Your body is designed to give you early warning signs if things aren’t as they should be.
Peppy’s Men’s Health specialist Helen Lake explains body changes and symptoms you should get checked with your GP sooner rather than later.
Firstly, not all red flag symptoms are serious. But the key is to be aware of the signs that need to be checked out, just in case there is a problem, so that it can be treated early.
In most of the cases below, early detection can make all the difference.
If you have symptoms that are worrying you and you’re embarrassed about seeing your doctor, you can chat anonymously to your Peppy practitioner.
But I promise you that your doctor has seen it all before…
Here’s a rundown of what to report:
1. Blood in your urine
- Even if this is just a one-off it needs to be reported to your GP who should refer you to urology for further checks.
- Blood in your pee is one of the first symptoms of bladder and kidney cancer. By checking the cells in your urine, arranging a bladder and kidney scan and a telescopic examination of your bladder, your doctor can either rule it out or take action.
- Don’t put it off. Less worrying explanations can be kidney stones, infection and a possible narrowing in your water pipe (urethra).
- Whatever the cause, get it checked and get treated.
2. Lumps, bumps and changes to your testicles
- It’s important to check your balls regularly for any changes such as new lumps or changes in size – ideally on a monthly basis.
Watch Dr Richard Viney showing you how in the video below:
- Testicular cancer, though still rare, is the most common male cancer in men in their 20s and 30s. However, when caught early it can be treated successfully.
Remember, it’s more likely to be a less worrying explanation such as a simple cyst.
Checking your balls is important at any age.
3. Pee problems
- Needing to pee a lot with not much coming out or pee that is a bit stop and start?
- Needing to pass urine frequently and a feeling that you haven’t quite emptied the tank could be a sign of a system blockage.
- Your prostate is the cause of many plumbing problems. It grows and when it gets larger it presses on the bladder and urethra, affecting your usual free flow.
- Prostate enlargement is usually non-cancerous but cancer needs to be ruled out. So report these changes to your doctor as soon as you can.
Remember, putting off taking action could result in a complete system blockage (that means you’ll need a catheter). Don’t delay.
4. A mole that’s changed in colour or size
- Sun out and the shirt off? The most common site for melanoma in men is on the trunk (chest, abdomen and back) and rates are rising in the UK (it’s now the second most common cancer in the age group 25 to 49 years).
- Moles that are asymmetric, multi-coloured and raised with itching and bleeding need an urgent check.
- Don’t sit on it. The good news is that early detection can lead to a complete cure with removal.
5. Sudden weight loss
- You’ve upped the exercise and cut back on the junk food, and you’re happy to see a shrinking beer belly – a good result.
- Not so good is unexpected and rapid weight loss. If you lose around five per cent of your body weight over six to nine months unintentionally, this needs checking.
- This is not a cause for celebration and a very big red flag. Especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as altered bowel habits and fatigue.
- A swift visit to the GP will work out what’s going on. Everyone thinks ‘cancer’, but it could also be celiac disease, colitis, or thyroid problems for example. The important thing is to get checked out.
6. Jaw pain and numbness
- This one requires immediate action and you should contact emergency services or attend A&E.
- Why? Because this type of pain can be an indication of a stroke or TIA (transient ischaemic attack – or ‘mini’ stroke) and must be ruled out.
- It could also be a sign of neuralgia from an irritated facial nerve, or Bell’s palsy, when there is inflammation around the facial nerve and this pressure causes facial paralysis on the affected side.
- Don’t panic but do get checked out.
And remember, myself and the Peppy practitioners are available to chat with you anonymously anytime about any of your health concerns.
Find out more about workplace men’s health support from Peppy here.