Most men would rather tough it out than make an appointment at the doctors, however early detection can assist in treatment of many medical conditions. Here are five symptoms that can signal an underlying illness and deserve a trip to your doctor.
1. Chest pain
Chest pain can be scary as your first thought is often 'heart attack'. While this isn’t always the case, it's important to have any chest pain checked out by a doctor straight away, just in case. There are a number of important conditions to be considered such as:
- a blood clot
- a lung condition such as pneumonia
- heart problems
- a digestive problem such as acid reflux or a stomach ulcer.
All of these conditions need a doctor's attention.
Read more about chest pain
2. A big belly
When a guy's waistline is bigger than his hips it’s often jokingly referred to as his ‘beer gut’. However, carrying extra weight around your middle isn't always a laughing matter:
- It's often a sign of obesity and may mean some lifestyle changes are needed.
- Visceral fat (the stuff that hugs the gut) can increase the risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease.
- A stomach can also become larger due to fluid, not fat, from illnesses such as liver disease.
Seek advice if you are concerned about fat around your waistline (calculate your body mass index – a common measure of healthy weight range) or would like some help with losing weight.
3. Erectile dysfunction
Not being able to ‘get it up’ can be embarrassing. However, a bruised ego isn't the only problem a guy has to face if he's having trouble getting or keeping erections. About 70% of cases of erectile dysfunction are caused by another underlying condition such as:
- cardiovascular disease
- high cholesterol
- kidney disease
- chronic alcoholism
- multiple sclerosis
- vascular disease
- neurologic disease.
If you’re struggling with erectile dysfunction, see your doctor as it may have a medical cause.
While being ‘blocked up’ could be a heads up that you need to change your diet to include more high-fibre and plenty of fluids, it could also be a warning sign of bowel disease.
- Any change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhoea) that last two or more weeks should be checked out by a GP. Both can signal colorectal cancer, which is the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in men.
- Other symptoms to watch for include: bloody or narrow stools, unexplained weight loss or fatigue, cramping and bloating.
Colorectal cancer can be present for several years before symptoms develop, so it’s important to see a doctor if you have any of the above symptoms.
Read more about constipation
5. Frequent urination
If you develop a ‘budget bladder’ and are constantly plagued with the need to pee, you should see your doctor.
- Frequent urination may represent a problem in your prostate or a urinary infection.
- Or, it may be because you’re drinking lots because you’re constantly thirsty. Extreme thirst is one of the first signs of diabetes. It can also be caused by infection or failure of the kidneys, liver and heart.
Read more about bladder control problems in men
Don't leave your health up to chance. If you have any of the above symptoms, or if it has been 12 months since your last health check, book yourself an appointment with your doctor.