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Common health problems for men

30 May, 2017
Common men's health problems

Men’s health issues are more varied than people may think. However, there are certain diseases that are more common than others. Here are some of the most common men’s health issues, and what you can do to help avoid them.

Australian male health is in need of attention. Why? Because the health status of males in most countries, including Australia, is generally poorer than that of females
.

Generally, more males die at the hands of life’s most common diseases, more men experience accidents, more men take their own life and more men suffer from lifestyle-related health conditions than women. Yet men are less frequent visitors to general practitioners and are far less likely to take action when “not feeling themselves”. The reality is that many of the diseases that commonly affect men are preventable and treatable – you just have to be proactive in caring for yourself.

Heart Disease

Man’s worst enemy is heart disease, otherwise known as cardiovascular disease (CVD). Heart disease and stroke are the first and second leading causes of death worldwide, in both men and women. It’s a huge public health problem, however it can be prevented.

Cardiovascular disease affects one in six Australians and kills one Australian every 12 minutes. Coronary heart disease affects around 1.4 million Australians and is the single leading cause of death in this country.

Certain risk factors make a man’s likelihood of developing heart disease significantly higher. These factors can also increase the chance that an existing disease will get worse and include:

 

  • High blood pressure;
  • High blood cholesterol;
  • Pre-diabetes and diabetes;
  • Smoking;
  • Being overweight or obese;
  • Being physically inactive;
  • Having a family history of heart disease;
  • Unhealthy diet;
  • Stress; and
  • Age.

Some risk factors, such as age and family history can’t be changed, but others can be altered with a few simple lifestyle changes. No matter what your age, making smart choices now will pay off later in life. Smart choices include:

  • Choosing a healthy eating plan that includes lots of fruits and vegetables;
  • Staying physically active;
  • Quitting or not smoking;
  • Establishing a healthy relationship with your GP to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, blood sugar and body mass index;
  • Knowing your family history;
  • Learning stress-management techniques;
  • Watching your weight;
  • Limiting alcohol.

It’s also important to learn the warning signs of poor cardiovascular health, such as:

  • Difficulty catching breath/shortness of breath;
  • A sense of discomfort in the chest that lasts for more than 30 minutes;
  • Unexplained pain in your upper torso, neck or jaw;
  • A heartbeat that’s faster or slower than normal or irregular;
  • Dizziness or fainting;
  • Swelling, tingling, numbness, coldness and weakness;
  • Extreme fatigue;
  • Confusion, difficulty speaking or trouble comprehending what is said;
  • Imbalance or loss of coordination;
  • Changes in vision; and
  • Intense headaches.

All CBHS members who hold hospital cover or a packaged product are eligible to participate in a health coaching program for managing their health including heart disease. To find out more, email wellness@cbhs.com.au.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men other than skin cancer. Prostate cancer is generally a slow developing disease, and majority of men with low grade prostate cancer can live for many years without experiencing symptoms and without it spreading or becoming potentially fatal. However, high grade prostate cancer generally spreads quickly and can be fatal.

In the early stages of prostate cancer, there may be no symptoms. In the later stages, symptoms may include:

  • The frequent or sudden need to urinate;
  • Difficulty urinating;
  • Discomfort when urinating;
  • Traces of blood in urine or semen; or
  • Pain in the thighs, hips or lower back.
  • If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately.

    As with any disease, there are certain risk factors closely linked to an increased chance of developing prostate cancer. 

    These factors include:

    • Age;
    • Family history;
    • Genetics;
    • Diet; and
    • Lifestyle.

    While factors such as age, family history and genetics are out of your control, you can help lower your risk of developing prostate cancer by:

    • Choosing a low fat diet;
    • Adding omega-3s to your diet;
    • Maintaining a healthy weight and a body mass index (BMI);
    • Exercising regularly; and
    • Talking to your doctor about your risk.

     

    Depression

    Depression is more than just a bad mood. It’s a high risk factor for suicide, and in Australia, there are around 2,500 suicides every year. 75 percent are by men, with an average of six men taking their lives every single day. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 54, significantly exceeding the national road toll.

    In general, men tend to put off getting any kind of help, as an attempt to protect themselves from appearing weak. However, depression is a serious and common condition, and is one which requires help and support in recovery.

    If you’ve been experiencing any of these signs or symptoms for more than two weeks, it’s important you speak to someone:

    • Withdrawing from close family and friends;
    • Not getting things done at work/school;
    • Escaping your feelings through alcohol, drugs or gambling;
    • Retreating from your usually enjoyed activities;
    • Difficulty concentrating;
    • The continued feeling of sadness;
    • Feelings of extreme guilt;
    • Difficulty making decisions;
    • Thoughts such as, “I’m a failure” or “I’m worthless”;
    • Extreme fatigue; or
    • Loss or change in appetite, significant weight loss or gain.

    There’s no one proven way to help people recover from depression, with each case of depression being different to the next. There are, however, a range of effective treatments and health professionals that can help you on your road to recovery. There are also plenty of things you can do for yourself to recover and stay well, such as:

    • Get enough sleep;
    • Exercise regularly;
    • Get a sense of purpose by following a passion or starting a new hobby;
    • Consider preventative therapy, such as a therapist, support group or online counselling;
    • Limit “quick-fixes”, such as alcohol or gambling; or
    • Explore stress-relaxation techniques such as yoga.

    For a list of national help-lines and support websites, click here.

    All CBHS members who hold hospital cover or a packaged product have access to a support program focusing on mental health. To find out more, email wellness@cbhs.com.au.

    Diabetes 

    Diabetes is a disease in which your body cannot maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. When somebody has diabetes, sugar levels in the blood elevate and decrease, causing complications when not controlled.

    Diabetes can lead to a range of health problems; it can lead to issues with the nervous system, kidneys, skin and eyes, as well as raising the risk of cardiovascular disease. Diabetes can also lead to urological problems such as erectile dysfunction (ED) in men.

    Fortunately, many of these complications associated with diabetes are manageable if treated appropriately.

    Symptoms of early diabetes include:

    • Frequent urination;
    • Abnormal fatigue;
    • Blurred vision;
    • Unexplained weight loss;
    • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet;
    • Increased thirst; and
    • Sores that don’t heal.

    Medications, exercise and a proper diet can help you manage your blood sugar levels, but even though treatment has improved, controlling diabetes remains a challenge. Studies tell us that 90% of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented – or significantly delayed – simply through a healthier diet and plenty of physical activity. Therefore, its important men are aware of the risk factors of type 2 diabetes, which include:

    • Being overweight or obese;
    • Living a sedentary lifestyle;
    • A diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates;
    • A diet low in fibre and whole grains; and
    • A history of type 2 diabetes in your immediate family.

    The reality is that men might find an excuse not to see their doctor and consistently misperceive their level of risk when it comes to disease. Such misconceptions can allow serious ailments to go undetected and untreated.

    The diseases above are just four of the most common health problems affecting men, but in reality there are a lot more to be aware of. The good news is that with the right care and a bit of risk factor knowledge, you can help prevent and treat most of them. Remember that if you feel unwell or experience any unusual symptoms, don’t be afraid to seek medical advice.

    All CBHS members who hold hospital cover or a packaged product are eligible to participate in a health coaching program for managing their health including diabetes. To find out more, email wellness@cbhs.com.au.

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    Disclaimer

    All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies. For full terms, click here.

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