Commonly Ignored Men’s Health Issues

 

1. Cardiovascular Disease

  • A general overview of the disease

Cardio means heart and vascular means relating to arteries, blood vessels, veins etc. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are a class of conditions involving and affecting the aforementioned. CVD generally include conditions that cause narrowed or blocked blood vessels that ultimately cause stroke or heart attacks. Cerebrovascular heart diseases, affecting the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain, congenital heart disease causing malformation of the structure of the heart since birth, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism causing blood clots in the leg veins are common CVD.

  • What are the symptoms

Symptoms causing heart diseases can manifest itself in any part of the body in various ways like sweating, inflammation, shortness of breath etc. Symptoms like discomfort in the chest for a few hours, severe pain in the neck, jaw, heartbeat that is slower or faster than usual, fainting, changes in vision, loss of coordination etc. are important signs that help recognize heart problems before it becomes a heart attack which is the obvious indicator of a heart disease.

  • Why are they generally ignored (ex. do people assume another condition)

Conditions of the heart are leading causes of deaths in the world. They are generally ignored because heart diseases may even occur with symptoms that do not involve the heart. Minor health problems like snoring, gum bleeding fatigue and dizziness may also be symptoms of heart problems. People fail to realize that these seemingly insignificant problems that are not related to the heart are actually heart problems that if detected early can reduce the severity of the condition by a great extent.

  • How are they diagnosed

Blood tests and chest x-rays are helpful in diagnosing heart conditions; however an Electrocardiogram (ECG) will be done for further investigation as it helps detect any irregularities in the heart. Echocardiography, stress test, catheterization are also tests performed to determine heart diseases.

  • What are the available treatments

Not all  forms of heart diseases can be cured; some can be treated and managed to reduce the symptoms and any further risk. Generally heart diseases are treated majorly with lifestyle changes and medications. Surgery is used only if the case is extremely severe and unavoidable.

  • How to prevent them

The first step towards preventing any kind of diseases is taking responsibility for one’s health by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying healthy. Smoking cigarettes and passive smoking is extremely harmful and causes not only heart diseases but also stroke and lung diseases. Obesity is another cause for conditions of the heart, therefore maintaining a healthy body weight and being physically active are important to preventing heart conditions. Cholesterol, hypertension and stress are also contributors of CVD. Eating healthy meals and keeping a regular check on one’s health is a must. Regular screenings and wellness checkups will help understand any changes.

2. Lung Cancer

  • A general overview of the disease

Lung cancer is actually slightly different in men than it is in women. Reports state that the life expectancy in men with lung cancer is lesser than in women. It is also considered the leading reasons for deaths caused by cancer in men. Lung cancer is the abnormal growth in the cells that line the air passages. These abnormal growths may be found in either one or both lungs and multiply to form tumors, causing interference in the lungs’ ability to provide oxygen to the body.

  • What are the symptoms

Lung cancer has rather unspecific symptoms. In fact, most people who suffer from lung cancer do not even have any symptoms until a long time. Such a condition is usually diagnosed in a chest x-ray during a checkup. However chronic cough, coughing blood, bronchitis and other infections caused by blocked airway are common symptoms of lung cancer. Initial symptoms also include hoarseness of voice and shortness of breath.

  • Why are they generally ignored (ex. do people assume another condition)

Lung cancer is most commonly ignored because the symptoms it manifests are very unlikely. Moreover the symptoms only start showing up at a later stage, although symptoms of lung cancer are much evident in men than in women.

  • How are they diagnosed

A series of diagnostic tests are required to diagnose  lung cancer. The doctor may require x-ray, CT scans and chest examinations. Tests are done to detect the location of the tumor.

  • What are the available treatments

The type of treatment depends on the kind/stage of lung cancer. Treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, medication and ultimately surgery.

  • How to prevent them

Lung cancer cannot be prevented but certain measures can be undertaken to reduce the chances of developing such a condition. Smoking is the leading causative factor for lung cancer. However lung cancer can also be caused in people who have never smoked in their life, although the chances are low. A smoker is 30 times more prone to developing the condition than a non-smoker. The duration of smoking also plays a crucial role in the same. Quitting smoking is extremely important to reduce the risk of developing cancer. Maintaining a healthy diet by eating the right food in the right amount will also help prevent not only lung cancer but various other conditions.

3. Prostate Cancer

  • A general overview of the disease

Prostate is a male reproductive gland located under the bladder. Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. Prostate cancer is when the cells in the gland begin to grow uncontrollably. It is mostly found in aged men and is a rather slow growing cancer; a lot of times older men don’t even realize that they had prostate cancer.

  • What are the symptoms

Symptoms of prostate cancer include frequent urination, inability to urinate, difficulty in starting or stopping urination, difficulty in urination, pain during urinating, blood in the urine or semen. If the cancer is in its advanced stages, a person may experience symptoms like fecal and urinary incontinence, pelvic pain etc.

  • Why are they generally ignored (ex. do people assume another condition)

Prostate cancer is not really ignored but it does go unnoticed because the condition is sometimes asymptomatic. Many men with prostate cancer do not have any symptoms at all, although when the cancer spreads to the bladder it may cause symptoms like painful urination, blood in urine and semen etc. Regular screening is advised to ensure that everything is working fine.

  • How are they diagnosed

On observing any obvious symptoms, a doctor may conduct a Digital Rectal Exam or a Prostate specific antigen test (PSA). These are the two prostate cancer screening tests. Any abnormalities in the diagnostic tests will call for further investigation like an ultrasound or a biopsy.

  • What are the available treatments

Prostate cancer is curable if diagnosed and treated in the early stages. Treatment of all forms of cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, how and where the cancer has spread and a person’s overall health. Immediate treatment may not be required for prostate cancer, however if the condition worsens, and depending on the overall health of a man, the doctor may suggest surgery.

  • How to prevent them

There is no way to prevent prostate cancer but effective steps can be taken to reduce an individual’s chance of developing the condition. Healthy dietary practice is a crucial step in preventing any disease. Getting yourself checked for stress, hypertension, cholesterol etc. will also help reduce the risk of developing the condition. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are also ways to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.

4. Infertility

  • A general overview of the disease

Infertility is a reproductive condition causing abnormal functioning of the male and female reproductive system, where a couple is unable to conceive a child till full term even after trying for a period of time. It is often assumed that infertility is related to women; however infertility is also a major health concern in men.

  • What are the symptoms

The most obvious symptom of infertility is not being able to conceive after at least 1 year of trying. This does not hold valid in all cases, there may be couples who get pregnant in their second year of trying and some others may need help. There are not many obvious symptoms of infertility in men, although irregular periods may be a sign in women. The period of trying also depends on the age of the couple. If you are over 35 years of age and trying to conceive, it is best to consult a Dr. after being unsuccessful in 6 months of trying.

  • Why are they generally ignored (ex. do people assume another condition)

In today’s time and age, couples generally delay pregnancy given the importance given to their respective careers. Infertility is not ignored but generally not spoken about because of the social stigma attached to it. Moreover sometimes people do not realize that they could be infertile. Event after a year of trying couples delay consulting a specialist. A couple, particularly women should be aware of their fertility, i.e. a woman needs to know when she is likely to ovulate.

However male infertility in specific is rather ignored because of the common belief that infertility is most likely to occur in women. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one-third of infertility cases are caused by male reproductive issues, one-third by female reproductive issues, and one-third by both male and female reproductive issues or by unknown factors.

  • How are they diagnosed

Couples seek medical help when they have been unable to conceive after trying for over a year or so. A specialist will conduct the necessary physical examination to understand the cause of infertility. A male is considered fertile when he is able to produce enough healthy sperm. There are specific tests to examine the reproductive organs. Semen analysis, physical examination, evaluation of testosterone etc. are performed to understand the cause of infertility.

  • What are the available treatments

Treatment options for infertility depend on its causes. Male infertility can be treated with surgery, medication and Assisted reproductive techniques like ICSI (Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) or IUI (Intrauterine insemination). Surgical treatment will include corrections needed for treating abnormalities, varicocele, blockage in the tube carrying sperm or damage to reproductive organs.

  • How to prevent them

Infertility cannot be prevented as it may be caused by genetic factors or any particular condition. However certain measures can be undertaken to avoid or rather reduce the possibility. Avoiding smoking, drinking and use of any kind of addictive illegal substances, maintaining a healthy body weight and restraining from anything that can cause excess heat to the genitals can help the reduce the chances of male infertility.

5. Diabetes

  • A general overview of the disease

Diabetes is a chronic condition that can cause harm to any part of the body. In this condition a person’s body is unable to maintain healthy levels of glucose, which is a sugar that represents the body’s main source of energy. The blood sugar levels of a diabetic will be extremely high because of the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin. There are two types of diabetes; Type 1 diabetes in which there is absolute insulin deficiency and these are patient who are insulin dependent. Type 2 diabetes is when the body produces insulin but the amount of insulin produced is insufficient.

  • What are the symptoms

Type 1 and type 2, can be asymptomatic (without any symptoms). These are incidentally detected when investigated for other unrelated problems. At times the complications of diabetes like neurological or nephrological conditions could be the reason for discovery of the condition.

  • Why are they generally ignored (ex. do people assume another condition)

A lot of times the condition may be ignored because it remains asymptomatic. It is extremely important to be aware of the health risks diabetes can cause. It may lead to serious consequences like loss of vision, amputation, heart and kidney conditions or even death. Diabetes denial is extremely harmful and men must keep note of unusual symptoms or changes in their body.

  • How are they diagnosed

A person on observing any of the aforementioned symptoms should get tested for diabetes. Diabetes is also genetic, so if a person is known to have a family history of diabetics, it is probable that he/she may also develop the condition. Obese people in particular have high chances of being diabetic. Blood glucose level test would help professionals understand.

  • What are the available treatments

Diabetes cannot be cured, but can be managed or prevented. Controlling blood glucose is the major task in diabetics. Treatment options depend on the type of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be managed with medications. Weight loss and change in dietary practices are also important aspects of treatment for both types.

  • How to prevent them

For someone who doesn’t have diabetes, it can be prevented by knowing their risks of developing the condition, managing their body weight, eating healthy and working out to stay healthy, quitting smoking and keeping a regular check on one’s blood pressure. Consulting a physician for regular checkups is also advisable just to keep constant track of one’s health.

 

Dr. Roshan Oommen,

General Practitioner

 Aster Clinic, DMMC

 

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