Health: Women key to boosting the health of men in West Yorkshire

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Ignoring ailments is something many men do – but it can be dangerous. Katie Baldwin reports on how women can help.

Men are notoriously bad at looking after their health.

They’re often much more reticient at going to the GP than women and more likely to ignore symptoms requests to take part in screening tests.

But this can have deadly consequences.

Health chiefs have long known that this reluctuance to seek help can be dangerous, with some men not being diagnosed with serious illnesses until they are advanced because they didn’t get themselves checked out soon enough.

The national Men’s Health Forum is aiming to improve the situation for men and raise awareness on a national scale with Men’s Health Week, which runs until Sunday.

And a West Yorkshire pharmacy is asking women to try to encourage their menfolk to talk about their health problems and encourage them to seek professional advice.

Laura White, manager of Medicx Pharmacy Ossett, said: “Women may joke about men complaining of ‘man flu,’ but when it comes to more serious health problems, men are often too shy or embarrassed to seek help.

“Whether it’s smoking cessation, weight management or cholesterol testing, we find that men are less likely than women to take advantage of the services that we offer.

“But this reluctance to seek medical advice means that any conditions individuals are suffering from will become more advanced – and more difficult to treat.”

She said that most serious illnesses which affect men, including prostate cancer, skin cancer, diabetes and heart problems, can be more successfully treated if detected early.

“As well as being too embarrassed or scared, one of the main reasons why men put off seeking medial attention is that they can’t get an appointment and don’t want to take any time off work,” she added.

“At Medicx Pharmacy you don’t need an appointment, you can just pop in for confidential, free advice and support.

“We also have a private consultation room and if your man is too embarrassed, we also offer anonymity, which some men may prefer.”

Changes to lifestyle, such as losing weight, cutting down on alcohol and stopping smoking all reduce the risk of potentially serious health problems – but some men may turn to food, cigarettes or booze to deal with stress.

Helping men cope better with stress is the theme of this year’s Men Health Week, and especially stress linked to work.

Dr John Chisholm, chair of the Men’s Health Forum, said: “Male identity is strongly tied up with work and how men earn a living. This means that health at work is doubly important for men. Perhaps men take their work too seriously and their health not seriously enough.

“Your best strategy is to prevent stress getting out of control by finding ways both to tackle the causes of stress and to improve your coping strategies.”

* More is at www.menshealthforum.org.uk.

To check out you or your man’s health, try the Medicx Pharmacy Ossett quiz.

Q. What is a healthy Body Mass Index for a man?

A. A BMI between 18.5-24.9 is a healthy range – a score of 25 or more means that you’re heavier than is healthy for someone of your height. Excess weight can put you at increased risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Q. What size is a healthy waist measurement for a man?

A. If your waist is bigger than 94cm, you are carrying too much fat around your belly, which increases your risk of heart disease, even if you’ve a ‘healthy’ BMI.

Q. How many units of alcohol should men consume per day?

A. Men should not regularly exceed 3 to 4 units per day (an average pint is 2.3 units).

Q. How many minutes of moderate physical activity should you aim for?

A. If you are not already physically active, work up to 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Walking briskly, mowing the lawn, bicycling, and swimming are just a few examples.

Q. How often should you have your blood pressure checked?

A. At least every two years.

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