Men's Health Week 2023
14th, Jun 2023
This week marks Men's Health Week, which is a good opportunity to offer a gentle reminder to men of all ages that they need to pay more attention to their health and wellbeing. So, we spoke to Kingsbridge North Wests’ lead GP, Dr Roger Brown who is keen to promote a more proactive approach to men’s health.
Dr Brown finds that there is more knowledge and awareness among men than there used to be. Traditionally, men are not as likely to speak about or seek help for health issues which may arise, preferring to battle on and hope for the best. Over the past 30 years of Dr Brown’s career, he has seen more men coming for advice at an earlier stage for both simple and serious medical problems.
“It is never too late to start taking good care of ourselves. Eating well, sleeping adequately, exercising regularly, adopting good habits, and avoiding bad ones. It all seems so simple, and generally it is - we are not machines, and we need to look after this amazing body that most of us, who are lucky, have been born into. You only get one body, and it requires some care and attention if it is to achieve its full potential and lifespan.”
Throughout Dr Brown’s career he has dealt with countless medical issues and says that men’s health remains a priority. Dr Brown advises that men need to be aware of their bodies and seek advice as soon as they notice something untoward.
“Men have a few specific issues that are unique to them. Firstly, there are three specifically male organs which can go wrong at any stage in an adult male. The first is the testicles and we encourage men to check theirs regularly and report any changes in size or shape - even if there is no pain or discomfort - and any lumps that they might find. A simple examination can often diagnose or exclude something sinister."
“Secondly, with regard to the penis - if they have any foreskin or erectile problems these can be very embarrassing things to admit to, but are equally valid, if maybe not so life-threatening."
“And thirdly, the prostate. If there are any issues with the flow of urine, it may indicate bladder or prostate problems. So, if you are up at night going to the loo, have any difficulty starting to pass urine, or finishing up, and if you have any pain or discomfort in passing urine or there is any blood in the urine or semen, these things should be looked into as they are not normal, but in a lot of cases, they can be remedied easily.”
Heart health in Northern Ireland has statistically been very poor for Northern Irish males compared to the rest of the world.
“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. And, if there is a family history of heart disease (which you can’t do anything about) it is even more important to get checked."
“If things have progressed and you have occasional chest pain or tightness, this needs more urgent attention - and if chest pain is persisting and doesn’t go away, please seek urgent medical attention by calling 999."
Dr Brown also comments that Irish (Celtic) men are at a higher risk of certain types of skin cancer and advises that if you have a “new skin lesion that looks a bit different to other freckles or moles, please ask a doctor to check it out.”
In addition to being vigilant about physical health, Dr Brown says it is just as important to promote good mental health and try to minimise stress.
“Chronic stress is a modern condition which leads to poor quality of life and poor mental health,” he says. “This is something which also needs attention and sometimes medical help."
“Thankfully there is now more awareness of the importance of good mental health - it is being talked about, and men are getting better at talking about it too. And in recent years employers have also been made more aware of their responsibility for their employee’s mental health - so this is an area where we seem to be making some progress - so don’t suffer in silence."
For further information on our GP services, please click here.
Source: Belfast Telegraph