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Men’s Health Awareness Week: 5 Expert Tips With Lead GP, Dr Roger Brown

11th, Jun 2024

Dr Roger Brown, Lead Private GP at Kingsbridge North West shares his top tips on the following health areas of focus for men, and for others helping their male partners, fathers, brothers and friends, saying "There is never a bad time to get a health check-up!"

From Monday 10th - Sunday 16th June is Men’s Health Awareness Week, so we spoke to Dr Roger Brown, Lead Private GP at Kingsbridge North West, who has a special interest in men’s health, minor surgery and joint injections.

“In my experience, women are more likely to share concerns with friends, family or their doctor, but I have seen a change in men in the past 30 years and I am glad to see more coming for advice at an earlier stage for both simple and more serious medical problems,” says Dr Brown.

“But they are still not good at checking up on themselves with self-examination or coming for occasional medical checks - and this is an area where we can improve things. It is important to have an awareness of the investment required in our health. As I always say, if you invest in the ‘health bank’ the rewards are significant and lasting.”

​Mental Health

“Please don’t put off asking for help if you are suffering with your mental health. There are many self-help and clinically directed routes to recovery. You just need to ask. Men are not good about seeking help. It is often seen as weakness to admit to having a mental illness, but I would argue that it takes great, and often more, courage to ask for help than to soldier on while struggling.”

Heart Health

“A high level of heart disease from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and poor exercise is correctable. However, if you don’t have your blood pressure or your cholesterol checked, you won’t know if you are at risk. Northern Ireland has a bad history in this regard, and we would love our men not to become another bad statistic.

Men (and women, of course) should consider getting a check-up, especially if they are over 50."

“Weight reduction (if you are overweight), healthy food and regular exercise are the foundation stones for good heart health - but if you are a smoker, stopping smoking trumps them all.”

​Bladder/Prostate Health

“Any change in your bladder function needs to be investigated. For example, increased frequency of toilet visits, getting up through the night to urinate, burning discomfort when passing urine or passing any blood, difficulty in initiating or completing the urine flow or a very poor force of the urine stream. All are very important and could be a sign of something that needs treatment or further investigation”.

Testicular Health

“Having spoken to many men about checking their testicles, many come up with the following response: ‘I don’t know what I’m looking for, Doctor.’ And my response is always that if you are checking your testicles, you will know what is normal for you, and if you find that something has changed, particularly a painless swelling of one testicle compared to the other, this is something that you should take a doctor’s advice about. It may be nothing serious, but it could be an early sign of testicular cancer.”

​Should you have a concern about your waterworks, Dr Roger Brown runs a dedicated GP led Urology Clinic and offers a range of diagnostic tests and treatments.

Physical Health

“If something changes significantly without you changing anything in your life or routine, this is something that should be checked. For example, if you have noticed that your energy or weight have reduced for no reason, you have developed a persisting pain for no obvious reason, or you have noticed something different about you, like a new skin lesion, a change in the colour of your skin, or change in your bowel function, please ask for advice.”

Unfortunately, in our post-pandemic world, many people are struggling to get access to their GPs in NHS surgeries. Your GP has traditionally been the first port of call when seeking a health check-up. It appears that many patients have trouble even getting a telephone call with their GP, due to the busyness being experienced by GP surgeries. Many GP receptionists have been asked to only book emergency appointments, due to there being a lack thereof, and are therefore instructing patients to call back another day if it is not an emergency.

It is difficult to see how things might change in future. But there are some things that we can do for ourselves without even going to the GP. You do not need a GP to tell you to stop smoking if you are a smoker, or to reduce your drinking if you know that you take too much alcohol in a week. And you don’t need a GP to tell you to lose weight if it is clear that you need to. You can exercise more if you know that you sit around too much and do not get enough exercise. You can get a blood pressure check done at many pharmacies.

So all that a GP or practice nurse can do for you that is not easily and usually freely accessible is a cholesterol level from a blood test, an examination of the prostate if you are symptomatic and anything else that you have found to be a new abnormality, like an enlarged testicle or a suspicious skin lesion. Our health is our responsibility and not that of our GP.

If you would like a full male/female health check, this can be booked at Kingsbridge hospitals and clinics through the province or even in Sligo. This involves an extensive health screen including history, taking in detail, a physical examination, urine, blood and faeces tests and an ECG, all for less than you might think. If something turns up during this screening Kingsbridge GPs can then proactively refer you for the appropriate follow-up tests and referrals if required.

Dr Roger Brown features on the Kingsbridge Private Hospital Group Podcast, talking all things primary care, men’s health and when to seek a specialist, which is available on YouTube, Spotify and Apple. Simply search ‘HealthStyle’.

​To book an appointment with Dr Roger Brown, call Kingsbridge North West on 028 7776 3090 or email infonw@kingsbridgehealthcaregroup.com.

Visit kingsbridgeprivatehospital.com/north-west for further information.

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