Dr Bert Stewart
As Men’s Health Week draws to a close, GP Bert Stewart advises males to check up on their health regularly and not just this week.
Men seem to have a tough time of it when it comes to their health. If they feel unwell, the frequent response among women seems to be: “Oh, he’s just got Man flu” or “He ought to Man-up”, followed by smirks and an upward rolling of the eyes.
On the other hand, men often appear reluctant to visit their GP when it comes to something that’s bothering them health-wise. Maybe it’s because of the ‘Man-up’ jibe or because some check-ups are invasive and, well, downright embarrassing.
No man relishes the thought of staring a GP in the eye while he or, even worse, she is holding on to their private parts or having to bend over for that most intimate of examinations. I certainly don’t, but I will leave my dignity at the door and do it for the sake of my health.
These examinations, however, if carried out in the earliest stages can – and do – save lives, which is a very small price to pay for a moment of indignity.
These two types of examinations – to detect testicular cancer and early signs of prostate cancer – are the ones that appear to be the most off-putting for men and are often subject to the most ridicule among friends and colleagues.
But they are not the only examinations that are important to your health. Even the most basic of check-ups, such as an annual blood pressure check or urine test, can reduce the effects of more serious conditions later in life, as can discussions about weight loss or gain, smoking and alcohol consumption.
It’s also important to mention any strange lumps, bumps and swellings that do not go away after a few weeks. It may be nothing – or it could be something. Either way, early investigation and treatment are key.
Men’s mental health is another area that is often ignored as issues such as depression and anxiety are still viewed by ‘red-blooded’ males as a sign of weakness.
There is nothing weak about talking to your nearest and dearest or even a healthcare professional about your feelings and how they are affecting your home or work life.
No GP will think you are time-wasting if you have concerns, and you are the expert when it comes to knowing your own body and when things don’t feel right.
And don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion if you don’t feel your concerns have been properly addressed.
But it’s not just GP appointments that should be included in a health MOT. If your eyesight changes, don’t head for the off-the-rack glasses available in supermarkets, garages and other retail outlets.
Make an appointment with an optician. A full optician’s examination can detect early signs of glaucoma, diabetes, blood pressure or more serious conditions.
It’s the same with dental check-ups. Dentists are not simply on the lookout for decayed teeth. They can also detect early signs of mouth and throat cancers, as well as a range of other diseases.
As Men’s Health Week draws to a close, I urge fellow males to seek advice from a healthcare professional whenever you have worries.
It could make all the difference between having a simple procedure or more invasive treatment.
Look after yourself and enjoy good health.
What puts you off, as a man, approaching a healthcare professional about your health concerns?
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