Friday, 13 June 2008

I see no sickness

We all know men have shorter lifespans than women. But why? One reason is that men put off going to the doctor if they have an unusual physical symptom.

They often don't like to admit to weakness, or to needing help, so they ignore the symptom and hope it'll go away. A bit of blood? A strange lump? Probably nothing to worry about.

Frequently it's a woman who pesters the man to seek medical advice and tells him he should take his health seriously.

Dr Marianne Legato, author of "Why Men Die First", says men are told from an early age not to make a fuss but just "suck it up" and get on with life.

Her father died of cancer, partly because he ignored blood-tinged urine for two years before asking questions. Her son is now seriously ill, having delayed getting medical help.

Men are more prone to just about every major, life-threatening illness than women. So they should be more concerned about their health, not less.

My father had a stroke at 55, because he was unaware he had soaring blood pressure and had never thought of getting it checked. Many men still have no idea their blood pressure is way too high.

If I had a serious-looking symptom like blood in my pee or crippling headaches, I would be off to see Dr Julie like a shot. I certainly wouldn't assume it would magically go away and take no notice of it.

Why do men still think it's embarrassing to ask for help? Why do they risk not only dying but leaving grief-stricken partners and children? It's not just stubborn but irresponsible. Wise up, guys, and stop being a slave to masculine "toughness".

31 comments:

Thriftcriminal said...

Nick, please do not give advice like that, it will have a negative impact on the size of pension I can draw :-) Just kidding, it is a good point, but apparently the gap is closing, men are catching up, perhaps they are paying more attention to such things. We'll never get to be as old as nuns though, I reckon they are secetly immortal.

Baino said...

I have a theory. Totally unfounded I might add but we women are used to being poked and prodded in the most intimate places from an early age thanks to mammography and pap smears! (ughh) Men don't get a snort up the shoofter until the old prostate acts up! By the time we've hit 30 had a couple of kids and a good yeast infection there is nothing embarrassing about describing symptoms! I'm with Thrifty maybe celibacy, a simple diet and a 'tipple' now and then is good for your health. *slugs back another chardy*

Baino said...

PS: I'm chasing Thrifty around the blogosphere . . the man is mercurial . . he's everywhere!

Fate's Granddaughter said...

Right you are! My hubby packs me off to the doc at the first sign of a sniffle, but hasn't been himself in almost five years.

Xbox4NappyRash said...

I sucked it up and went to the doc a while back and it ended up costing me an extra 30 a month on life assurance...

I won't be going back so swiftly again!

Nick said...

Thrifty - If the gap is closing, unhappily it's partly because women are getting LESS healthy, now they're smoking and drinking more. But hopefully more men are getting the message.

Baino - That's a convincing theory. I've never had anything more intrusive than an echocardiogram, but Jenny's had a few intimate probings.

It's not Thrifty, it's one those Thrifty wannabees. They get everywhere.

FG - Five years eh? But maybe he's just fit and healthy. I've had that long between doctor's visits on occasion.

Xbox - Why so much extra? Did they find something worrying? If so, isn't it also helpful that you know about it and can take appropriate action?

Xbox4NappyRash said...

Oh sorry Nick, I never gave any actual useful info, I was ranting!

Basically I have hereditary high BP, and for my age, 29 at the time it was a total mismatch for their premium matrix.

Everything is under control, I'm fighting fit, but the figures got thrown out as a result, and I have a higher premium.

This was meant a bit tongue in cheek actually.

I'm fully supportive of getting fellas checked out, I've had my share of embarrassing medical moments so I believe that is the stumbling block.

Get one out of the way and it won't bother you so much next time arond!

Thriftcriminal said...

Nope, actually women were living longer and blokes catching up. Still, I have my doubts about how great increased longevity would be, specifically if everyone lives longer retiring art 65 will become a thing of the past and we'll all remain slaves to the wage for a lot longer. It will effectively increase the population at a greater rate too. Yeah, sure, none of us want to die, but at the end of the day we all have to sometime and I'd call 70 a good innings in my book (please tell me I haven't just advocated a "Children-to-middle-aged of the corn" approach)

conortje said...

and then when you do go you get sent from one specialist to the other - nobody ever probably reading your case history. Sorry, just annoyed about my sarcoidosis treatment here - When I get back from NY I will end up seeing my 7th specialist in as many months. I'm getting the feeling none of them care... Whoops, a bit off topic, sorry Nick.

Quickroute said...

I think men are trained from an early age not to show weakness, don't cry, suck it in and don't show if it hurts etc. For me this leads to avoiding visits to the doctor as if you need to go to the doctor you're obviously weak.

Obviously this is complete bollocks and defies all logic but that's how we were raised. Men are from Mars, Women from Venus and all that good stuff! and don't even get me started on why we refuse to ask for directions!

Aidan said...

Well, I am in the camp of never going to the doctor but not because I think I am tough.
For one people who go to the doctor very easily are prone to picking up worse bugs in the waiting room. For two people who go to the doctor a lot seem to turn into hypochondriacs and are always trying to 'medicalize' every pain. For three I believe that the human body can sort itself out more often than not without needing somebody prodding me around.
I never take any medicine unless I absolutely have to. On the very rare occasion when I go to the doctor I normally have done my own research so that I don't get
messed about.
Maybe my strategy will see me pop off earlier than necessary but at least I won't be killed by a hospital bug :-)

Thriftcriminal said...

@Aidan: Yeah, all cos of the Bunt and the Nihher isn't it? I agree with you though.

Nick said...

Xbox - Well, there you are, it's good you know about the high BP or you could have been a goner!

Thrifty - Totally agree, 70 years is quite enough, however enjoyable your life has been. I don't want to plod on till I'm 90 in increasing decrepitude. I'm getting creaky enough as it is.

The Bunt and the Nihher? You've lost me there. Is tat somting Oirish?

Conor - Tell me about it. My twinge-prone knees have been inspected by any number of GPs, physios, knee specialists and podiatrists but they all say something different.

Quicky - Yeah, doctors are for wimps, man. We can't have anything seriously wrong with us, we're tough, hairy blokes after all....

Aidan - Not convinced visiting the doctor turns you into a hypochondriac. Anyway, I was only really talking about serious symptoms that could mean a deadly illness. I agree minor illnesses usually sort themselves out.

Wisewebwoman said...

Gawd, Nick, maybe I'm surrounded by hypochondriac men or sumfin, because it's the women I know (including moi, hang head) that avoid doctors like the plague and seek more alternative holistic solutions.
All the men I know (incl 4 bros. ex-partners, husbands, male buds)run to the doc with a sniffle and I hear all about it. My dad also.
I must live in some kind of alternative universe.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www - That certainly sounds unusual. But then again, if the women had possible symptoms of some serious illness, I assume they'd still go to the doc? Presumably the alternative remedies are for relatively minor things?

Thriftcriminal said...

No Nick, in joke, apologies :-)

Grannymar said...

Good advice to be checked out! Know why you arre going to see the Dr and give him clear details of symptoms.

Nick said...

Thrifty - Fair enough, carry on, lads!

Grannymar - My doc is female, btw. But even when I describe the symptoms very precisely, it still doesn't help with a diagnosis. Sometimes I think I might as well consult the local witch doctor!

Nicole said...

I wish I had an explanation for why this is. Ignoring bloody urine makes no sense to me at all. That's the one place men should immediately freak out if they see blood coming from it. Although, I will say that going to the doctor draws similar fears as taking my car in for repairs. I'm always worried they'll find something beyond what I went in for. Maybe it's the same for men.

Nick said...

Nicole - The doctor never gives me a full-scale check-up so she's unlikely to find anything startling. I guess you have more thorough investigations which might turn up something major. And I also get very nervous about my annual car test!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It may be true in most cases, but not all. My late ex-husband was a hypochondriac who developed real ailments nonetheless. He had several heart attacks and then died of brain cancer at 50.

Everyone, male and female, should take responsibility for his or her own health. Symptoms ignored usually worsen rather than healing themselves.

Nick said...

Heart, I didn't know your ex-husband had succumbed to so much serious illness. That's very sad. But it emphasises the importance of watching our health, as you say.

Finn said...

If it's something minor, don't waste the doctor's time. If it's potentially serious, get there quick.
I've been worried recently - but I'd have worried a lot more if I hadn't seen a doctor.

Nick said...

Finn, good advice. And it sounds like the NHS was amazingly efficient in your case. That doesn't always happen!

Medbh said...

Nick this is one example of how patriarchy is harmful to men. The suck it up and move on gendered norm makes no sense. My father in law ignored his confusion and shaking hand for a year until he had a seizure and was hospitalized. He had a tumor on his brain the size of a grapefruit.

Nick said...

Very sorry to hear that, Medbh. But yet another example of how men assume those worrying symptoms will somehow miraculously go away.

Val said...

Again, I think it's upbringing not gender that makes some people afraid to do things and some not. If people are brought up to be aware of things then they are alerted early. Some people never are though.

As for women living longer, that's frequently in the genes, not the genders!

My dad lived to 86, my mum to 73. I've an uncle who's nearly ninety. There is longevity in my dad's side of the family. I just wish I knew who I took after, lol!

Nick said...

Val - Well, I would assume a doctor like her is in a position to know whether men ignore worrying symptoms or not, unless her patients are totally untypical! You might well be right though about longevity being all in the genes.

Val said...

One thing to bear in mind is she's an American doctor and while western lifestyles are similar here in the Uk and there in the 'states, they are not the same. Nor is the way people are brought up.

However, something I'm happy to talk about in email but not in a blog is my 'ethnic origin' (not American, not English) which, in my case, probably plays a big part in my own experiences and upbringing. Very different from the 'English' way.
:)
(Smiley inserted to indicate that this comment isn't a criticism, lol!)

Nick said...

Val - I wouldn't know about the different attitudes in America and Britain. You might be right. I would be interested in your upbringing, but I didn't see any email address on your blog. You can email me at my hotmail address if you like: nickhereandnow@hotmail.com

Val said...

Ah - I've finally tracked down this comment thread!

I emailed you but since my recent post a lot of my reticence about talking about some stuff seems to have been 'challenged' by me versus Mrs Icy so, just in case you're feeling a bit baffled now, just to say - hope you got the email, hope it wasn't confusing (or offputting!) or... whatever!

By the way, I've a contact form on my blog that gets directly to my email addy.
:)