Men’s Health Week: 16 Symptoms Men Should Never Ignore
Constantly thirsty? Regularly constipated? Trouble urinating? Losing weight for no apparent reason? Easily fatigued?
For most men these issues are normally just symptoms of temporary health concerns, which quickly pass.
But they could also belie potentially life-threatening problems, being early signs of cancer, heart disease or impending strokes.
Sadly, men are notorious for ignoring health symptoms, with NHS figures showing they visit GPs half as often as women but suffer from a similar number of ailments and conditions.
To combat this, Men’s Health Week, 10th–16th June, has been created to raise awareness and encourage men to visit their GPs, and this year the focus is on mental health and wellbeing.
In support of MHW Dr Fox has launched our March to the Doctor campaign.
We urge men everywhere to make an appointment with their GP today to get any health concerns, large and small, seen to.
Below we’ve listed 16 ‘minor’ symptoms that could belie a major underlying cause, but even if your symptom isn’t included on this list we would still encourage you to see your doctor straight away.
Some health symptoms are obvious indicator that something’s wrong, but others are more subtle.
It’s these little health niggles, the ones that are often ignored, that can pose the greatest risk to your health, since they often don’t get checked out by a doctor until they’ve been going on for a while and the underlying issue has had plenty of time to progress and do more damage.
Changes to Moles
It’s unlikely you don’t have a single mole &en; some people have many – and it pays to keep a close eye on them and check them regularly for colour changes, shape changes, bleeding or itchiness. Often moles that get darker are simply due to a change in skin pigmentation, but both this and the other symptoms can also be an early indicator of skin cancer.
We all feel down at some point or another, but depression is a serious illness that many men ignore. Despite the similarity in the levels of men and women suffering from mental health problems, men are far more likely to go undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, than women. Depression can be treated in a variety of different ways including CBT, counselling, medication and lifestyle changes. If you’ve been feeling down, anxious, stressed or tearful for more than two weeks, make an appointment with your GP today.
Whilst short-term constipation can stem from a bad diet or sedentary lifestyle, and can be resolved via over-the-counter medicine, longer-term constipation lasting a fortnight or more could be due to a tumour that is blocking the bowels. Colorectal cancer is the third most deadly cancer amongst men so it’s a very serious matter that shouldn’t be ignored.
Of course, thirst is normally just an indicator of dehydration and can be solved with a glass of water. However, if you are constantly thirsty no matter how much you drink it could be an indicator of diabetes. Diabetes is an incurable disease that affects the blood sugar levels and can be fatal. The good news is that it can be kept under control with either medication or simple lifestyle changes so the sooner it’s discovered, the better for your health.
If you think snoring is simply an annoyance for your partner, think again. Chronic snoring accompanied by breathing lapses might indicate obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS), which can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and even death. If you’ve been told you always snore at night, don’t laugh it off &en; make an appointment to see your GP today.
Many men put trouble urinating down to a simple fact of ageing, but the truth is that this symptom almost always belies an underlying issue that could be serious. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK and it causes an enlargement of the prostate, which presses against the tube carrying urine from the bladder and makes it difficult to urinate.
Wheezing, or a shortness of breath, can be an indicator of asthma, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the last of which is the fifth leading cause of death amongst men. COPD almost always stems from smoking so if you are a smoker and are experiencing this symptom, be sure to visit your GP right away. However even if you don’t smoke it’s still prudent to get this checked out in case you are suffering from asthma or heart disease.
Changes to Breast Tissue
Changes to the nipples or surrounding tissue are commonly ignored by men because they believe that breast cancer only happens to women. However, the truth is that men can and do get it too. Signs to look out for are lumps, puckered skin, nipple discharge and sore or scaly skin around the nipples, all of which should be looked at by your GP as soon as possible.
‘Pain’ is a pretty vague symptom and this can put some men off visiting their doctor, especially since ageing is commonly associated with general aches and pains. However, chronic or worsening pain in the same part of the body could be an indicator of cancer as growing tumours can press painfully against nerves, muscles and organs.
Changes to Testicles
Any unexplained change to the testicles could be an indicator of testicular cancer, and you might be surprised to learn that this particular cancer occurs most often in young men aged between 20 and 39. Testicular cancer can also occur very quickly so detecting it early is crucial. Visit your GP immediately if you notice any lumps, swelling or even shrinkage which can all be a sign that something is wrong.
A fever that’s related to a ‘bug’ should clear up pretty quickly, along with other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhoea. However, an unexplained fever or one that doesn’t go away could be a sign of a serious illness such as pneumonia, infection or even cancer . A fever is typical when a cancer spreads from one part of the body to another, or as a side effect of blood cancer.
Weight loss due to swapping to a healthier diet and exercise regime is nothing to worry about, but losing weight without even trying is a symptom that few men take to the doctors, especially as it can sometimes be seen as a good thing. However, if you lose over ten per cent of your body weight over a period of 12–24 weeks and have made no diet or lifestyle changes you should speak to your doctor as it may indicate something serious such as diabetes, cancer or AIDS.
Do you constantly feel tired? Many problems can cause fatigue, for instance simply not getting enough sleep at night, But if you feel there is no obvious explanation for feeling tired all the time, it’s time to see your doctor. Fatigue can be a sign of cancer in men and can happen both early on in some cancers, such as colon cancer, and during the advanced stages of others.
Many men who suffer from regular indigestion are put off speaking to their doctor about it because they think it’s a normal result of their diet and they don’t want to be accused of wasting their GP’s time. However, the truth is that persistent indigestion &en; or indigestion that seems to be getting worse – can be a sign that you are suffering from throat, stomach or oesophagus cancer so your GP will be glad that you have made an appointment to determine the cause.
If you constantly find yourself coughing for longer than a month it’s time to visit the doctor as this could be an indicator of cancer, chronic bronchitis or acid reflux. And if you are a smoker you are at an increased risk of lung and throat cancer which can cause coughing, so don’t wait to get this symptom checked out.
Last but by no means least, seeing blood anywhere where there should not be blood is a definite indicator that you need to make an appointment with your doctor. Blood in the stool for example is often put down to haemorrhoids, especially in older men, but it can be a sign of colon cancer. Coughing up blood or bleeding from the mouth can indicate mouth, stomach or lung cancer too.
Gentlemen, for all these issues and any others causing you concern MARCH TO YOUR DOCTOR TODAY!