Dr Jurgita talks about how men shouldn’t be embarrassed about visiting their doctor for health problems and what symptoms to look out for to reduce the risk of developing serious illnesses.
Recent NHS statistics show that men visit their GP twenty per cent less frequently than women, ignoring symptoms and taking risks with their health. Worryingly, perhaps as a result of this, twenty two per cent of men die before the age of 65, compared to twelve per cent of women. These figures increase to forty two percent and twenty six per cent respectively for people aged 75.
Common problems include:
• Urination problems – this could include frequent urination, the sudden need to urinate, pain or trouble when urinating and blood in the urine. These symptoms could be a sign of prostate cancer – the most common cancer among British men. This cancer has a relatively high survival rate (more than two thirds), so it’s important that you get any symptoms checked out as soon as possible. Many men over 50 will suffer from an enlarged prostate at some point in their lives. This is completely normal and while it may cause discomfort, it isn’t life threatening. You should still contact the surgery as there are some treatments available. For more information on prostate cancer, visit www.prostate-cancer.org.uk.
• Enlarged testicles, a pea-sized lump in the testicles and a dull ache in the lower abdomen. These symptoms could be caused by testicular cancer, the most common cancer in men between the ages of 20 and 35. Give yourself regular self-examinations and go to your GP if you notice any changes. Help and advice about testicular cancer can be found at www.cancerhelp.org.uk/type/testicular-cancer.
• Feeling negative, overwhelmed or anxious and suffering from insomnia, loss of energy or trouble concentrating – these symptoms could be a sign of depression. Three times as many men commit suicide. So, it’s important that if you feel concerned by any of these symptoms or you notice that a loved one is suffering from any of these problems, contact the surgery or a therapist for professional help. Advice on who to turn to if you think you’re suffering from depression is available from www.mind.org.uk.
• Drinking more than 21 units of alcohol a week – excessive alcohol consumption can lead to many health problems such as heart disease, liver damage, mouth cancer, brain damage and fertility problems. Contact the surgery if you are regularly drinking over the recommended amount or if you feel that your drinking is becoming a problem and affecting everyday life. They will be able to refer you for specialist help. Check your alcohol consumption at www.drinkaware.co.uk.
• High blood pressure, high cholesterol. These health conditions could increase your risk of developing heart disease, which kills more men than women and may develop 10-15 years earlier. Contact the surgery for regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks. You can also help to reduce your risk of developing the disease by stopping smoking, increasing the amount of exercise you do, eating a healthy balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight and sticking to the recommended daily units of alcohol. For more information about heart disease, visit www.bhf.org.uk.