MAN ALIVE Time for a health MOT? The 10 head-to-toe checks that could save your life

 IT is vital to keep tabs on your health, to help you live a long life, free from illness and disease.

Research by Men’s Health Forum has previously shown that men between the ages of 18 and 44 are less likely to see a doctor than women.

Experts have revealed 10 health checks every man should be doing
Experts have revealed 10 health checks every man should be doing

Whether it’s because of a lack of time, ignoring problems or simply feeling too embarrassed, avoiding the doctor’s surgery could mean that any potential health issues just get worse. 

So, simple health checks that can be done at home are a useful way to stay on top of your health. 

Dr Samantha Wild, GP at Bupa Health Clinics shares her simple at-home health checks to do this week.

1. Check your semen 

Semen can offer a good insight into your health. Dr Wild says that it’s the colour of semen which is the indicator. She says: “Usually, semen is a white-grey colour. 

“If it changes from this, it might be a sign of an underlying health condition. 

“Red in your semen may look alarming but it’s usually quite harmless and may be a sign of inflammation in your prostate or semen glands. 

“Yellow-green semen can have several causes, from medication, infection to jaundice.”She says that a health professional can look at your semen under a microscope to check your sperm count, movement, shape, and volume. “Speak to a health professional if you spot a new persistent colour change, or new symptoms like pain, strong odour, itching or pain when passing urine,” adds Dr Wild. 

2. Check your testicles 

According to Cancer Research UK, there are around 2,400 new testicular cancer cases in the UK every year, which amounts to more than six every day. 

The survival rate is high, but as with any cancer type, it’s important to catch it early. 

Dr Wild explains that when checking your testicles, you’re looking for any lumps.

She says: “After a warm bath or shower, stand in front of a mirror and hold your testicles in your palm. 

“Roll each of them between your finger and thumb to gently feel their surfaces.”

You’re also looking for swelling, hardness or a noticeable size differences between the two testicles.

Make sure to note any changes in size from the last time you checked them. 

Dr Wild says: “Checking them may highlight pain and aches. Always speak to a health professional if you find any of these symptoms.”

3. Check your blood pressure 

If your blood pressure is high, it can lead to problems including strokes and heart attacks. 

You can check your blood pressure at home using an automated digital device. Dr Wild says that information on trusted devices is available from the British and Irish Hypertension Society. 

You can also ask your GP and pharmacist.

She says: “You should aim to check your blood pressure at least every five years to see whether your numbers have changed. 

“Use your device morning and evening, after resting for five minutes. 

“Take a few readings, a minute or two apart. If the first reading is much higher than your next, ignore the first and take an extra reading. This helps you to work out an average.”

Be sure to keep still and quiet as you’re taking your reading. 

“Talking, moving, laughing, crossing your legs, and even chewing can all affect your reading.”

A normal blood pressure sits between 90/60 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and 120/80mmHg, with a high blood pressure reading at home considered to be 135/85 or higher. Low blood pressure, which can be accompanied by fainting and dizziness, is considered to be 89/59mmHg or lower.

4. Check your heart

Checking your pulse is an easy at-home way to identify your resting heart rate, according to Dr Wild, as well as any irregularities in your heart’s rhythm. 

She says: “You may wear a smartwatch that can indicate your pulse, but you can also do it manually.”

To do this, hold out one hand with your palm up. Use the index and middle finger of your other hand to gently press on your wrist, under your thumb, until you feel your pulse. 

Dr Wild says: “Lightly press down for around 30 seconds to count the number of beats you feel over six seconds, then multiply this by 10 to get your beats per minute (bpm). 

“Your heart rate is likely to be somewhere between 60 and 100 bpm; it might be lower if you do lots of exercise or take medications, like beta blockers.

“If you feel any irregularities, like a missed beat, check your pulse for a full 60 seconds to see how often this happens, and book an appointment with a health professional to get their thoughts – it’s usually nothing to worry about, but it’s always best to get it checked.”

Regular heart checkups are important once you reach the age of 45, to help check your risk of heart disease, and to see if there are any practical lifestyle changes you can make to improve your heart health. 

5. Check down the loo

Bleeding from your bottom or spotting blood in your poo may be a sign of piles, which are lumps inside or around your anus.

Dr Wild says it could also be a sign of bowel cancer.

“Blood in your poo may look bright or dark red on the surface, or black, like tar,” she adds. 

“Pay attention to how often you need the toilet, too,” says Dr Wild, who explains the symptoms of bowel cancer.

“If you need to poo more often, or it becomes more difficult to poo, speak to a health professional. 

“Looser stools (diarrhoea), needing to go more urgently or feeling like you haven’t finished, even if you’ve just been, can all be signs of bowel cancer.”

Pain or discomfort in your abdomen or back passage that doesn’t go away when you poo, should also be flagged with your GP.

As well as any changes to your bowel habits and poo, it’s a good idea to acknowledge your peeing habits too.

Dr Wild says: “If you need to pee more than usual, the flow is weaker, or you continue to leak a little bit after stopping peeing, it could be a sign of an enlarged prostate. 

“These symptoms are usually harmless and treatable, but they can also be a sign of prostate cancer. Speak to a health professional to get checked.”

6. Check your cholesterol 

Too much cholesterol, a fatty substance in your blood, can lead to serious problems including heart disease.

The best way to check your cholesterol levels is by visiting your pharmacist or GP. 

You can also check your cholesterol at home. There are a number of tests available online including Bupa’s Be.Healthy at Home test, which includes a kit to take a blood sample.

Dr Wild says: “This is sent back to us to analyse and identify your cholesterol levels, diabetes risk and more. 

“Be.Healthy at Home also includes time with one of our health advisers or GPs to run through your results and to discuss any concerns you might have.”

If you're over 40, you may have a cholesterol health test during your NHS Health Check - which can also be done at a pharmacy. 

The test can be done by pricking your finger for a drop of blood. This is put onto a strif of paper and looked at in a machine over just a few minutes.

7. Check your nails 

You might not think that your nails can give too much away regarding your health, however, Dr Wild says that changes in the appearance of your nails can highlight an underlying health condition. 

She says: “If you haven’t injured your nail and notice colour changes, dents, ridges or them becoming brittle, speak to a health professional.

“White spots can also indicate a health condition if you experience other symptoms alongside nail changes, like feeling weak, tired, breathless or have blurred vision.”

Nail clubbing - where the ends of your fingers become swollen and straighten out your nail bed - “might highlight an underlying health condition, relating to your heart or lungs”, says Dr Wild.

The Schamroth window test is a quick way to help check whether your fingers are clubbing. 

Dr Wild explains: “Put your hands up in front of you and touch your index fingers. 

“Can you see a small diamond-shaped gap beneath the two nail beds?

“If you can, that means your fingers aren’t clubbing. 

“If you can’t see a gap, visit a health professional to check if this is caused by an underlying condition, like cardiovascular disease or lung cancer.”

8. Check your hair 

Research has found that male pattern baldness affects around 85 per cent of men by the age of 50. 

Thinning or receding hair could be a sign of this, however, it’s not the only cause of hair loss.

Dr Wild says: “Iron deficiency, excessive hair washing, smoking and alcohol can also cause hair loss. 

“Speak to a health professional for their opinion as they may do a blood test to investigate what’s causing your hair loss.”

9. Check your BMI

Your body mass index (BMI) is a simple way to check whether you’re a healthy weight. 

Dr Wild says: “Weigh yourself in kilograms, and measure your height in metres. Times your height by itself, to find out your height in metres squared.

“Next, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared to get your BMI.”

You can also use online calculators that do the maths for you, such as that on the NHS.

Dr Wild says: “A ‘healthy’ BMI sits between 18.5 and 24.9, whilst an ‘obese’ BMI sits between 30 and 39.9. 

“A BMI in the obese range can be associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, various cancers, fatty liver disease and other illnesses. 

10. Check for lumps and bumps

It’s important to look out for any changes to your body’s appearance, according to Dr Wild, who says: “Rashes, bumps and blisters near your genitals could be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI), or skin condition.“Moles that change in size or shape, or new ones forming could be a sign of skin cancer.”

Dr Wild also adds that although it’s rare, it’s not impossible for men to develop breast cancer - some 400 cases are diagnosed each year.

What are the most common cancers in British men?

The most common cancers in men in 2016 to 2018 were:

  • Prostate (52,254 cases)
  • Lung (25,284 cases)
  • Bowel (23,878 cases)
  • Head and neck (8,562 cases)
  • Kidney (8,407 cases)
  • Melanoma (8,384 cases)
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (7,846 cases)
  • Bladder (7,471 cases)

Source: Cancer Research UK

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.