Surveys would indicate that men are less likely to visit their doctor about health issues than women. This is a very worrying trend, as men can suffer from a number of health problems that can be avoided altogether or treated to stop them advancing to a more serious stage.
We all want to live a long and healthy life, but to do so, men must face up to the biggest threats that could comprise their health and ultimately shorten their life span. So, what are the most common kinds of men's health problems and how can they be avoided?
Perhaps one of the most common men’s health problems is prostate cancer. One of the most frequent kinds of cancer found in men, prostate cancer affects the prostate, a small walnut-size structure that surrounds the male urethra. The purpose of the prostate is to secrete fluid to carry sperm during ejaculation.
Prostate cancer can be relatively difficult to detect as there are often no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. However, if you do find that you have blood in your urine or semen, frequent pain in your lower back and legs or changes in urination, it is vital to see your doctor to rule out prostate cancer as a cause.
Age has been found to be the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer, with cases very rare before the age of 40. However, for men aged over 50 the chance of having prostate cancer rises substantially, so it is recommended that you have routine checks with your doctor in order to detect any early signs of prostate cancer and if possible have it treated.
Heart disease, often referred to as cardiovascular disease, is another common men’s health problem. The term itself refers to the narrowing or blocking of blood vessels to the heart that can eventually lead to a heart attack, chest pains (known as angina) or a stroke.
However, a wide range of other heart problems such as conditions that the affect the heart muscle itself, its valves or its beating rhythm are also classed as being different forms of heart disease. It is important to note that even if you currently have no obvious symptoms, you may still be at a high risk for heart disease.
Risk factors for heart disease include (but are not limited to); high cholesterol, diabetes, poor diet, physical inactivity, being overweight/obese, cigarette smoking and alcohol use. To this end, it is possible to reduce your risk of developing heart disease by making changes to your lifestyle, however, it is important to understand that some causes (such as diabetes) are often hereditary factors, therefore correct management of ongoing conditions may also be required.
Another common men’s health problem is high blood pressure. If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to damage to the arteries and this can cause a stroke due to a blocked artery or even a haemorrhage.
Often referred to as the "silent killer"; high blood pressure can remain undetected for many months or even years and to this end it is vital to have your blood pressure checked at least once a year by your doctor. Risk factors for high blood pressure include age; blood pressure will naturally increase with age, with men aged 45+ being at a higher risk of having the condition.
So, if you have any concerns at all about your health, it is vital to pay a quick visit to your doctor. Even if you are feeling well at the time, it is recommended that you have at least one check up a year to keep a track on your health and detect any possible future problems.