Over 50’s men’s health

Good health is the key to enjoying the later years of life, and for men, once the age of 50 is reached it is perfectly possible to remain healthy for many years to come. However, there are some common problems that may occur during the 50s and beyond, and research shows that men tend to go a doctor about possible problems far less than women.

Keeping healthy is a mixture of being aware of warning signs from the body, and getting medical treatment for any conditions, and remaining as active and fit as possible. There are a number of health problems that can affect men over 50, and as well as understanding what the signs and symptoms of these are it’s important to remember that there is always help available when needed.

So what are the common problems? Here are several that ought to be considered.

Heart disease

Heart disease, often called cardiovascular disease, is a major cause of death in men. The term itself usually refers to a situation where blocked or narrowed blood vessels may bring on a heart attack, a stroke, or angina pains in the chest. There are other conditions that can affect the heart, for example problems that cause the heart’s rhythm to be altered or an infection that may have an impact on the heart’s valves or muscle.

Symptoms of a heart attack include discomfort or pain in the back, neck or jaw, feeling faint or light-headed, pain or discomfort affecting the shoulders or arms, and being short of breath. If any of these symptoms occur a doctor should be consulted at once.

Heart disease can be caused by a number of factors and can be addressed both through medication and changes to lifestyle. Men who have diabetes or high cholesterol levels may be at risk, and tobacco and alcohol use may contribute to the disease. Changing to a healthier lifestyle, including losing weight and becoming more active, may help prevent the onset of heart problems. Medications are also available to help combat high cholesterol levels.

Testicular cancer

This cancer in men affects the testicles and there are effective treatments for it if caught in time. Self-examination on a regular basis is an important feature, and if a lump or something else abnormal is found in the testicles a doctor should check it out as soon as possible. The majority of such lumps are not cancerous, but early diagnosis means the prognosis for recovery is considerably enhanced.

Deaths from testicular cancer are thankfully quite rare, and treatments include having the affected testicle surgically removed (this does not usually affect fertility or being able to have sex), and chemotherapy. Radiotherapy is also used in certain cases. The causes of testicular cancer are not known, though it is considered that if a boy has been born with undescended testicles or if there is a family history of this type of cancer, the chances of developing it may be increased.

Erectile dysfunction

More commonly known as impotence, erectile dysfunction is when a man has difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection. There are a number of reasons why this condition can happen and usually it can be treated.

There may be an underlying and more serious medical condition that will cause impotence, so a doctor will check for high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease when a patient presents the problem. In many cases a change in lifestyle can help remove the condition, so keeping active and losing weight are methods towards finding a solution.

If necessary a doctor may prescribe medication in the form of pills or tablets to help overcome the loss of erectile function

Prostate cancer

One of the commonest cancers in men, the first sign of a possible problem with the prostate gland is having difficulty in urinating. When the prostate becomes enlarged it may press down on the tube carrying urine for the bladder, making it difficult for urine to pass. It may be the first sign of disease of the prostate, and that could lead to cancer.

Apart from difficulty in passing urine, other symptoms include a burning sensation or pain when urine is passed, and a frequent need to urinate during the night, causing wakefulness and added stress.

The majority of prostate cancers develop in men aged over 50, and it generally progresses very slowly. For that reason a doctor may suggest that the condition is monitored, without specific treatment, especially if there are no symptoms showing. Treatments include surgically removing the prostate gland, hormone therapy and radiotherapy, and if caught early enough the cancer can be cured.

Depression

Many men feel uncomfortable talking about medical problems and especially a condition such as depression. It’s a very real illness and can have serious effects on individuals, families, friends and work colleagues. The feeling of overwhelming sadness and loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable can contribute to a downward spiral if left unchecked.

Doctors understand the negative effect depression has on people and should be the first point of contact if the symptoms occur. It can take some time to realize what the problem is and it is a type of illness that can come and go. Other symptoms can include a constant feeling of tiredness, having no sex drive or appetite, and sleeping poorly.

Possible causes include worries about finances, especially in relation to job security or debt, or problems at home or in the workplace. Being bullied or harassed at work can have a very detrimental effect on mental wellbeing. Treatments for depression include various types of medication combined with talking therapies and self-help.

Depression is quite a common illness but it is possible to recover from it. In addition to the treatments available a change in lifestyle, such as taking more exercise and eating healthily can help.

Medical help

Whatever the medical problem it’s important to see a doctor as soon as any symptoms occur. Where possible it’s also useful to have a regular medical check up so any potential problems are diagnosed and treated immediately.