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6 Health Issues Men Hate to Talk About


It’s a long-running joke that men hate talking about health issues that they’re experiencing. The Cleveland Clinic’s 2016 MENtion it Survey found that there was actually truth in that joke. The survey found that few men feel comfortable discussing serious health issues:

  • Only 7 percent are comfortable discussing gastrointestinal problems.
  • Only 5 percent are comfortable discussing sexual health problems.
  • Only 3 percent are comfortable discussing urinary problems.

Keep reading for insight into six health issues that men hate to talk about.

1. Acid Reflux/GERD 

Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are related but not the same. Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux (GER), occurs when stomach acid flows into the esophagus. Acid reflux becomes GERD when it causes injury to the esophagus or results in symptoms.

Acid reflux symptoms include coughing, laryngitis, asthma, and sleep disruption. GERD symptoms include heartburn, chest pain, trouble swallowing, regurgitating food or sour liquid, and feeling like there is a lump in the throat.

Some medications, like antacids and histamine antagonists, can reduce the symptoms of GERD. Lifestyle changes can help, too. These include losing weight, raising the head of your bed six to eight inches, stopping smoking, chewing gum or using oral lozenges, avoiding tight clothes, and avoiding heavy lifting. Changing your diet can help, too.
Avoiding fatty foods, caffeine, chocolate, and peppermint can lessen GERD symptoms. Not overeating and not eating before bed can ease symptoms.

If symptoms persist, your doctor might recommend a proton pump inhibitor, a prescription medication that reduces the amount of stomach acid made by the glands in the lining of your stomach, or GERD surgery.

2. Ulcers

Ulcers are open sores that form on the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine called the duodenum. They are painful. Ulcers occur more often in men, especially duodenal ulcers. Symptoms include pain in the abdomen, which is enough to wake men up in the middle of the night. Ulcers were previously thought to be caused by stress. It’s now known that ulcers are caused by certain bacteria and the overuse of pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen.

If you think you have an ulcer, make an appointment to see your doctor. When an ulcer isn’t treated, digestive juices and stomach acid can eat a hole in the intestinal lining. This causes pain and may require hospitalization and surgery. Prescription medication can heal an ulcer over several months.

Until your appointment, you can try some home remedies to ease the pain. Eat small meals throughout the day. When you have food in your stomach, ulcers hurt less. There is no evidence that eating a bland diet helps ease ulcer symptoms. Stop using ibuprofen and aspirin.

3. Constipation

Trying to go unsuccessfully? You’re probably constipated. The main symptoms are the absence of bowel movements for multiple days and feeling uncomfortably full. Constipation can be caused by a low-fiber diet, lack of activity, side effects of medication, or stress.

Laxatives or stool softeners can be used to ease constipation. However, regular laxative usage can lead to your bowels becoming dependant on laxatives to stimulate them. This will make constipation worse.

Try adding fiber to your diet. Fiber adds bulk to stool, which helps it move through your body. Sources of fiber include bran, whole wheat bread, nuts, beans, fruits, and vegetables. If you’re 50 or younger, eat 38 grams of fiber a day. If you’re older, eat 30 grams. Exercise and staying hydrated can also help with constipation.

If you have a swollen stomach or severe pain, see your primary health care provider. These symptoms could indicate a more serious digestive issue.

4. Food Poisoning

Food poisoning, or food-borne illness, is caused by bacteria in food. The bacteria is usually salmonella, campylobacter, or E. coli. Food poisoning results in stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, 24 to 72 hours after eating.

Adult men usually recover from food poisoning in a day or a couple of days without treatment. As your digestive processes work, toxins are flushed from the body. If you can keep anything down, sip clear liquids, like sports drinks, to avoid dehydration. You won’t need to take diarrhea medications.

If you’re still feeling ill after 48 hours or you develop a fever, you may have a more serious bacterial infection. You should call your primary healthcare provider.

5. Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are veins in the lower rectum and anus that have become swollen, are common. The majority of adults experience hemorrhoids. About half of the men between 45 and 65 have had hemorrhoids. They are usually caused by straining when using the bathroom and being overweight.

Symptoms of hemorrhoids include irritation, pain, discomfort, itching, swelling, inflammation, and bleeding during bowel movements. Some may experience a protrusion or hard lump around the anus.

People with hemorrhoids can try home remedies.
Eating high fiber foods, using hemorrhoid creams, soaking in a sitz bath, taking laxatives, or using oral pain relievers may provide some relief.

If home remedies don’t work, there are other options. Hemorrhoid banding is a quick, non-surgical, painless procedure, during which a small rubber band is placed around the base of the hemorrhoid. This restricts its blood supply, causing the hemorrhoid to shrink and fall off. Laser, infrared, or bipolar coagulation use a laser, infrared light, or heat to cause the hemorrhoids to harden and shrivel. Sclerotherapy, a chemical injection, causes the hemorrhoid to shrink and scar.

Minimally invasive options might not work for everyone. If large or severe hemorrhoids are still causing discomfort, their doctor might recommend surgical removal, or hemorrhoidectomy,

To avoid developing hemorrhoids, eat enough fiber each day, drink plenty of water, breathe naturally when lifting heavy items, get enough exercise, and avoid sitting for long periods of time. Use the bathroom when you feel the urge, and don’t strain during bowel movements.

6. Celiac Disease 

Celiac disease is the inability to process gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. When people who have celiac disease eat gluten, an immune response occurs in the small intestine, which damages the lining of the small intestine over time. This can prevent the absorption of some nutrients.

Over 80% of people who have celiac disease don’t know they have it. Symptoms of celiac disease include weight loss, fatigue, diarrhea, depression, anemia, bloating, bone loss, and seizures.

Treatment for celiac is to avoid eating gluten. There is no cure. Most people can manage symptoms and heal by eating a gluten-free diet.

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, there’s no need to be embarrassed or avoid the doctor. Though some of these digestive problems are not serious, some require a visit to your gastroenterologist. Request an appointment today.

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