Let's face it: men don't go to the doctor as often as women do.
There are lots of reasons for this. One is that women have babies
(and so require regular care), and men don't. Another, more insidious
reason is that men often deny that they are sick. By the time
a man finally does succumb to seeing a health-care provider, his
symptoms are much more pronounced. We'll take a look at three
specific health conditions: prostate disease, plus two largely
asymptomatic diseases, diabetes and high blood pressure, that
are easy to ignore but dangerous if left untreated.
First is the quintessential male concern, prostate disease. Most
older men actually have some degree of prostate cancer when they
die, yet more times than not, they don't have any symptoms. Most
men who discover their prostate cancer early have a much better
chance of long-term survival, regardless of how old they are at
diagnosis. One of the classic fears men have of physical exams
stem from prostate tests they must endure at the doctor's office.
Nobody would call them pleasant, but the dreaded rectal exam actually
lasts less than 30 seconds in most cases, and the blood test entails
removing only a small sample from the arm.
Symptoms of Prostate Disease
maintaining strong urine stream
rectal exam: should be performed annually after 40
(Prostate-Specific Antigen) blood test: should be performed
annually after 50
Ultrasound: necessary only if one of the above appears positive
stages may just require "watchful waiting" and perhaps medication
aggressive treatment includes surgery of the prostate, followed
by chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or both. Surgical removal
of the testicles may be required in extreme cases.
High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
Largely asymptomatic, high blood pressure, or hypertension, is
dangerous if left untreated. It can lead to numerous complications
such as, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and loss of vision.
Primary hypertension has no cure, but treatment can help prevent
its complications. The treatment, however, may require more discipline
than many men are willing to undertake.
unless complications have developed in target organs
Blood Pressure exam showing consistent 140/90 or higher readings
Tests showing abnormal electrolyte levels or kidney function
(ECG) to reveal abnormal heart function
modifications: weight reduction, salt and alcohol restriction,
and stress reduction
drug therapy: diuretics, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers,
and ACE inhibitors (all link to Multum) could be used. Some
of these medicines have side effects that should be considered.
Symptoms of adult-onset diabetes can begin as early as age 30,
and are often associated with obesity and family history. About
15 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, but only half have
been diagnosed. Most people are only made aware of their condition
when high levels of blood sugar are found during a routine doctor's
exam. Left untreated, diabetes may lead to heart disease, stroke,
kidney disease, vision loss, and vascular disease. If detected
early, diabetes may be controlled with a change in your diet,
losing some weight, or oral medication. But daily insulin shots
may eventually be necessary if none of the other treatments are
and frequent urination
tests revealing high blood sugar levels in the morning before
changes such as diet, weight loss, and exercise
injections (when all else fails)
There are many conditions where you'll benefit from early detection,
not just the ones detailed here. Develop the habit, if you haven't
already, of a yearly physical exam. Even if it seems like your
health plan is playing musical doctors, GO. Sometimes noting changes
in your body that have occurred over time are more important than
absolute measures. A normal blood pressure reading is about 120/80,
for example, but if yours has always run 100/60 a sudden increase
to 120/80 is worth attention.
In addition, listen to your body. That doesn't mean go running
for the doctor at every ache and pain, but when you notice a lasting
change, it's time for a visit. Common sense will tell you what's
normal and what isn't.
Symptoms that require attention
It's perfectly natural to expect changes as you age, but your
body was designed to endure for a long time. If you notice a lasting
change (more than a month or so) that is making you rearrange
your life, GO SEE A DOCTOR. Some common, and often treatable,
of breath, wheezing or chronic cough
in elimination-stopping or starting your stream of urine, loss
of bladder control, persistent diarrhea or constipation
in bodily functions-sleep, libido, appetite
in sensations, especially hearing or touch