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Men’s Health Month: Why Doctors Aren’t Just for Women

Krista Giannak

Last updated: November 9, 2016 9:10 pm

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Men are 33 percent less likely to visit a doctor than women, and their life expectancy is more than five years less compared to women. 1 Every June, Men’s Health Network unites healthcare professionals and concerned citizens nationwide to celebrate Men’s Health Month. The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to raise awareness of the many preventable health conditions men face all year long. Throughout the month of June, men and boys are encouraged to attend screenings and other men’s health events for early detection and treatment of potential health problems. 2 3

As part of Men’s Health Month, June 13-19, 2016, the week leading up to Father’s Day, is Men’s Health Week. As a symbol of the week and the importance of its cause, people wear blue on the Friday before Father’s Day. 4 5

Men’s Health Facts

WebMD cites some important facts about men’s health that might encourage men to visit their doctors and seek preventive health care sooner. These include:

  1. Heart disease tends to begin 10 years earlier in men than women.
  2. Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women.
  3. After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men. Prostate cancer screenings can save lives. 6

Heartburn Symptoms in Men Versus Heart Attack Symptoms

Men and women both experience heartburn. However, some people may experience a heart attack, mistakenly believing they are having heartburn. According to WebMD, the chest pain from severe heartburn episodes is often indistinguishable from the pain of a heart attack. Therefore, you should consult a doctor about any unexplained chest pain. 7

Heartburn chest pain may occur after lying down or bending over. The pain may last for a few minutes to up to several hours after eating. Aside from chest pain, WebMD cites other heartburn symptoms in men and women, including:

  • A burning sensation just behind the breastbone
  • Feeling like you have food stuck in your chest or throat
  • Trouble swallowing 8

As heartburn persists, it may lead to a chronic cough, hoarseness or a sore throat. See your doctor for persistent or severe symptoms, especially if other symptoms, such as weight loss, occur along with them. 9 10

Stomach Acid Reflux

The UC Davis Health System cites stomach acid reflux as a cause for heartburn symptoms. Acid reflux occurs when the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus, also called the lower esophageal sphincter, relaxes, allowing stomach acid to travel up to the esophagus. If stomach acid reflux does not occur very often, it may not harm the esophagus. 11

GERD Acid Reflux

Ten percent of adults develop daily stomach acid reflux symptoms, and esophageal tissue damage occurs in about half of those, according to the UC Davis Health System. This damage can lead to bleeding and painful swallowing. In fact, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the United States’ most common chronic disease in adults. Early treatment of GERD acid reflux, including lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking and reducing alcohol intake, may bring relief and prevent serious complications. 12

Taking Proton Pump Inhibitors for Heartburn

You may be taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for heartburn or GERD acid reflux, including esomeprazole (Nexium), omeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid).

Recent studies have also shown an association between PPI use and kidney problems, especially incident chronic kidney disease, acute interstitial nephritis, acute kidney injury and end-stage renal disease. The studies compared thousands of patients who used PPIs with those who used H2 receptor antagonists as an alternate treatment. The authors of these studies recommend further research into the long-term effects of PPIs on the kidneys. 13 Kidney diseases can cause your kidneys to stop working, which can be fatal in some cases. 14

  1. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/men/features/mens-top-5-health-concerns. (Accessed April 21, 2016). 

  2. Men’s Health Network. http://www.menshealthmonth.org. (Accessed April 21, 2016). 

  3. Men’s Health Network.http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/library/Mens-Health-Month-060115.pdf. (Accessed April 21, 2016). 

  4. Men’s Health Network. http://www.menshealthmonth.org/week.html. (Accessed April 21, 2016). 

  5. Wear BLUE Day 2016. http://www.menshealthnetwork.org/wearblue/friday/. (Accessed May 2, 2016). 

  6. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/men/features/mens-top-5-health-concerns. (Accessed April 21, 2016). 

  7. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/diagnose. (Accessed April 21, 2016). 

  8. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/diagnose. (Accessed April 21, 2016). 

  9. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/diagnose. (Accessed April 21, 2016). 

  10. UC Davis Health System. http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/20081204_heartburn/index.html. (Accessed April 22, 2016). 

  11. UC Davis Health System. http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/20081204_heartburn/index.html. (Accessed April 22, 2016). 

  12. UC Davis Health System. http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/20081204_heartburn/index.html. (Accessed April 22, 2016). 

  13. Journal of the American Medical Association. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2481157. (Accessed April 22, 2016). 

  14. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-kidney-disease-basic-information. (Accessed April 21, 2016).; CMAJ Open. http://cmajopen.ca/content/3/2/E166.full. (Accessed May 2, 2016).; http://bmcnephrol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2369-14-150. (Accessed May 2, 2016).; Journal of the American Society of Nephrology http://jasn.asnjournals.org/content/early/2016/04/13/ASN.2015121377. (Accessed May 2, 2016).; Medicine. http://journals.lww.com/md-journal/Abstract/2016/04120/Association_Between_the_Use_of_Proton_Pump.59.aspx. (Accessed May 2, 2016).; NCBI. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27072818. (Accessed May 2, 2016).