While there are lots of preventable health problems you could encounter in your lifetime, digestive health issues are something many people suffer from yet are not as popular to address.
According to a report by the Men’s Health Network, “women are 3-4 times more likely than men to see a primary care doctor or a specialist for GI-related problems.” This is why talking about digestive health for men is important.
While digestive disorders occur in both men and women, there are some that are more prevalent in men. When these disorders go untreated, they can become chronic, interfere with everyday life, and develop into serious issues. They could also be signs and symptoms of major disorders that need to be treated.
Here are 4 digestive problems common in men.
Acid reflux happens when stomach acid flows up the esophagus and causes a burning sensation in the chest. It’s caused by a malfunctioning sphincter that either fails to stay closed or doesn’t open at the right time. Long term acid reflux can become a serious issue. It can damage your esophagus and/or lead to Barrett’s esophagus, which is a precursor for esophageal cancer.
Chronic acid reflux could also mean you have GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). If left untreated, GERD could increase your risk for esophageal cancer.
Acid reflux symptoms can be reduced or prevented through diet and lifestyle change.
Ulcers are open sores that develop on the stomach and upper intestine. Symptoms of ulcers include pain in the abdomen (the most common symptom), weight loss, nausea, vomiting, bloating, acid reflux, and heartburn. Ulcers can be caused by bacterial infection, and overuse of pain relievers like Ibuprofen and aspirin. Contrary to popular belief, they are not caused by stress.
Untreated ulcers can develop into a hole in your digestive lining that causes excruciating pain and hospitalization.
Constipation is caused by lack of fiber in your diet, medication side effects, stress, and lack of physical activity. Want to prevent it? Exercise, drink plenty of water, and add more fiber to your diet. Long bouts of constipation can be a sign of something more serious. You should call your doctor if constipation is an ongoing or regular problem.
Men have a slightly higher risk than women for developing colon cancer. If you are over 50, you should be screened regularly for colon cancer. If you have a family history of colon cancer, you should be screen at 40. Catching it early could save your life!
Risk factors for colon cancer include:
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Poor diet
- Inactive lifestyle
- Being overweight or obese
- Heavy alcohol use
- Old age
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heritage (African Americans have a higher risk)
Symptoms include blood in stool, regular bowel irregularities, excessive fatigue, anemia, rapid weight loss. Screenings are extremely important so make sure you talk to your doctor about possible symptoms or risks.
Don’t let digestive stress go. It’s important to pay attention to signs and symptoms and talk to your doctor if you are in pain or if symptoms persist. Catching things early can be a lifesaver.