5 things you need to know about… Men’s Health

PUBLISHED: 15:31 12 June 2017 | UPDATED: 15:31 12 June 2017

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With Men’s Health Week running from 12-18 June here Dr Sue Rogers Weedon discusses some common issues

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1. Men visit the doctor less than women. This applies to health problems, and even more so with mental health concerns. Visiting a doctor with a physical symptom is easier for men than discussing mood dysfunction or emotional issues. However many ‘functional symptoms’ can suggest underlying stress or psychological factors and in combination can lead a doctor to recognise when a patient is suffering from anxiety or depression.

2. Be aware of ‘functional symptoms’. These can include the following: Pressure type headaches; neck spasm; pins and needles around the mouth; feeling of blocked ears/jaw ache/toothgrinding; feelings of detachment; awareness of the heart beat; tendency to regularly yawn or sigh; a perception of not being able to take in a deep breath; the development of irritable bowel, assuming other conditions have been excluded; sleep dysfunction; frequency of passing urine in the setting of negative urological investigations; never feeling refreshed on waking and light headedness which disappears whilst exercising. Recreational drug use, even social, can increase the likelihood of developing ‘functional symptoms’ or more serious mental health issues.

3. There are treatments that can help ‘functional symptoms’. Cognitive behavioural therapy is useful in the setting of anxiety and can be accessed on the NHS or privately. An increase in cardiovascular exercise such as cycling or swimming on a daily basis also tends to diminish symptoms.Yoga and Pilates are also helpful, but historically have been favoured by women. The use of antidepressants particularly those which boost serotonin such as citalopram, sertraline, fluoxetine etc. are often helpful in patients more severely affected. Physiotherapy has a part to play too, particularly if the practitioner has an interest in functional disorder/relaxation exercises.

4. A healthy weight is also key to good male health. But male obesity i.e. a body mass index over 30 is becoming increasingly prevalent, especially in 40 to 60-year-olds. Such male middle age spread increases the likelihood of the following: cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes; hypertension; obstructive sleep apnoea; osteoarthritis of the lumbar spine and lower limbs and a fatty liver. Men should aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity at least five times per week. A reduction in calorie intake, portion size and a healthy diet will help reduce obesity. Moderation in alcohol intake and a limit on binge drinking will aid weight loss as well.

5. The symptoms men should not ignore. Men should go to the doctor immediately if they have any of the following symptoms: testicular lump; twisting pain in the testicle; burning of the urine suggestive of a urinary infection; numbness in the genital area; sudden bladder or bowel incontinence; blood in the urine; inability to empty the bladder; blood mixed into the stool; changes in bowel habit; blood in sputum coughed up from the lungs; central chest pain brought on by exercise/walking up an incline or stairs; sudden onset central chest pain at rest of more than 20 minutes duration; breast lump; sudden pain in the leg associated with pallor (loss of normal skin colour in the foot); sudden pain in one side of the chest associated with breathlessness; sudden severe headache associated with neck stiffness and vomiting; a mouth ulcer which has persisted beyond three weeks; newly developed indigestion in men over 40 and unexplained weight loss although in the setting of negative investigations, it may be secondary to anxiety which leads then to the treatment of functional or mood related symptoms.

Dr Sue Rogers Weedon is a GP and Associate Specialist in Neurology. She has clinics at the Holly Private Hospital on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. To book a private consultation call the appointments team on 020 8936 1201

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