YOUNG MEN AT RISK
Five Ailments that Affect Young Men
Many young guys are stubborn. We don't like seeing the doctor unless it's absolutely necessary. But our pig-headedness can sometimes get us into trouble, especially when we wait for a minor condition to blow up into a serious ailment.
Young men between the ages of 18 and 35 are susceptible to some uncommon diseases that, if left untreated, can leave them with permanent damage and a hefty medical bill. Here are some ailments that, while infrequent, are worth knowing about.
Don't let the misnomer scare you. The red, bumpy ring that forms on the skin isn't caused by a worm, but by a fungus. It's the same fungus that causes athlete's foot, jock itch and toenail fungus, but it generally affects the scalp, body, feet, or nails.
On the scalp, ringworm starts as a pimple and grows into a small bald spot. On the body, it makes the skin scaly and itchy. It's transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal, or by contact with an object that carries it, such as bed sheets, hats, brushes, stuffed animals, and gym mats. It usually appears 10 to 14 days after exposure.
If left untreated, you can be left with an ugly infection that doesn't clear up easily.
Who is at risk: Anyone, but it's more common in school-age children and athletes. The damp floors of locker rooms are perfect breeding grounds for the fungus, as are dirty gym mats.
What to do: First, see a doctor. If you're diagnosed with ringworm, he'll prescribe either a cream or an oral medication, or both. You can prevent infection by keeping bathtubs and shower stalls clean, disinfecting floors and mats, and by not sharing hats, towels or any other personal items with anyone else.
Your stomach and kidneys are sensitive areas; find out which diseases can affect them...
Ulcers occur when the stomach acids break through the protective lining of the stomach and eat away at the tissue. The most common form of ulcer among young men is in the duodenum, the passage that connects the stomach to the small intestine.
Ulcers manifest themselves as intermittent pain under the sternum after a meal or when you're hungry, and at night. You may also experience some nausea, vomiting, indigestion, and bloody stool. Without treatment, the ulcer can expand and result in internal bleeding. In extreme cases, a hole forms in the duodenum, leaking the contents of your digestive tract into your abdominal cavity.
Duodenal ulcers are mostly caused by the H. pylori bacteria, which shrivel the protective lining, but medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen can also attack the lining. Drinking and smoking also significantly increase your chances of developing an ulcer.
Who's at risk: Men with blood type O are at higher risk, as are men who consume drugs, alcohol and tobacco products.
What to do: A doctor locates the ulcer with an endoscope, a thin telescopic camera that goes into your stomach. If it is caused by bacteria, antibiotics are prescribed along with a medication to lower stomach acidity. Otherwise, the patient should cease to take anti-inflammatory pills that aggravate the ulcer.
You don't know how awful stones feel until you have passed one yourself. Think about trying to squeeze a golf ball through a garden hose. Now imagine that hose being your man tubes. Ouch.
But kidney stones are common in men, especially those who don't drink enough fluids. Since the kidneys filter your blood, a high concentration of metabolic waste can crystalize in the organs and clump into stones.
Three types of stones are common in men:
Symptoms only appear when a stone gets large enough to block a urinary canal. These include intense pain in your back or on your side below the rib cage; it may even move to your groin. Other signs include bloody or cloudy urine, nausea, and a constant urge to urinate. Urinary tract infections happen frequently with kidney stones.
Who's at risk: White men between the ages of 20 and 40 are the most frequent victims. You're more likely to develop stones if someone in your family has had them. Lack of fluids, high-protein and low-fiber diets, and a sedentary lifestyle also put you at risk.
What to do: Once your doctor locates the stone by ultrasound or a CT scan, he'll have several options. One is extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy, a painless shockwave that blasts the stones into small bits that you can pass with ease. Otherwise, the stone is removed by surgery or with a ureteroscope, a little instrument that enters your ureter via your bladder.
The "silent disease" and heart problems you may not know you can get...
The most common sexually transmitted disease in the Western world is often called the "silent disease" because many people who have it aren't even aware of it. The Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria live inside your semen but don't always cause symptoms. When they do, it's usually one to three weeks after infection; your penis may ooze a gooey discharge like pus or urinating may be painful. However, these symptoms can be so mild that you may not even notice them.
It's curable, though if left untreated, it can cause epididymitis, an infection of the reproductive pipes near the scrotum, which becomes swollen and painful. In extreme cases, it can cause infertility.
Who's at risk: Sexually active men who engage in vaginal, oral and anal sex without protection.
What to do: A sample of urine or penile fluid is sent to a lab. If it comes back positive, you'll be prescribed an antibiotic. You should also have the maturity to inform partners about your condition, so that they can get tested and take the necessary precautions.
Though heartbeat anomalies are more common in men over 60, a surprising number of younger men are also victims. For instance, heart murmur, a dysfunction of the heart valves that causes an unusual sound, affects 4% of young men. Heart palpitations, or an accelerated heartbeat, can affect people who exercise a lot or suffer from anxiety, among other conditions.
While the occasional skipped beat or pounding heart is nothing to worry about, in chronic conditions, it can be life threatening. You should be worried if the symptoms are noticeable after a long period of time at rest. For example, does your pulse exceed 100 beats per minute for an extended period of time? Is your irregular heartbeat accompanied by chest pain, dizziness and fainting? If so, it's time to see a doctor.
Who's at risk: Most heartbeat problems are caused by congenital heart conditions, an overactive thyroid, high anxiety, stress, or fear. Stimulants like caffeine, nicotine and cocaine, as well as thyroid medications, can cause palpitations. High blood pressure and diabetes are also risk factors.
What to do: An electrocardiogram will record your heartbeat to determine the extent of the problem; then the treatment is up to your doctor. Medication usually solves most heartbeat issues, but you may need to have a pacemaker implanted.
Be smart, be healthy
As much as we like to think we're the paragons of good health, young men can fall victim to ailments that will cause much distress if left alone. The wise man is aware of them and takes care of them sooner than later.
Source: By Charles Capuano. E-Mail www.askmen.com/sports/health_100/116_mens_health.html