Noticed an unusual symptom that you need to get checked out? A lot of men often experience health symptoms that they don’t communicate to their doctor, but sometimes even the smallest of symptoms can be an indication of something more serious. The earlier you talk to your doctor about it, the quicker it can be resolved, so don’t leave it too late! Here are some common men’s health symptoms you should never ignore.
Found a new mole, a suspicious lump or have unexplained pain that you’ve been experiencing for a while? Don’t let it spiral out of control. Men tend to visit the doctor less frequently than women, which means a number of men’s health symptoms can often go overlooked, leaving them a lot more susceptible to serious health conditions.
Whether you’re embarrassed about talking to your doctor, worried about what the condition could be, or think it’s nothing to worry about so you don’t want to bother your GP, if you have a symptom that’s causing you concern — no matter how small it is — you should always talk to your doctor to rule out the possibility of something more serious.
So to help you keep on top of your health, here are some of the most common men’s health symptoms to look out for that you should never ignore.
1. Frequent constipation
Constipation is extremely common among men and women. But if it’s chronic and you’re in constant pain, unable to pass bowel movements regularly, it could lead to other conditions such as rectal bleeding, haemorrhoids and diverticulitis — where pouches in the lining of the colon develop and become inflamed. In the first instance, increase your fibre intake, drink plenty of fluids, and try to exercise more frequently. But if the pain and discomfort persists, visit your doctor for further examination.
2. Shortness of breath
Chest pain is the most common sign of a heart attack, but shortness of breath can also be an early warning sign. Of course it’s normal to be a little wheezy after a workout or an overly exerting walk, but if you find it hard to catch your breath without much exertion, make an appointment with your doctor. It could be an early symptom of anaemia, heart disease, lung disease such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, or pulmonary hypertension.
If you suffer with any shortness of breath that causes you concern, visit your doctor for further tests.
3. Erectile dysfunction
1 in 5 men over 40 suffer with erectile dysfunction, and whilst a lot of the time it can be contributed to psychological stress or a relationship problem, it can also be a symptom of other heath problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or hypertension (high blood pressure).
ED symptoms can either can be physical or psychological, or a combination of both. ED is often caused as a result of stress, anxiety or depression. If this is the case, your doctor will talk to you about your general mental health and perhaps refer you to a counsellor. If your symptoms are more physical, your doctor will carry out a series of tests to rule out any other health conditions.
4. Changing moles
Melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australia, and affects more men than it does women, so it’s important to check your moles regularly for any early warning signs. It’s common to develop new moles or for moles to change as you get older, but if you notice any of the following changes, visit your doctor immediately:
- change in colour, shade or becomes blotchy
- your mole becomes larger in size
- a change in shape — increase in height or not be symmetrical
- becomes raised
- itching or bleeding
These changes can happen over weeks or months, so keep checking them yourself regularly, and book in for annual skin check ups.
5. Sudden weight loss
Stress, anxiety, or a traumatic life event such as divorce, bereavement or redundancy can all be attributed to sudden weight loss. But if you’ve lost a dramatic amount of weight unexpectedly, it could be a sign of an undiagnosed illness such as depression, an over- or under-active thyroid, or cancer. You could also be suffering from an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. It’s important to see your doctor to let them know if you’ve recently lost weight without trying.
6. Chronic itching
Whilst for the most part, itching skin can be treated as dry skin or dermatitis, chronic itching could be a sign of lymphoma, multiple myeloma, or even diabetes, so it’s important to to get this checked out by your doctor.
7. Lump in your testicles
Whilst you might panic at the thought of finding a lump in your testicle, most cases of testicular lumps aren’t serious or cancerous. Having said that, you should get any lumps or bumps checked out immediately. Testicular cancer is rare, but curable if it’s detected early. If you notice any lumps, swelling, or pain in your testicles, make an appointment with your GP straight away. You can also check for lumps yourself with regular self-examinations.
8. Pain or blood when urinating
The most common cause of pain or blood in your urine is usually a urinary tract infection (UTI), but it can also be then result of an infection in the bladder and kidneys, kidney stones, urethritis, and an enlarged prostate gland. For adults over 50, this could be a sign of cancer in the bladder, kidneys or prostate.
Feeling constantly tired, or lacking energy and motivation, is a normal response to circumstances such as stress, physical exertion, or lack of sleep. But fatigue can also be a symptom of a number of illnesses such as anaemia, depression, sleep disorders, or a malfunctioning thyroid gland, cancer, congestive heart failure, diabetes, arthritis, infections, and kidney or liver disease. If your energy levels don’t return after a few weeks of resting, visit your doctor for further advice.
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10. Memory loss
Memory changes often come with age — as we get older we become more forgetful. It’s a normal part of ageing. But if you experience any sudden memory loss, confusion or delirium, it could indicate a sign of another illness such as Alzheimer's disease, brain tumours, brain infections, brain damage, depression, encephalitis, UTIs, dehydration, thyroid problems, and stroke. Certain vitamin deficiencies, like Vitamin B-12 deficiency, can also bring on memory loss.
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11. Vision problems
Just like our memory, our vision naturally deteriorates as we get older. But if you experience any symptoms like blurry vision, blind spots, halos around lights, or tunnel vision, you could be suffering with a more serious eye condition such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, or macular degeneration.
These symptoms can also be attributed to migraines, a stroke, or a brain tumour. Make sure you get regular eye check-ups for early detection.
12. Severe chest pain
Sudden, crippling chest pain is often associated with a heart attack, but it could also be a sign of other health conditions including angina, pneumonia, a pulmonary embolism, or asthma. Or it could be a gastrointestinal health condition such as acid reflux or a stomach ulcer. All of these require a doctor’s examination.
If you do experience chest pain that’s heavy, lasts longer than 15 minutes, and spreads to other parts of your body, such as your arms, back or jaw, call 000 for an ambulance immediately.
13. Changes in nipples
Whilst breast cancer is relatively rare in men (around 150 men are diagnosed each year) it’s important to get into the habit of checking your nipples for any unexpected changes. In most men, breast cancer is first noticed as a painless lump under the nipple or areola, but other signs can include an inverted nipple, changes to the size or shape of the breast, a rash or bleeding from the nipple, a swelling or lump in the armpit or an ulcer on the skin of the breast. If you notice any of these changes, make an appointment with your doctor straight away.
14. Excessive brusing
People tend to bruise more easily the older they get, but it could also be a sign of blood clotting or liver disease. Bruising can also be a side effect of certain medications, or a lack of vitamin C. Make an appointment with your GP to rule out anything more serious.
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15. Persistent cough
Most coughs are simply a result of a virus like cold or flu, but it can also be a sign of heartburn, allergies, and infections such as bronchitis too. In very rare cases is can be an early sign of lung cancer. If a cough is persistent — it lasts for a period of eight weeks or longer — it’s worth visiting your doctor for an expert diagnosis. It could also be a sign of Covid, so you should get a Covid test to be on the safe side.
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Loved our advice on men's health symptoms? We've got plenty more helpful tips and expert health advice to check out on our Health & Wellness Edit. Can supplements really boost your immune system? Are you suffering from depression or could you have vitamin D deficiency?