Why are men more likley to avoid doctor visits?

Men wait until there is a serious health issue affecting their quality of life before visiting a doctor

Dubai: Most men are reluctant to visit their doctors and are more likely to have a serious condition when they make a visit, UAE-based doctors have said.

Men lead women in all the 15 leading causes of death except Alzheimer’s disease, and compared to women, men mostly avoid doctor visits until their medical condition begins to hamper their routine daily activity, they said.

This attitude, according to internal medicine specialists, can have serious repercussions on their health.

Dr Dirar Abdullah, consultant, internal medicine, Prime Hospital said the likelihood of males consulting their physicians on a regular basis is very slim and men are usually unaware of diagnosing some symptoms which can lead to serious medical conditions.

“Most men take their health for granted as long as they are working and feeling productive and they do not pay attention to the risk factors associated with their lifestyle,” Dr Adullah told Gulf News.

According to Dr Abdullah, men are susceptible to many illnesses. Research suggests that the top threats to men’s health are cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, prostate cancer, depression, suicide, and diabetes.

“Another cause for concern is the fact that heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and dementia are becoming more and more prevalent in men. The risk factors shared by these conditions include smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol,” he explained.

Family history also plays a role in the onset of these diseases. The presence of some diseases also increases the likelihood that another will occur.

“By deciding to go the doctor only when their medical situation is fast deteriorating, they are, to some extent, foregoing that opportunity to fight the disease when their bodies are still strong, and they are still physically capable.”

Dr Abdullah pointed out that the cultural upbringing and the perception that men are stronger and shouldn’t appear weak could be another reason why men do not pay their doctors a visit. This, he said, requires constant education, encouragement from family members and awareness.

Echoing the same observation, Dr Mustafa Saif, Specialist, Internal Medicine and H.O.D Emergency Department at Aster Hospital, said there could be a general lack of awareness about the importance of consulting a specialist upon observing unusual symptoms, but also men do not consider the need to visit a doctor and hope the issue will go away with time.

“There is a difference between feeling healthy and being healthy. The most common reason given for men not visiting the doctor is because they are healthy, but how do you know that? There are a lot of medical conditions that do not depict any physical symptoms until they get severe,” Dr Saif said.

However, he said he has seen some improvement in men taking better responsibility for their health, especially among the younger generation who are more aware and health conscious.

He pointed out some of the most commonly disregarded symptoms that men should watch out for include acid reflux, chest pain, frequent urination and snoring.

“Acid reflux is mostly mistaken to gas as a result of over eating. Most people suffer from acid reflux at some point in life but for a lot of people this could lead to a chronic lifelong condition. Chest pain is also often misinterpreted for a symptom related to that of a heart condition, it is often ignored until it gets severe. Firstly, it is important to understand that chest pain could also be caused due to Gastroesophageal reflux disease and other health conditions.”

He added that frequent urination, which is a common sign of diabetes, should be noted, while excessive snoring, on the other hand, can be due to an underlying condition.

“Diabetes is a chronic condition that drastically affects life of those suffering from it, if left uncontrolled. Snoring is not harmful, but obstructive sleep apnea could lead to many clinical conditions like hypertension, lack of concentration, metabolic syndrome and strokes, if left untreated,” he said.

According to Dr Saif, men are also generally less likely to visit a specialist complaining of a cold or an ache unless the condition gets severe.

The doctors advised paying attention to the body’s warning signs and symptoms and seeking medical advice at an earlier stage so any condition can be diagnosed at an early stage and treated.

“There are expected and normal physiological changes in some of the hormones in the male body as they age. The effects of these changes can be lessened by maintaining an active lifestyle, a healthy diet, and through regular health monitoring,” said Dr Abdullah.

Health conditions that can affect men:

 Diabetes

 Hypertension

 Cardiovascular diseases

 Cancers, particularly cancer of the prostate, lung and liver

 Stroke

 Respiratory diseases

 Alzheimer’s

 Depression

 Urological conditions

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