Key health symptoms men should act on

Many men, even those in good health, may experience symptoms that are important to discuss with their health care providers, says Vikas Mehta, MBChB, general medicine doctor at Mayo Clinic Healthcare.

“For men, very often the symptoms that affect their lives are things that they are not very comfortable talking to others about,” says Dr Mehta, a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners and of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists’ Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health. “Often, these conditions are treatable.”

Health issues and symptoms to discuss include:

Sexual and urological:

  • Urinating often might be a sign of bladder or prostate issues or even diabetes. You should also discuss with your doctor any pain or difficulties while urinating.
  • Erectile dysfunction, such as difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, is treatable. However, it may be a symptom of a heart condition. “If there are issues with blood vessels in one part of the body, it’s very likely there are issues elsewhere,” Dr Mehta says.
  • A testicular exam may identify lumps early, when conditions are most treatable. “We find sometimes in screening tests that men have never had anyone other than their partners look at their sexual organs, and so we pick up a lot of issues or abnormalities,” Dr Mehta says.

Mental and emotional:

  • Mental health for me is a big one” for men to pay attention to, says Dr Mehta, noting that Mayo Clinic Healthcare is located in an area known for high-stress professions such as banking and law. “Knowing when and where to get help is very important.”


  • As you age, it may be taking you longer to heal from injuries. This may be caused by natural aging or related to inflammatory or musculoskeletal issues, such as muscle wasting.
  • Physical activity can affect mental health and help relieve stress. For men who are generally active, musculoskeletal conditions may take away that stress reliever and lead to mental health issues.
  • Consider screening for osteoarthritis and rheumatic diseases, such as psoriatic arthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis, especially if there is a family history.


  • Respiratory conditions can present as fatigue or feeling out of breath during exercise or just walking. If you have any of these symptoms or a chronic cough, consider screening. “Even if it’s just, ‘ I wake up in the morning and I cough,’ it shouldn’t be happening every day,” Dr Mehta says. Possible causes could be adult-onset asthma, COVID-related problems or a number of other conditions.
  • Sleep apnea can present as snoring or even stopping breathing while sleeping. Not getting enough quality sleep is linked to health problems such as higher blood pressure; anxiety and depression; and increased appetite that can lead to weight gain and even diabetes. “Snoring is a common reason for men to be kicked out of the bedroom by their partners, but the main sufferer is the person who has sleep apnea and is not getting quality sleep at night,” Dr Mehta says. “They may think, ‘You know, I can sleep anytime,’ but they don’t realize that they’re not sleeping well at night and as a result can fall asleep just like that during the day.”

Ear, nose and throat:

  • Ear pain, loss of hearing in one ear and tinnitus, (ringing and other noises in the ears), are becoming more common as people work from home and use headphones, Dr Mehta says.
  • Chronic sore throats, especially among smokers, and white lesions in the mouth may be signs of throat cancer, so should be checked out as early as possible. “It’s really important to get help in a timely manner if you have any of this,” Dr Mehta says.
  • Nasal polyps may be the cause of unexplained chronic congestion. For some, a symptom may be that it feels like it’s harder to breathe out of one nostril than the other.
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) may feel like you have to constantly clear your throat or like something is caught in your throat.


  • Along with frequent urination, another sign of diabetes may be often feeling thirsty.
  • Heavy consumers of alcohol should also be screened, Dr Mehta says.

Media contact: Sharon Theimer, Mayo Clinic Communications,