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Friday, March 6, 2009

MEN, DON’T IGNORE THESE SYMPTOMS…


Male patients are notorious for failing to seek medical attention when they’re ill or feeling pain, and are much more likely than women to downplay their symptoms if they do finally seek care, doctors say. Guys are very prone to sticking their head in the sand and hoping when they emerge everything will be back to normal. It's a very, very bad idea. It’s an especially bad idea with the following five symptoms, for which men should seek immediate medical attention, physicians say.

1. CHEST PAIN – It could be indigestion or the body’s response to stress and anxiety, but it also could be an all-important warning sign of heart problems. The worst-case scenario is that it’s the symptom of a heart attack. "I tell my medical students that the most common symptoms of a heart attack is chest pain, and the second most common one is denial," Simon told CNN.com. If you’re experiencing chest pain or tightness, pain radiating from your chest down your left arm, or shortness of breath, seek immediate medical attention, doctors say.

2. AN EXPANDING MIDSECTION – Belly fat is the worst fat you can have," Harry Fisch, a professor of clinical urology at Columbia University, tells CNN. "A big belly is a sign a man has low testosterone levels. And the lower the testosterone, the greater the risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease." If you find your midsection steadily expanding, talk with your doctor about a weight-loss regimen or possible testosterone- replacement therapy.

3. ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION – Sure an occasional problem getting it up is perfectly normal, particularly as you age, but consistent erectile dysfunction can be a sign of psychological problems or serious physical ailments, including cardiovascular problems. See your doctor for a full physical exam, not just a prescription for Viagra.

4. FREQUENT URINATION – Having to pee more than usual—particularly multiple times at night—can be an early warning sign of prostate problems. It’s also a common symptom among diabetics with uncontrolled blood-sugar levels. "I'll ask a patient if he's getting up at night to urinate, and he'll say, 'Oh, yeah, two or three times.' I ask him if that bothers him, and he'll say no. I tell him it should," Fisch told CNN.com. If you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time in the restroom, schedule an appointment for a full physical, doctors recommend.

5. LONG-TERM PRESCRIPTION DRUG USE - It might seem difficult to believe, but many men end up hooked on prescription medications—particularly pain pills—and aren’t even aware of it, doctors say. "Maybe they're taking medicine for back pain, and a couple of years later they're still on them,” Joel Heidelbaugh, a family medicine specialist at the University of Michigan Medical School, tells CNN.com. “They can't function without them, and they don't even know it." So if you find yourself popping pills every day for an old ailment or out of habit, talk with your physician about possible addiction treatment.

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