On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness news for all Oklahomans.

Your Men's Health Questions, Answered.

08 July 2016

Posted in

In honor of International Men's Health Week in June, you asked INTEGRIS internal medicine physician Dr. Justin Sparkes your men's health questions. Dr. Sparkes is a board-certified internal medicine physician and a Fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Internists. He is a graduate of Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine, and completed his residency at the Osteopathic Medical Center of Texas, where he served as chief resident. He believes the roles people play in their lives affect their health and wellness. He strives to balance his patients’ care with an emphasis on health maintenance and prevention.

1. My husband is very healthy and very active at 49. He eats a healthy diet most of the time and exercises daily. Should he be taking any vitamins or minerals? His only ailment is that he gets some knee and back pain at times. He's not on any medications.

A good balanced diet has shown to negate the need for supplements. That said, a basic multivitamin is an easy addition to a morning routine and will not have an adverse effect on anyone’s health.

2. How do testosterone levels change as men age, how does it generally affect them, and what can they do about it?

Testosterone levels will naturally decrease with age, but very few men will need supplementation with testosterone. If a man has a healthy, active lifestyle he will likely maintain an average level for his age group.

3. I have recurring back pain from on old sports injury. I take 800 milligrams of ibuprofen three times a day, so that’s 2400 milligrams a day. Is that too much? Can I take that much every day in the future, or should that amount only be taken occasionally?

Yes, that is too much. In the long-term taking that much ibuprofen could be a problem, for sure. Depending on other factors, for some people it would not be safe to take that much. We would worry about stomach and kidney problems.

4. I’m a 39-year-old very healthy man. When do I need to start getting screened for different illnesses and conditions, and what should I get screened for, and what is the timing for those screenings?

We have set schedules for how often a preventive visit needs to occur, which would include a physical, some screenings and vaccinations, cancer surveillance, and more.  When you turn 40, you should schedule your visit annually. Before that, we recommend a biannual wellness visit unless other risk factors are involved. Learn more about important preventive screenings here.

5. I am a man in his 40s who wants to GAIN weight. Although I eat very healthy, do cardio almost daily, and weight training three times a week, my frame is still very skinny. Is there a right way to gain weight and muscle mass so that I’m not such a beanpole?

Yes, first we would want to do a couple of screening tests and a physical exam.  If these are normal, you could benefit by changing your nutrition goals and activity regimen. Your doctor or a dietitian can help with that.

6. I’m a 70-year-old man in just okay health (I’m overweight and have had a few non-serious cancer scares). I smoked for 40 years but finally quit a few years ago. Is there anything I can be doing to help my lungs or is the damage done at this point?

The number one thing is to not smoke again. Believe it or not, losing the excess weight is going to be very protective in a number of ways, including lung health. Finally, exercise will increase the function of your lungs greatly, but the type of exercise may need to be modified based on what your doctor says.

7. I’m in my 60s, my son is in his 30s, and my grandson is in his late teens. Should we each have an annual check-up? What screenings do we each need each year? What immunizations? Are there different things we should each be doing for disease prevention based on our ages?

For check-ups:
  • In your 60s: every year.
  • In your 30s: if healthy, every other year is probably fine.
  • In your teens: every year.
Each age group will have a specific set of exams, vaccines and screenings. And not to sound repetitive, but a healthy diet and regular exercise are the very best medicine, and are the most important things you each can do to stay healthy. Beyond that, the screenings will help guide patient-specific recommendations.

8. Do treatments for baldness and thinning hair really work?

Yes, they do work, but as with medications, there might be some medicine interactions that should be reviewed by a doctor before you start taking them.

9. My father had a heart attack pretty young. Should I be worried about having one?

Yes, your genetics are a strong predictor for heart attacks. But in today’s medical environment, it’s easy for physicians to predict which patients are at high risk and then manage their care to prevent the worst outcome.

10. I haven’t exercised in many years but I need to get in better shape. Where do I even start?

Doctors absolutely love to give advice like this! We get very happy when patients want to start this journey. But to start, I caution you to begin slowly until you see how much you can tolerate, and to increase gradually from there. Remember, even small changes can have big results eventually. From basic cardio and weight training to generally staying active, you have many options.

11. What do you think of magnesium sprays for insomnia and pain management? I read that spraying it on trouble spots helps with pain management, and spraying on the soles of my feet helps with insomnia. Is this true?

The results do not look consistent, so it’s not something I would recommend to my patients unless more real science proved these claims.  But we do have methods, with or without pharmaceuticals, which can help. If medicines are needed, we have other options that have been well-studied, and we can have a better discussion with you about their risks vs. benefits.