Five health symptoms men shouldn’t ignore
On average, men go to their GP half as often as women. But delaying check-ups and treatment until you’re seriously ill is a dangerous gamble, especially because not all ailments have symptoms. During Men’s Health Week, we list some of the most common health issues for men and the symptoms that should never be ignored…
In men, pain or a burning sensation when urinating can signal an enlarged prostate gland or prostate cancer.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate, may be caused by hormone changes in aging men and affects up to 50% of men in their 60s and as many as 90% in their 70s.
But prostate cancer – the most common cancer in men in the UK – is much more serious. More than 30,000 men are diagnosed with it every year. The earliest stages of the disease often have no symptoms, but if you display any symptoms like trouble urinating, a weak urine stream, blood in urine or semen, pelvic pain or discomfort and frequent urinary tract infections you should visit your GP straight away.
A lump on your testicle
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 20-35. Nearly 2,000 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year in the UK, and regular self-examination is recommended.
If you notice a lump or abnormality in your testicles, first see your GP. Most testicular lumps are not cancer, but it is essential to have any abnormalities checked. This is because treatment for testicular cancer is much more effective if the cancer is diagnosed early.
Check your moles regularly and be aware of any change in colour or shape, or if they start bleeding. Most changes are harmless and are due to a non-cancerous increase of pigment cells in the skin.
See your GP if a mole looks unusual 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.
If you’re depressed, you may lose interest in things you used to enjoy. Depression is an illness that can affect your work, social and family life. Treatment usually involves a combination of self help, talking therapies and drugs.
Depression is more common in women, but men are far more likely to commit suicide. This may be because men are more reluctant to seek help. If you’ve been having feelings of extreme low mood or anxiety, contact your GP.
After age 50, constipation tends to worsen in men and women, due to diet changes, decrease in exercise, medications, certain diseases or prolonged bed rest after an accident or illness.
Occasional constipation can be relieved with an over-the-counter remedy. But chronic constipation can signal a tumor in the lower bowel that’s blocking waste from exiting the body.
In fact, any change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhoea) that last two or more weeks should be evaluated. Both can signal colorectal cancer, which is the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in men.
Other symptoms to watch for are bloody or narrow stools, unexplained weight loss or fatigue, cramping and bloating. If you have any of these symptoms you need to see your GP.