30s
The most common issues young men face these days are psychosis and anxiety. This includes excessive worrying, feeling agitated or frustrated, restlessness, constantly finding distractions, difficulty remembering things or concentrating, tense muscles, trouble sleeping, avoiding people and places.
Early intervention is the key to proper mental health.
Tips for good mental health include:
• Ensure you have a good support network of people you can openly talk to and who you can trust. This is essential
• Practise mindful breathing exercises such as progressive muscles relaxation
• Make sure you stay physically active e.g. enrol for a gym class or take up a favourite sport
• Write things down to help create a sense of control
• Consider pharmacological treatment e.g. medication to help alleviate symptoms and /or see a psychotherapist trained in cognitive and behavioural therapy
30s to 40s
This is the age depression can set in due to relationship issues, workplace stress, financial pressure, sense of responsibility/failure.
Symptoms to look out for include self-sabotaging behaviour, destructive and negative thoughts, lethargy and fatigue, frequent headaches, feelings of low self-worth, helplessness or guilt, loss of interest in activities and isolating yourself from friends and family.
In order to promote positive mental health and wellbeing:
• Reach out to friends or family members who you can trust and talk to them about your difficulties. This first step is usually the toughest but also the most important one.
• Consider antidepressant medication
• See a mental health professional for an assessment and treatment, such as CBT
Apps to help keep men’s mental health on track:
4. Moodpath: Depression & Anxiety
Source: Mandeep Jassal, therapist, Priory Wellbeing Centre, Dubai.
20s to 40s
Except children and adolescents, for all other age groups, coronary artery disease is the most common form of cardiac problems. It accounts for one out of every four deaths in men. Fat deposition (Atherosclerotic plaque) happens in the arteries that supply blood to the heart (coronary arteries). During a heart attack, one of these plaques ruptures and blood clot forms blocking the blood flow in the vessel leading to heart muscle damage. Atherosclerosis is a cumulative process, starting at a fairly young age.
With ageing, the incidence of coronary artery disease increases with more plaque formation. Other risk factors that increase the incidence of atherosclerosis include smoking, high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, physical inactivity and abdominal obesity.
Smoking is the major risk factor for development of heart attacks in young men. Smoking 10 cigarettes a day increases the likelihood of coronary artery disease by 50 per cent. Also, each 30mg/dl rise in LDL cholesterol level increases the risk by 50 per cent. A rise in 10mm Hg systolic blood pressure increases the risk by 30 per cent and each 15mg/dl rise in blood sugar levels increases risk by 20 per cent.
Undiagnosed congenital heart defects or infections can also lead to heart disease in young men. In athletes, the heart is continuously subjected to increased workload during physical activities. One form of heart disease that affects young athletes is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It is the most common cause of sudden death in young athletes. Athletes with this condition have a very thick left ventricular wall. In this case, the heart’s electrical conduction system can be disrupted resulting in an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can cause cardiac arrest.
Tips to care for your heart:
• Quit smoking. Smokers die on average three years earlier than non-smokers and 10-15 years earlier if they have other risk factors. Most importantly, 30-40 per cent deaths occur before retirement.
• Maintain a BMI less than 25kg/m2 and waist circumference less than 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women.
• Ensure moderate physical activity for at least 30-40 minutes a day.
• Aim for a balanced diet with mix of carbohydrate (more of complex than simple carbs), protein (plant and animal source) and fat (more of mono and poly unsaturated fat than saturated/transfats).
• Go for periodic medical check-up. Monitor – weight/ blood pressure/ Blood sugar/ Lipid.
• Aim to maintain fasting sugar <100 mg/dl, post meal <140 mg/dl and three month average sugar HbA1c <6. LDL cholesterol should be maintained <100 mg/dl and HDL >40 mg/dl. Desired blood pressure level would be less than 140/90 mm hg.
• Stress management is a critical component in the prevention and of treatment of heart disease. A positive attitude and well-developed self-esteem are good defences against stress because they help you view stress as a challenge rather than as a problem. Relaxation of the mind is an important strategy – it’s an active process, that could be achieved by deep breathing, listening to music, reading a book, meditation, swimming or structured programmes such as yoga.
A few apps for monitoring heart health:
2. Blood Pressure Companion
3. The Healthy Heart Meal Planner...
4. ASCD Risk Estimator...
5. AliveCor ECG Heart Monitor
Source: Dr Sundar Kumar, consultant interventional cardiologist, Prime Hospital, Dubai.
20s to 40s
The endocrine system plays a critical role in human reproduction and sexuality. Throughout life, testosterone helps men maintain muscle and bone mass, sperm production, and sex drive in addition to regulation of cardiovascular health.
The 20s are when men begin to be sexually active. One of the most common problems faced by men at this age is infertility. Problems in the male partner affect about 40 per cent of infertile couples. In about 30-40 per cent cases, the problem is in the testes, which can be infected following infections such as mumps, treatments for cancer such as radiation or chemotherapy, trauma, or surgery.
Certain inherited (genetic) diseases can cause low sperm production. Other problems include long-term illness, poor overall health, obesity, certain prescription drugs, and drug abuse.
If you and your partner are unable to conceive after a year of trying, you should speak to your primary care physician, who may refer you to a fertility specialist.
Treatment for male infertility depends on the cause. Surgery can repair a blockage in the sperm transport system. If the cause is low testosterone, treatment with hormone injections is usually successful. Assisted reproductive technologies can also be considered.
To improve your chances of successful treatment, it is helpful to maintain a healthy lifestyle:
• Exercise often
• Eat a healthy diet
• Do not smoke or use recreational drugs.
Also, continue treatment for any chronic illness.
Another problem men face is low testosterone or hypogonadism. Testosterone is the most important sex hormone, responsible for the typical male characteristics, such as facial, pubic, and body hair as well as muscle. This hormone also helps maintain sex drive, sperm production, and bone health.
Long-term low testosterone may cause weak bones (osteoporosis), mood changes, less energy, and smaller testes. If you have symptoms of low testosterone, be open with your doctor about your medical history, all prescription and nonprescription drugs you are now taking, sexual problems, and any major changes in life.
Testosterone replacement therapy can improve sexual interest, mood and energy, body hair growth, bone density, and muscle mass. This treatment is safe and can be effective for men who are diagnosed with consistently abnormal low testosterone. There are several ways to replace testosterone, such as intramuscular injections, tablets, gels or pellets. Your doctor will be able to suggest the right options.
Source: Dr Ajith Kumar, specialist endocrinologist, Al Futtaim Healthcare.