40 Things Every Man Over 40 Should Know About His Health
Aging doesn’t discriminate.
First, it's a shoulder ache. Next, it's trouble with your digestion. Then it's a bout of crippling lower back pain. And then it's a string of chronic fatigue. And then, and then, and then…
It's natural that as you age, your body goes through changes—and once you pass the big 4-0, you really start to notice those shifts. Your 40s are the perfect time to get educated about major health risks, and maybe even make some lifestyle changes. Here are 40 things every man should know about his health if he wants to stick around for years to come.
You should be more adamant about wearing sunscreen.
If you haven't been wearing sunscreen on the daily—and not just when you go to the beach—it's a good idea to start doing so. According to Inna Knyazevych, esthetician at In-Glow Med Spa in New York City, your 40s can mean a change in your skin, and protecting your complexion from those harmful UV rays is a must.
"Men's skin is naturally thicker and has more collagen. As we age, collagen production declines and men in their 40s start seeing many changes as well. If fact, some of them are more prominent, like hyperpigmentation, for example," she says. "Men tend to be less cautious about sun exposure and don't really use products to repair the damage that's been done."
High stress is wreaking havoc on your skin.
Stress can seriously affect your health, contributing to high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, digestive disorders, and other issues, says Harvard Medical School. As you age, living a high-stress life can also show up on your skin. "Dark circles, another concern for men after 40, are a result of high stress levels and skin thinning," Knyazevych says. "Eye cream with vitamin K can help fix the issue."
Your hormones are changing.
Men might not experience menopause like women, but you will experience hormone shifts that can cause changes in your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, testosterone levels typically drop an average of 1 percent per year after 30, meaning, by the time you hit your 40s, your levels have certainly reduced. With this can come a change in sexual function, sleep patterns, increased body fat, and emotional changes, including depression and a lack of motivation or self-confidence—all things your doctor can help address to make sure you feel your best.
Your mental health should be your top priority.
Are you generally feeling down, agitated, and tired? That could be due to depression—something that affects more than 14.8 million American adults. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, letting it go untreated can affect every aspect of your life—much more than your mood. Depressed individuals are also more likely to have cardiovascular disease, back problems, arthritis, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
You're at a higher risk for oral cancers.
As you get older, your risk for certain health problems typically increases—including issues in your mouth. "Men over 40 should know they have a higher risk for oral cancers," says Inna Chern, DDS, of New York General Dentistry. "It's often linked to smoking and heavy alcohol consumption. In addition, researchers have noted that HPV is on the rise and certain strains have been shown to cause oral cancers."
Flossing is more crucial than ever, even if you hate it.
If there's anything most people can agree on despising, it's flossing. Even though it's annoying to do, it can make a huge difference in your oral hygiene as you age.
"The most important thing anyone can do for their dental health is spend four minutes a day brushing: two minutes in the morning and two at night, and one minute flossing their teeth," says Sonya Krasilnikov, DDS, co-founder and cosmetic general dentist at Dental House in New York City. "When done properly, we see more and more patients keeping their natural teeth later and later in life."
Your medications could be causing other issues.
Medications do a pretty good job of helping people deal with health issues, but it's also important to be aware of other problems they might be causing. Luckily, if you stay open with your doctor, you can work together to find an option that's best for you.
"Men in their 40s begin taking medications for various health issues, and many commonly-used medications cause dry mouth, also known as xerostomia," says Krasilnikov. "Having a dry mouth is not only uncomfortable, it makes chewing food challenging, causes bad breath, and significantly increases your cavity risk."
You're at risk of kidney stones.
You don't need us to tell you that kidney stones are no fun. The hard objects—which are made of chemicals in your urine—can be caused by everything from not drinking enough water to eating too many salty or sugary foods. But age can also be a factor. According to the National Kidney Foundation, the lifetime risk is higher in men—19 percent, compared to 9 percent in women—and the first episode often occurs after age 30. To prevent them from happening, stay healthy; high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes only increase the risk.
It's important to know your family history.
Once you hit your 40s, it's important to brush up on your family history to make sure your doctor knows anything you're at a higher risk for.
"In this age range, family history of diseases such as heart disease, colon cancer, and prostate cancer are greatly important. Family history like this helps direct appropriate health screenings at the appropriate age for each patient," says Ryan Berglund, MD, urology specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. "Lifestyle modifications are especially important in this age group for patients with a family history of heart disease."
You might start losing your hair.
Research has found that male androgenetic alopecia—the most common cause of hair loss in men—affects 30 to 50 percent of men by the time they turn 50 years old. Because experiencing male androgenetic alopecia is often considered a risk factor for health issues like arterial stiffness and cardiovascular disease, it's a good idea to bring it up to your doctor.
You could start to experience adult acne.
Hair loss is one thing, but you could also experience another change to your appearance throughout your 40s: more pimples. "The hormonal changes men face can also result in adult acne," says Knyazevych. "It's also very common for the skin to become more sensitive and prone to rosacea at this age."
Annual skin exams should be required.
How many of your annual physicals have involved a skin exam? The next time you set one up, ask your doctor to look over your freckles and moles, too. "One of the most important practices after 40 should be an annual skin check," Knyazevych says. "It could be truly lifesaving."
It might be time to invest in a good scale.
If you struggle with staying at a healthy weight, it might be a good idea to monitor it more closely until you develop healthier eating and exercise habits that keep that number in check. According to the Cleveland Clinic, your metabolism can slow down as you age, and when you put on a lot of extra pounds, you could be setting yourself up for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, certain types of cancer, sleep apnea, kidney disease, and other health issues.
You might need to up your vitamin D and calcium.
As you get older, paying attention to your bone health becomes more and more important. To keep your bones nice and strong, there are certain dietary needs to take note of.
"Bone health is something that we need to maintain as we get older, and with a mixture of a healthy diet and vitamins and supplements, you can reduce the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis," says Angie Kuhn, RDN, director of research and nutrition for Persona Nutrition in Snoqualmie, Washington. "Nutrients critical for bones include vitamin D and calcium, and vitamin D deficiency can become common as you age."
Make sure your cholesterol levels are checked.
Many men think they don't need to get their cholesterol levels checked until they're 50, but that's not the case. In fact, waiting could set you up for health problems in the future. According to the Cleveland Clinic, total cholesterol should be measured every five years starting at age 20, so make sure to ask your doctor about your levels now. If your arteries start to clog, you could be putting your life at risk.
You're at a higher risk for TMD.
If you have no idea what TMD is, you're not alone. Short for temporomandibular joint disorder, it's a problem that occurs with the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull, causing difficulty chewing, clicking and locking noises, and jaw pain. And Chern says men over 40 are at a higher risk of it happening. "TMD's exact causes are unknown, but certain cumulative age-related factors such as muscle spasms, changes in tooth structure, and trauma and arthritis may contribute to the disorder," she says.
You might need to up the amount of omega-3s you're getting.
If you don't have a lot of healthy fats—like from nuts, chia seeds, and avocados—in your diet, you might want to up the amount of omega-3s you're getting.
"Omega-3s are crucial at every stage of life. They support important functions in the body, from brain, skin, eye and heart health to hormone regulation, healthy inflammatory response, muscle strength, and more," says Leah Gordon, ND, naturopathic health advisor at Needed. "Several meta studies also suggest that omega-3s support sperm quality and natural conception."
Aches and pains could signal health problems.
When you're younger, you probably have a good idea of where your aches and pains are coming from. Now that you're in your 40s, however, you might want to consider getting any that pop up checked out: It could be your body trying to tell you something.
"While not every sign or symptom you experience requires attention, it's important to address the ones that are lingering or getting worse," says Keira L. Barr, MD, the founder and chief wellness officer of Resilient Health Institute. "Life is busy and you may be tempted to brush off aches, pains, or spots that are growing or changing as part of the normal aging process. But here's the thing: Pain and skin changes are signals that your body needs attention. When in doubt, check it out—and advocate for yourself to get testing done when appropriate."
It's crucial to keep your heart healthy.
Are you taking good care of your heart? According to the National Institute on Aging, as you age, you're more likely to suffer from heart issues like heart attacks, stroke, heart failure, or heart disease, with your highest risk being at age 65 and older. That means now's the time to make sure you're keeping your heart as healthy as possible to lower your risk in the future.
You need to quit smoking, once and for all.
If you're still smoking by the time you hit 40, it's time to quit—stat. According to the National Institute on Aging, it's the leading cause of preventable death. By quitting now, you'll drastically cut your risk of everything from heart disease and stroke to cancer in the future.
It's important to tune into your body.
If a workout hurts, don't do it. If a new diet is making you feel iffy, stop eating that way. Now's not the time to try and do what's popular—it's the time to listen to your body and figure out what's best for you.
"Just because social media is popularizing the latest fad, trend, or workout as 'the best way' to get in shape or increase longevity doesn't make it true…and it certainly doesn't make it true for you," Barr says. "Tuning into your body and being mindful of how it responds to your diet, workouts, lifestyle, and environmental exposures—including the quality of your air, water, and level of EMFs—is the only truth that matters for optimizing your health."
You need to take care of any gingivitis, stat.
If you have gingivitis—a common form of gum disease that leads to inflamed, red, and irritated gums—it's time to schedule a dentist appointment to take care of the problem before it messes with your overall health.
"Men over 40 should know that untreated gingivitis can increase their already higher risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart attack and stroke," Chern says. "Heart disease is the leading problem in men over 40, and increased bacteria and inflammation in the mouth have been shown to increase the likelihood of heart disease. The bacteria and inflammatory cells enter the bloodstream due to the vascularity of the mouth and get trapped in vessels in and around the heart."
Exercise isn't a luxury—it's a necessity.
As you age, men typically experience a diminished aerobic capacity, stiffer blood vessels, muscle loss, and weight gain. While you can't stop everything that naturally happens to your body over time, Harvard Medical School says you can slow it down by sticking to an exercise program you love. Instead of viewing exercise as something you do to look good, think of it as the key to living a longer, happier life.
You should be thinking about your prostate health.
Prostate health is something you should bring up to your doctor if your family members have had problems in the past. "While there are competing recommendations regarding the appropriate time to initiate prostate cancer screenings, it should be discussed with your primary physician in your 50s—even earlier with a family history of prostate cancer," Berglund says.
You should up your probiotics.
If you're not already eating fermented foods—like kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso—on the regular, make sure you're getting enough probiotics to keep your gut health in check.
"You should be increasing your probiotic intake as you age. While there are some probiotics in foods, there are many more strains that you can benefit from with a supplement, including weight control and gastric health," Kuhn says. "While probiotic strains improve the healthy balance of good bacteria in your digestive tract, research shows this helps with immune function—your body's ability to fight infection, which is extremely important as you age."
Ask your doctor about your vitamin needs.
Making sure you're getting everything you need nutrition-wise could help prevent health problems from occurring in the first place. "As men age, they may be more likely to take prescription medications, but it's beneficial to also increase vitamin and supplement intake based on their doctor's recommendations for their specific needs," Kuhn says.
Staying social can greatly benefit your health.
A busy schedule and a great deal of stress makes it hard to have the energy to spend time with friends. But loneliness isn't good for anyone, especially as you age: According to a 2012 study published in JAMA, being lonely not only makes it more difficult to do everyday activities as you age, it also increases your risk of death.
You need to keep challenging yourself.
After working all day, you probably head home and watch television or scroll through your phone. Instead, try doing something that keeps your brain working—like reading, doing a puzzle, or playing a game. According to a 2001 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, doing so can help keep your mind strong as you age and even help fight off Alzheimer's.
You're more likely to have sleep apnea.
Most of the time, men don't know they're dealing with sleep apnea. The sleep disorder occurs when your breathing stops and starts throughout the night, and could explain any loud snores or constant tiredness. And according to Chern, men over 40 are two to three times more likely to have it.
"Sleep apnea is correlated with heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, weight gain, bruxism, and dry mouth. Dentists are often the first to diagnose or suspect sleep apnea because we look at mouths and throats all day," Chern says. "Many dental practitioners are making mandibular advancement appliances to help alleviate some of the symptoms, which include snoring, insomnia, sleep deprivation, and a general feeling of being tired throughout the day."
You're at a higher risk of experiencing urinary incontinence.
Let's be honest: Most people have peed their pants a tiny bit laughing a time or two. As you get older, urinary incontinence—or accidentally leaking urine—occurs way more often. According to Michigan Medicine, the problem happens more often in older than younger men and can either be a short-term issue or last a long time. If you're experiencing problems, chat with your doctor to find ways to control it, whether it's taking medicine, doing exercises, or making certain lifestyle changes, like cutting back on caffeine.
You should be performing testicular self-exams.
If you don't already do testicular self-exams at home, you're not alone: A 2018 Cleveland Clinic survey found that only 40 percent of men between the ages of 35 to 54 do. But taking the time has the potential to save your life. "Testicular self-exams are quite easy to do and recommended for men in this age range," says Berglund. "Palpating, or examining using one's hands, a lump on testicular self-exams is the most common presenting symptom of testicular cancer, making it that much more important."
Stop drinking so much alcohol.
Back in the day, you could probably throw back quite a few brewskis with no hesitation. Now those hangovers are trying to tell you something: Your body can't handle that much booze anymore. To stay healthy for years to come, the National Institute on Aging says men should stick to a maximum of two drinks a day, and—just FYI—one drink means one 12-ounce can or bottle of beer or one 5-ounce glass of wine, not the whole pack or bottle.
Sleep isn't just for beauty anymore.
Sure, sleep helps get rid of under-eye bags so you can impress in your work meetings without looking like you were up all hours of the night. But it's also important for your overall health, especially as you age.
"Getting quality sleep is crucial to help regulate your body's natural rhythms and generate the anti-aging and antioxidant hormones like melatonin, glutathione, and growth hormone, which play a role in combating DNA damage, cancer, chronic disease, and maintaining the integrity of your skin barrier function," Barr says. "When it comes to skin health, the likelihood of breakouts, rashes, skin infections, wrinkles, and the aggressiveness of skin cancer increase when sleep quality and quantity decrease."
You're at a greater risk of diabetes.
There are many risk factors for type 2 diabetes—including your weight and family history—but one you might not have known about is your age. According to the Mayo Clinic, your risk increases as you get older—particularly after you turn 45. In fact, the National Diabetes Statistics Report stated there were 10.7 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed in men and women within the 45 to 64 age range in 2015 alone.
Getting naked could save your life.
"There's a reason why getting naked is so important for you, now more than ever," Barr says. "Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer worldwide? In fact, in the United States, 1 in 5 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer. Don't let yourself be a statistic. Instead, check your skin every single month. That means top to bottom, head to toe, including all the cracks, crevices, and intimate bits for any spots that are growing, changing, persistently bleeding, and/or stand out."
Managing your stress is a must.
One thing you've probably learned over the years is stress doesn't seem to fade away—it only gets more intense. Because you'll probably never be able to say sayonara to it for good, you need to learn how to manage it so it doesn't affect your health. The National Institute on Aging says the best way to do so is by meditating, doing physical activity, and talking your problems out with those close to you or a professional.
Your vision could get worse.
If you have 20/20 vision now, enjoy it while you can. According to the American Optometric Association, adults typically begin to have problems seeing clearly starting in their early- to mid-40s, and having a desk job where you're staring at a computer all day only makes it worse. No matter what shape your eyes are currently in, you should see an eye doctor at least every two years, if not more often.
You're at a higher risk for gum disease.
How often do you really go to the dentist? If it's not the recommended twice-a-year schedule, you could be really hurting your health.
"Men over 40 should know they're at higher risk for gum disease," Chern says. "Studies have shown older men exhibit poorer oral hygiene habits and visit dental professionals less frequently than their female counterparts. Medical ailments such as joint pain also increase after 40 and may make it harder to brush and floss."
You have to put more thought into what you're eating.
Sure, grabbing your favorite burger for lunch at the diner down the street from your office is delicious. Unfortunately, your heart isn't as into the greasy meal as you are. According to the National Institute on Aging, getting older means having to be more cautious of what you're putting in your body. To keep your heart health in check, it's best to eat low amounts of added sugar, salt, and trans fats and instead focus on filling your plate with fruits and veggies.
You have to take your health into your own hands.
When it comes to your health, your doctors can only do so much. In your 40s, it's crucial that you putting your well-being at the forefront.
"Imagine feeling, looking, and performing your absolute best every day. You can, starting today," Barr says. "Your doctor can provide you with recommendations, guidelines, and evidence-based treatment recommendations, but at the end of the day, you have to be willing to invest the time, energy, and resources into getting the results you desire. Set yourself up for success and get intentional about your goals, then take one action every day to help achieve them." And for more ways to live better in your 40s and beyond, here are 40 Amazing Habits to Adopt After 40.
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