I once read that according to some theories, biologists say that the normal lifespan of a human being should be 120 years. But hat in most developed countries; average life expectancy is about 80 years for women and about 5 years less for men. So why do we die earlier than 120 years? The answer simple: many of us die of illness! This is a significant figure and should be a very important consideration for the male population, in particular, because the cold hard truth is that men are significantly more likely to die of diabetes, cancer, pneumonia, influenza, cardiovascular disease and many other complaints, than women.
Men are four times more likely to commit suicide, two times more likely to die in an accident, and so on. It’s obviously a risky business being a man! Despite playing the dying duck when they have a cold, the truth is that most men do not like to admit, even to themselves, that they have a health problem indeed men make 150 million fewer visits in a year to their doctors than women. And male patients are more likely to wait until a problem that could have been easily treated or prevented becomes severe or life threatening.
With the advent of programmes like Channel 4’s ‘Embarrassing bodies’ we’ve just about seen it all now, and although, like me, you might have wondered what induces the ‘star’ sufferers to bare all on TV when apparently they were too embarrassed to visit their own GP’s, this really is the bottom line, (quite literally, in some cases) - we are still, and this applies more to men than women, embarrassed to take our bits to the doctor.
One area that affects many men, as they get older is ‘problems with the waterworks.’ This may be nothing sinister but may be due to a serious prostate or bladder problem. So which is it? Well, you won’t know unless you go to the doctor! I can remember my mother telling me, when I was reluctant to go to the doctor, that the human body was like a machine to a doctor, moving parts that can and do go wrong. So, much like your car mechanic, the sight of your white bits, will be nothing your doctor hasn’t seen before. I am sure doctor’s have more empathy for us than your local mechanic has for your 4X4, but you get the point!
Another problem of our modern age is skin cancer. Unlike women who spend a long time looking in the mirror and applying lotions and potions to various parts of their bodies men may not even be aware of some of the moles they have. No one thinks that the worst will happen to them and it is easy to dismiss a spot or sore, thinking that it won’t be anything sinister. But it might be. If you are a man, the first thing to do is bare your manly physique to your partner, or even a friend so that they can see what you look like normally, especially on your back where you cannot see well. If anything changes, moles begin to bleed, darken or itch or get irregular borders, see the doctor. Even the worst type of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, if caught early enough can be excised and stopped from spreading.
An often often hidden problem is that of mental health. Possibly where all other taboos have been broken down, this remains the ‘elephant in the room’ for many of us. Ask people if it would be acceptable for employers to discriminate against someone on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation or disability and the answer is likely to be an outraged "of course not". But ask the same question about someone with a mental illness and the certainty seems to waiver.
So whether your problem is above or below the belt, if you are a man, we know that you may be reluctant to go to the doctor until you are nagged or frog marched there! It would be nice if we never got ill, but we do and how ill we become depends largely on how soon we seek help. Modern medicine has marvelous and evolving treatments that have taken years to develop, just to help us feel better and live longer!
The first step is to know your body and to recognise when something changes. We need to take account of our life style, do you smoke, overeat, do little exercise? While you are putting those things rght, gen up on the symptoms of some of the related diseases, you know what they say, knowledge is power, and often things are a lot less frightening when they actually have a name rather than being allowed to remain the stuff of nightmares conjured up by our fevered imagination.
We all like something for nothing don’t we? Well we have an excellent health service, and its’ free, it’s state of the art, and it could save your life, now all you have to do is use it!
Please note that all information and content on UK Health Radio and this blog are provided by the authors, producers and companies themselves and is only intended as additional information to your general knowledge and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. So please do not delay or disregard any medical advice received due to information gathered on UK Health Radio.
UK Health Radio – the health radio station for the United Kingdom, Europe and beyond at www.ukhealthradio.com – is kindly sponsored by www.1-stop-health-shop.com