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Uncover men's hidden health risks

By Trent Lorcher, Contributing writer
Published On: Jan 26 2012 05:17:18 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 29 2012 01:00:00 AM CST
doctor checking man's hearing ears

iStock/The Flying Dutchman

Men think they're invincible, notwithstanding the mounting evidence that states otherwise.

Whether it's the inability to move the morning after playing basketball, losing a footrace to an 11-year-old or not quite being able to bounce back like you once could after a night on the town, the signs are there, just waiting to be acknowledged.

Men do get less foolish over time (not to be confused with getting wise). Things such as heart attacks, cancer and strokes teach many that their time on Earth is not infinite and that they, in fact, are not invincible.

That being said, they are still men, and men tend to ignore things that aren't right in front of them and don't involve loud explosions or nudity.

That's why men need to understand these five sleeper health risks before it's too late ...

Impotence

No. 5: Erectile dysfunction

Viagra, Cialis and numerous other drug companies spend millions of dollars advertising erectile dysfunction drugs, yet no man ever admits to having it. Not surprising, considering that most men equate their manhood with their bedroom performance.

When you were younger, the issue was likely the furthest thing from your mind. But as you get older you may find that things just don't quite work like they once did.

It didn't happen overnight. It's a gradual onset. Men don't understand gradual. Here are some things you need to understand about erectile dysfunction:

  • It's not life-threatening; it only seems that way.
  • Nearly 40 percent of men over age 40 suffer from erectile dysfunction, according to WebMD.
  • Men with erectile dysfunction report less enjoyment in life; you probably knew that already.
  • Drugs exist to help with, but not cure, erectile dysfunction.
  • Erectile dysfunction can signal more serious health risks, so don't be afraid to check with your doctor.

Erectile dysfunction could also cause the next sleeper health risk ...

Headache file

No. 4: Depression and suicide

Depression is believed to occur more in women than in men. Recent discoveries, however, indicate that men are nearly as susceptible to depression -- real depression, not "my favorite team lost an important playoff game and I'm really depressed" depression.

Men being men, they often suppress it.

Unlike women, who are often more likely to express sadness when they're depressed, men are more likely to become more aggressive and resort to drinking and other irrational behaviors. According to Men's Health, suicide is the eighth-leading cause of death among men, and although women are more likely to attempt it, men are more likely to succeed.

Men are less likely to see a doctor or reach out for help. This lack of reaching out has much more serious consequences than not asking for directions while on vacation. If you suspect depression, don't wait. Get help.

Depression is a lot easier to cure than the next sleeper health risk ...

ambulance at scene of car accident

No. 3: Fatal accidents

Remember that guy at work who always went around preaching safety first, the guy you made fun of while he put on safety goggles and would not stand on the top step of a ladder, while you faked getting your finger cut off by a table saw?

That guy could prevent one of the leading causes of preventable deaths among men: accidents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common cause of death by accident involves motor vehicles. Many a man would be much better off if he had worn his seat belt, pulled over at a rest stop and taken a quick nap, or not filled out his NCAA tournament bracket while driving.

Common sense can prevent most accidents on the road or at home, including poisonings and falls, which represent the second- and third-leading accidental causes of death.

Of course, common sense eating could help you avoid the next sleeper risk ...

man jogging against blue sky

No. 2: Type 2 diabetes

There's something about a middle-aged man and his gut that's endearing ... to doctors and pharmaceutical companies, that is.

Excess weight is the leading cause of type 2 diabetes and can be prevented with a diet that includes fruits, vegetables and low-fat foods. In other words, the stereotypical "man's man" meal of steak, spare ribs or any other slab of on-sale meat five days a week needs to be altered.

Exercise helps, too. Oh, and watching other people exercise doesn't count.

If you think all this salad and strawberries and treadmills and not pounding a double Whopper with a bag of peanut butter cups and a 2-liter bottle of Dr. Pepper and a pint of Budweiser is unmanly, then maybe you'd prefer something more manly -- heart disease, blindness, nerve damage or kidney disease, for example -- all often caused by type 2 diabetes.

It also makes you more susceptible to our last sleeper health risk ...

Kidneys

No. 1: Kidney disease

WomensHealth.gov (and who better to tell men how to live than women) reports that men smoke and drink more, live less healthy lifestyles, participate in more risky behaviors, are less likely to have a regular doctor and are more likely to ignore symptoms of a health problem than women.

Winning these categories is nothing to brag about, especially when the resulting health problems could lead to death.

Unhealthy living and lack of regular checkups is a major cause of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, the two most common causes of kidney disease. Symptoms of kidney disease include a change in energy, increased water retention, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, easy bruising, light-headedness and itching.

Reduce your risk with exercise and a healthy diet. Sound familiar? It had better if you want to avoid these five sleeper health risks.