Friday, December 15, 2017


Male Health Matters: Why You Shouldn’t Put Off That Visit To The Doctor.

August 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Health, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.comDid you know that women are almost twice as likely to go to the doctor than men? A survey conducted by the American Heart Association found that men have an extensive list of excuses to avoid going to the doctor, including not having a doctor, not having enough time and assuming that there’s nothing wrong. Unfortunately, even if you look and feel great, you’re not immune to health problems. The reality is that any of us could fall ill at any time. We’re all mere mortals, and it’s as important for men to take note of their health as it is women. If you’re an ostrich and you tend to bury your head in the sand when it comes to your health, here are some of the most common male health conditions to look out for and some tips to help you stay healthier for longer.

Heart disease

Heart disease accounts for around 1 in 4 male deaths in the US, and it is the most common cause of death in most ethnic groups. Half of men who suffer from acute cardiac problems, including coronary heart disease, have no previous symptoms. Of all the sudden cardiac events that occur in the US, between 70 and 89 percent affect men rather than women. Heart disease is particularly prevalent in African-American men, with 100,000 more cases diagnosed in African-American men than Caucasian men every year.

The most potent risk factors for heart disease include being overweight, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, smoking, poor diet, and inactivity. The CDC believes that 49% of American men have at least one of these risk factors.

Some cases of heart disease are linked to genetics and family history, and you may be at risk of developing cardiac complications even if you have a very healthy lifestyle. However, most cases are linked to lifestyle choices, and you can reduce your chances of developing heart disease dramatically by making positive changes. The best ways to cut heart disease risk are to eat a healthy, balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise frequently, drink in moderation and avoid smoking.

If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked in the last 12 months, it’s wise to get in touch with your doctor and ask about blood pressure and cholesterol checks. There are often no obvious signs of heart disease, and routine checks can flag up potential issues.

Depression

Mental health is often thought of as a predominantly female problem. More cases of mental illness are diagnosed in women, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that issues are more prevalent in females. The worry is that the numbers are different because women are more likely to seek help than men. For many men, it’s embarrassing to admit that things aren’t quite right. You can gain kudos for having a leg injury from playing sports, and you wouldn’t think twice about telling a friend or colleague that you had a bad back. But for some reason, men are a lot more reticent to talk about what’s going on in their mind.

Depression is a poorly understood condition. There’s a perception that being depressed is just having a bad day or feeling a bit down. The truth is that depression is an illness and you can’t just shake it off or get on with it. We all have days when we don’t feel our best and the world can seem like a scary place to be, but depression is characterized by prolonged periods of time when you feel low, you feel lost or empty, and you find it hard to motivate yourself.

We’re becoming more open about mental health, but there’s still a very long way to go. If you are worried about your mental health, try and resist the temptation to tough it out or hope that things get better. Talk to somebody about how you feel. If you don’t feel comfortable confiding in a friend or a partner, see your doctor. There are lots of self-help techniques you can try, as well as treatments and therapies.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common form of male cancer. Prostate cancer kills 30,000 men in the USA every year.  Prostate cancer affects the prostate gland, a gland, which is located just in front of the rectum. The main risk factors for prostate cancer are age, race and ethnicity and family history. Around 80 percent of cases are diagnosed in men over the age of 65, and this form of cancer is more common in African-American men and men from the Caribbean who have African heritage. It is not known why the incidence is higher in some races and ethnicities than others. If you have a close relative with prostate cancer (a father or brother), your risk of developing prostate cancer will be over 50% higher than somebody who has no history of the disease in their family. The risk is particularly high in families where several relatives are affected, especially if the condition is diagnosed in younger men.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include urinating more frequently than normal, needing to urinate very suddenly, pain or a burning sensation when urinating and decreased speed of flow. In rare cases, there may also be traces of blood in the urine.

Some men may be advised to undergo screening tests, including PSA (prostate-specific antigen) and digital rectal examinations. Screening is usually recommended for men over the age of 50 and those who have an elevated risk of developing prostate cancer. Like many forms of cancer, the earlier prostate cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chances of successful treatment. Doctors are able to use advanced techniques like ultrasound technology, surgery, hormone therapy and radiotherapy to treat prostate cancer. If prostate cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, there’s a much lower risk of cancerous cells spreading outside of the gland. If you’re worried about prostate cancer or you’d like to learn more about screening, get in touch with your doctor and arrange a consultation.

Diabetes

Did you know that boys who were born in the USA in the year 2000 have a 1 in 3 chance of developing type 2 diabetes? Type 2 diabetes is often branded a silent killer because it can take a long time for symptoms to become noticeable. Diabetes affects the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels, but it can often develop gradually. In many cases, diabetes is diagnosed as a result of routine health checks or tests for other conditions. Diagnosing diabetes is incredibly important because elevated blood glucose levels cause widespread nerve and blood vessel damage. If you have diabetes and it is left untreated, this can put you at risk of serious health issues, including kidney disease, heart disease and strokes. Diabetes is also linked to dental issues, problems with your vision and foot problems, which may result in the need for amputation.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are often difficult to detect, but they may include feeling thirsty on a regular basis, urinating more frequently than usual, especially at night, feeling tired and suffering from excessive hunger. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor and book an appointment.

Often, making lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. You may be advised to do more exercise, change your diet and moderate your sugar intake. In more severe cases, treatment will focus on regulating insulin production to enable the body to control blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, you’ll also be advised to have regular eye and dental checks.

If you’re not used to exercising, and your diet isn’t brilliant, your doctor will be able to help you design a healthy eating plan and a suitable workout regimen. It’s unrealistic to expect somebody who has never been to the gym before to become an elite athlete overnight, but there are lots of different sports and activities you can try to build up your fitness gradually. You can also make really simple changes to your lifestyle, such as walking or cycling to work and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If you have a sweet tooth and you’re finding it tough to change your diet, your doctor or a nutritionist can also help you to cope with cravings and find some suitable food swaps. It can take some getting used to, but after a couple of weeks, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make changes sooner.

Surveys suggest that men are much less likely to see a doctor than women. The reality is that men are not immune to health problems, and it’s so important to be aware of potential warning signs and symptoms and to act on them. Nobody wants to think about having to battle an illness, but sometimes, this is exactly what you have to do. Next time you don’t feel well, or you notice unusual symptoms, don’t hope that they’ll go away. Pick up the phone and make that appointment. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Staff Writer; Doug Shaw


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