Symptoms that affect quality of life may go unnoticed. If we talk about men as social subjects who, through stereotypes, are conceived as strong people who "endure everything", another obstacle is added: signs that could help prevent diseases, or to treat or detect them in time, are silenced, even in the consultation with the doctor.
This was stated in a dialogue with Latin American media in which Clarín Vikas Mehta, a graduate in Medicine and Surgery, a doctor at Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London, participated.
Physical activity also helps to clear the mind. Photo Shutterstock.
"Men generally don't feel comfortable telling other people about symptoms that affect their lives," says the doctor, a member of the Royal College of GPs and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' School of Sexual and Reproductive Health. "Often, these conditions are treatable," he adds.
"Diabetes is not taken as it should, as well as cardiovascular problems, blood pressure or issues related to the heart. All tend to be ignored by men, more often than women," he says.
Why men live less
Mehta stressed the importance of talking about men's health: according to the Movember site, a very popular movement in the United States and Europe that promotes that in the month of November they grow the mustache to raise awareness about the need to take care of their health, men will die, on average, four and a half years before women.
"The most worrying thing is that most of these deaths are going to be due to a preventable cause," laments the professional.
And one of the great obstacles is precisely in the aforementioned conception of the man that weighs when talking – and consulting, for example regarding his mental health.
"If we talk about mental health, a man dies every minute of every day by suicide throughout the world, and in fact, men represent 69% of suicides," he warns with concern.
Ear disorders increased with work at home. Photo Shutterstock.
"The good news is that there are a lot of people committed to health, and getting at least one person to call their doctor, do something for their health, do a testicle self-exam or talk to someone about their mental health, that is, if we are able to help at least one person; It is time very well spent. It is said that by saving a man, humanity is saved," he hopes.
For these reasons, in this talk, the doctor gave an account of the main areas to which men should pay special attention, since they are those in which problems occur most frequently.
1- Cardiovascular health
"Cardiovascular problems do not usually give symptoms, and most men do not know they have a problem until they have a heart attack," warns the doctor, and notes that these types of problems do not usually have the proper diffusion.
"Many men die from heart disease or weakness caused by cardiovascular problems, from a heart attack or myocardial infarction and they don't realize it until the day it happens," he says.
Vikas Mehta holds a degree in Medicine and Surgery and works at Mayo Clinic Healthcare in London.
When to get tested: In order to detect heart disease, if there is a family history, we encourage them to do studies even from the age of 45, he says.
2- Respiratory problems
Mehta recommends, "If you find that you become fatigued or breathless when exercising or even walking, or if you have a chronic cough, it's time to get yourself checked. Even if you wake up in the morning with a cough, it shouldn't happen every day." Respiratory conditions such as adult-onset asthma and COVID-related problems are among the possibilities.
Cardiovascular problems do not usually cause symptoms. Photo Shutterstock.
In turn, snoring or stopping breathing at some point during the night can be a sign of sleep apnea and other breathing problems. "A lack of quality sleep is associated with several serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, an increased appetite that can lead to diabetes and weight gain, anxiety and depression," he says.
"It's common for men's partners to kick them out of the bedroom for their snoring, but the person who suffers the most is the one with sleep apnea and doesn't get quality sleep at night," she says.
3- Urological symptoms and sexual health
The need to urinate can often be a sign of prostate or bladder problems, or diabetes. Difficult or painful urination should also be controlled.
"Prostate cancer has received a lot of publicity lately, and that's good news, because that's why men are more aware of prostate issues, so they're more likely to access health care," Mehta says.
However, he admits that globally there are issues that affect men on a daily basis, such as difficulties urinating, or on the contrary getting up too many times a night to do so, as well as issues of high blood pressure, diabetes; all of them neglected because the symptoms do not appear to be specific.
Mental health is one of the areas most neglected by men. Photo Shutterstock.
When to get tested: The professional warns that if there is a history, diabetes can affect any age, but recommends taking the age of 40 as a time when it would be advisable to perform a general examination to look for these conditions.
He also referred to erectile dysfunction, that is, the difficulty in having or maintaining an erection, which he indicated can be treated and may even be a good opportunity to have cardiac screenings. "If there are problems with blood vessels in one part of the body, it's very possible that there are problems elsewhere," he warns.
On the other hand, he advised having a testicular exam to rule out lumps, especially for those men who never had one. "Sometimes, in screening we discover that no one else has looked at the sexual organs of some men besides their partners, so we find many problems or abnormalities," he says, and proposes as an ideal age, to do it especially between 15 and 35.
4- Mental health
Mental health is pointed out by the doctor as one of the areas to which men should pay much more attention and points out that there are high-stress professions, such as banking and law. "It's very important to know where and when to seek help."
In this sense, he reiterates that prejudices must be demolished regarding the fact that man does not talk about emotions, especially in view of the aforementioned statistics of dirt. The doctor cited a study indicating that men are less able than women tocope with stress.
5- Musculoskeletal Health
Mehta urges people to ask themselves the question, "Does it take longer for you to recover from injuries?" to which he replies, "A decline in exercise ability is often linked to musculoskeletal problems such as muscle wasting and inflammatory problems."
Screening for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid diseases such as gout, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis may be warranted, especially if there is a family history. It is diagnosed with a visit to the doctor, but pain in the fingers or joints can be a warning sign to get help early.
People with musculoskeletal problems are limited when it comes to exercising. Photo Shutterstock.
"Arthritis and osteoarthritis are not preventable but they can be treated, in osteoarthritis the joints are affected as they wear out in the knee or hips, so you have to control the weight, that is very important. If diagnosed early, it can prevent it from getting worse, although there comes a point where they may need joint replacement," he says.
6- Health of the ear, nose and throat
Tinnitus i.e. ringing and other sounds in the ear, or having better hearing in one of the ears and experiencing ear pain; These conditions are becoming more common because people are working from home and wearing headphones, especially after the pandemic.
Meanwhile, men with chronic sore throats, especially smokers, or those with white lesions in their mouths should be monitored for throat cancer. "It's very important to seek help quickly if you experience any of this," Mehta said.
On the other hand, those who suffer from unexplained chronic congestion should be screened for nasal polyps. In some cases, the feeling of breathing harder through one nostril than the other can be a symptom.
A feeling of having to constantly clear your throat or having something stuck in your throat can be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease, he says.
How to take care of yourself
In addition to being aware of the most common symptoms and the age at which certain tests are performed, the doctor offers other advice.
"As a society we have a lot of tools, an example is to use calendar markers, for example in the United Kingdom the month of November ("november", in English) is called Movember, men grow a mustache to draw attention to prostate cancer, April is known as testicular cancer month, May is bladder month, etcetera".
"So, if we could mark all this on a calendar, it would help us that men can think about their health, that would be a good first step to get around the difficulty of us thinking that men are very strong and that we do not need any help," he closes.
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