Traditionally, it wasn’t uncommon for men to ignore their health, however the old fashioned ideology of masculinity is on its way out and more and more men are starting to take care of themselves. If you hear the phrase men’s health you’d often think of issues such as certain types of cancer and infertility issues. But the truth is, there’s a lot we all need to do to ensure we keep a healthy lifestyle on track.
What are the most important medical symptoms men shouldn’t ignore?
Whilst any symptom that causes you discomfort should be reported to your doctor, there are some specific signs no man should ever ignore. They include:
An unusual lump
Testicular cancer is most common in men 20 to 35 and nearly 2,500 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year in the UK.
So get into the routine of checking yourself regularly and if you notice a lump or abnormality in your testicles you should see your GP. Most testicular lumps are not cancer, but if it is, treatment is much more effective if the cancer is diagnosed early.
Check your moles regularly and look for any change in colour or shape. Most changes are harmless and are due to a non-cancerous increase of pigment cells in the skin.
Go and see your GP if a mole looks unusual, starts bleeding or becomes itchy. It can then be checked and removed if necessary.
To minimise your risk of skin cancer, avoid exposure to the sun between 11am and 3pm. Cover up and use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15 when you’re in the sun.
Mental health is no longer the taboo subject that it once was and it’s important to seek help if you’re feeling low, losing interest in things you used to enjoy or struggling to cope.
Depression is a real illness with real effects on your work, social and family life. It’s more common in women, but suicide rates are higher among men. This may be because men are more reluctant to seek help. There are all sorts of treatment available like guided self-help, talking therapies and various forms of drugs.
So if you’ve been having feelings of extreme sadness, pop in to see your GP.
This is a common ailment, but one that shouldn’t be ignored as it can be a sign of problems with the prostate gland. When the prostate is enlarged, it can press on the tube that carries urine from the bladder. This can make it hard to pass urine, which can be a sign of prostate disease, including cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. More than 30,000 men are diagnosed with it every year. Other symptoms include pain or burning when you pass urine and frequently waking up in the night to pee. If you have any of these symptoms you should talk to your GP.
During their life most men will have impotence issues. If your symptoms last for several weeks you should seek medical advice. Usually lifestyle changes such as loosing weight and exercise can correct the problem.
Your GP will assess your general health because impotence, also known as erectile dysfunction, can be a sign of more serious conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.
Keeping a keen eye out for early signs of health problems is important, but there are also things you can do to protect yourself both now and in the future. These include:
- Eating a healthy diet that includes all of the major food groups and watching your portion sizes
- Try to get 30 minutes or more exercise a day – adding up to at least 150 minutes a week
- Look after your bones by eating three servings of low fat dairy products every day and try to undertake weight-bearing exercises like walking, running or a chosen hobby such as 5-a-side football at least three times a week
- Get regular health screenings as advised
- Take time out for yourself. Experts say 30 minutes a day is ideal if you can fit it in. Make it a time when you do something just for you – reading, working in the garden, chatting online with friends – whatever relieves your stress will add years to your life and life to your years!
Knowing your body
It sounds obvious but we all know our own bodies better than anyone and by carrying out regular self-examinations and keeping an eye on any changes we can see if they are the result of a minor aliment such as a virus or cold or something that requires checking out by your doctor.
For more advice on men’s health issues and prevention click here