When it comes to living longer, turns out that women are the stronger sex. On average, men die five years earlier than women and are 1.5 times more likely to die from heart disease, cancer and lung diseases.
So what can men do? Regular medical screenings and ongoing preventive care, such as an annual wellness exam, are two key ways men can take charge of their health. This is especially true if men (and women) experience certain symptoms that can be a sign of a serious, even life-threatening, medical problem. Here are the Top 10 Health Warning Signs that men need to pay attention to, and if concerned, see a healthcare provider immediately.
Any type of chest pain requires immediate medical attention. Chest pain is often a sign of heart disease. In the days or even weeks before a heart attack, more than half of the people who eventually have a heart attack experience intermittent chest pain as well as shortness of breath, nausea, abdominal and back pain, and a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart. Unfortunately, many patients—up to 80 percent—ignore these symptoms. Chest pain can also be a sign of lung disease, shingles and a number of intestinal disorders.
Shortness of Breath
In addition to a heart attack, persistent shortness of breath can be a sign of lung disease such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which affects as many as 24 million American adults. Other symptoms of COPD include a chronic cough, mucus production and wheezing. Bronchitis and emphysema are the two most common conditions that contribute to COPD. If you are having difficulty catching your breath, you may also need to be screened for lung cancer.
Blood in the Urine
Blood in your urine is a cause for concern. Bloody urine is a primary symptom of prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate. It could also be caused by either cancer, kidney stones or stones in your bladder. Kidney disease or injury can also cause bloody urine, as can inflammation or infection of the bladder, kidney or urethra.
Odd-Looking Moles and Other Skin Irregularities
Have you noticed a mole that is changing color, shape or size or has an irregular uneven border? These could be signs of skin cancer. Other signs include rough patches of skin or sores that won’t heal. Examine your skin on a regular basis for any changes and see your healthcare provider if you notice anything different. Men are more likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, after age 50. In fact, by age 65, men are twice as likely as women to have melanoma.
Being excessively tired all of the time can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. Excessive snoring is also a symptom. Sleep apnea can lead to a greater risk of high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, heart attack and stroke. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider about your symptoms. Treatment options include wearing a breathing device that provides continuous airway pressure or an oral device that changes the position of your jaw and tongue during sleeping.
Change in Bowel Habits
Problems with bowel movements can be a sign of colorectal cancer. Other symptoms can include bloody or narrow stools, unintended weight loss, persistent abdominal discomfort (cramps, gas or pain) and a feeling that your bowel does not empty completely. Chronic constipation can also be a sign as well as a feeling of weakness or fatigue. Talk to your healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms and discuss whether you need to schedule a colonoscopy.
Feeling Thirsty All the Time
Constant thirst is one symptom of diabetes, a condition in which your body cannot properly process the sugars (glucose) in food. When blood glucose levels become too high, kidneys need extra water to get rid of the extra sugar in your blood. Have your blood sugar checked if you think you might have diabetes. Excessive thirst can also be a sign of internal bleeding, infection or even organ failure.
Memory loss has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors and some infections. It can also be a sign of depression, addiction and a vitamin deficiency.
Dizziness occurs when there is not enough blood reaching the brain. It can result from a sudden drop in blood pressure or dehydration. Dizziness often accompanies health problems like the flu, allergies or high blood sugar. It also can indicate a serious health risk such as heart disease, stroke or shock.
Regular eye exams become more important as men grow older. Blind spots, blurry vision or tunnel vision can be signs of serious eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. Vision problems can also be related to stroke or the growth of a brain tumor.
Sources: Cedars-Sinai, American Academy of Dermatology Association
Heart Health is an appropriate topic at any time during the year, but especially in conjunction with American Heart Month each February. Therefore, it is important to raise awareness about the wide range of cardiac services available through your hospital and clinics, including such services as calcium scoring tests, cholesterol checks, cardiac catheterizations, cardiac rehab and more. Internal Medicine specialists, cardiologists and rehabilitation specialists are appropriate voices to promote this awareness. Effective marketing tools might include social media, digital media and print, in tandem with a strong call to action to learn more or to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist or primary care provider.
About Brentwood Communications, Inc.
Brentwood Communications specializes in healthcare marketing. Through our monthly AdBank subscription service, thousands of field-tested marketing materials — including content related to men’s health and wellness screenings — are available and can be easily customized to reflect your hospital or clinic’s existing brand.
Brentwood Communications also helps hospitals stay in touch with their communities through an informative and cost-effective digital and printed magazine called My Hometown Health, a powerful tool to help promote better health and raise awareness of key services available at the hospital. Country music legend Randy Travis is featured in our upcoming Winter 2023 issue, which focuses on heart health and stroke. Randy and his wife Mary Davis talk openly about Randy’s recovery from a near-fatal stroke and the power of perseverance and hope.