Biological, social and behavioural factors have led to differences in the most common causes of health problems faced by men and women. Men die younger than women and bear a greater burden of disease throughout their lives. They get sick at a younger age and have illnesses that last longer than women. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and depression are the top male killers. However, men also face male-specific issues such as prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Heart disease comes in many forms. All its manifestations can lead to serious and fatal complications if they are not noticed. One in three adult men has some form of cardiovascular disease. Hypertension and stroke are also common in men under the age of 45. Lifestyle modification and routine medical checkups can help manage heart-related risks, as your doctor can calculate your risk for cardiovascular disease based on several risk factors, including cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking habits.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in men after heart disease. Skin, prostate, colon and lung cancers are among the most commonly diagnosed cancers in men. The combination of a healthy lifestyle and regular checkups ensures that disease stays at bay. Regularly applying sunscreen, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and reducing red meat consumption all help reduce the risk of cancer.
Diabetes usually sets in without showing any signs. It raises blood sugar levels and eventually passes into the urine. Increased urination and thirst are the first visible signs of diabetes. High glucose acts like a slow poison on blood vessels and nerves throughout the body. Heart attacks, strokes, blindness, kidney failure and amputations are the consequences for many men.
If left untreated, diabetes causes nerve and kidney damage, increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, causes vision problems and blindness. Men with diabetes are also at risk for lower testosterone levels and sexual impotence, which in turn can lead to increased depression or anxiety.
Mental health and depression
Depression in men can go unnoticed because the symptoms don't always match what they expect. Men sometimes experience depression as anger or irritability rather than sadness. They are also more likely to sweep these feelings under the rug.
It is often believed that depression affects women far more than men. In fact, it may be a tendency for men to hide feelings of depression, or to present them differently than women. When it comes to mental health issues like anxiety and depression, men are reluctant to seek help, which significantly increases the risk of suicidal behaviour. Given the stigma associated with mental health problems, especially among men, it is crucial to dispel misconceptions and make therapy more available to those in need.
The most common cause of erectile dysfunction is atherosclerosis, the same condition that causes stroke and heart attack. In fact, having ED usually indicates that blood vessels throughout the body are not in good condition. Erectile dysfunction is considered by doctors to be an early risk symptom of cardiovascular disease. Although erectile dysfunction is not a life-threatening condition, it does indicate a serious health problem.
Erectile dysfunction affects two thirds of men over the age of 70 and up to 39 percent of men under the age of 40. Men with erectile dysfunction are less happy and more likely to be depressed.
The bad news is that the average man pays less attention to his health than the average woman. The good news is that men can be healthy by taking control of their lifestyle. Whether it's eating better, quitting bad habits like smoking, or getting regular check-ups, here are some steps you can take to prevent common health problems in men of all ages. Whatever health issues you face, you can take control of your well-being by taking preventative and proactive measures today.
(Dr. Ravish I R, Lead Consultant- Urology, Aster RV Hospital)