Hot flushes do occur in men, although far less commonly than in women (stock image)
I’m a fit and healthy 76-year-old man – but over the past year or so I have been experiencing hot flushes. They occur irregularly, sometimes weeks apart, but then up to half a dozen or more times a day over a several days. There seems to be no particular pattern or trigger. My GP has no answer and a blood test turned out normal. Any thoughts?
Hot flushes do occur in men, although far less commonly than in women – who often experience menopausal flushing, which is related to dropping hormone levels.
Men can get hormone-related hot flushing too, but it is usually related to medication. For example, it’s a known side effect of some prostate cancer treatments.
If the flushing occurs in clusters, it is possible this is a reaction to something. It can be hard to spot triggers when we look back at symptoms and try to remember what we ate or did.
It’s far better to monitor the situation by keeping a symptom diary: when you have an attack, write down exactly what you were doing, what you’d eaten beforehand, and anything else that’s relevant. This way, patterns may emerge.
For example, monosodium glutamate, the food additive found in Asian takeaways, is reported to cause flushing and light sweating. Spicy food, caffeine and chilli are other known triggers.
Flushing does occur for medical reasons, too, and investigations may need to go a bit further than a blood test. A fast or irregular heart rhythm – not uncommon in older people – could cause the feeling of a hot flush. If it’s only intermittent, it would be hard to detect by an examination, but a wearable heart-rate monitor may pick that up.
Similar waves of a fast heart rate and flushing may occur with panic and anxiety, even in someone with no other psychological symptoms. Facial flushing and redness is a typical feature of the skin condition rosacea – this can be associated with waves of feeling hot. With an irregular symptom, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause. A second consultation may be worthwhile for you.
I’ve been experiencing muscle weakness in my legs for two years. Prior to it starting, I’d had quite a stressful period in my life. I’m worried I’m developing motor neurone disease, which my older brother had and suffered terribly with for eight years before dying. Part of me wants to know, but also, if there is no cure, perhaps there’s no point in being diagnosed?
Muscle weakness can be a sign of many things. For a start, weakness occurs with ageing. This is known as sarcopenia – a natural loss of muscle. For some people this may feel pretty noticeable, especially if it has been worsened by stress or a lack of exercise.
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Muscle weakness could also be due to a whole host of other conditions such as thyroid disease, fibromyalgia and heart disease.
But muscle weakness is indeed a sign of motor neurone disease, in which the nerves controlling all muscles stop working, leading to weakness, stiffness and muscle wasting. However, in most cases, it does not run in families. Only one in 15 people with motor neurone disease has a close relative with the condition.
As for seeking a diagnosis if there is no cure – it gives people the chance to plan and make decisions about their care, and access to treatments to relieve symptoms and suffering.
Over 65? Let’s talk safe sex
Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise among over-65s, according to the latest figures from Public Health England, with a 42 per cent jump in one common type.
Why is it happening?
Well, older adults are far less likely to practise safe sex or go for a sexual health check – and this is something that is going to have to change.
We are all a bit too prudish about talking about these things, but people of all ages need to feel comfortable talking about sexual health with their doctors and nurses. A key factor, I think, is that sexual health clinics are designed with young people in mind – late opening hours, walk-in appointments only, and online-only booking systems. These clinics may need to evolve to be comfortably accessible to a far wider age group, as we discover many more people than once thought are affected by these conditions.
Older adults are far less likely to practise safe sex or go for a sexual health check (stock image)
Babies are drooling over the Dad Shirt
The latest gimmick in the multi-billion-pound parenting industry to catch my eye is The Dad Shirt – a seemingly ordinary T-shirt that has a baby-sized pouch at the front for carrying your new-born close to you.
The trendy idea that you have to hold your baby near your body at all times to ‘bond’ with it is a nonsense concept, medically speaking – but this does look practical: tuck baby in so your hands are free and you can get on with myriad tasks.
My only worry is that new Dad’s lovely grey jersey might not look so pristine with a few hours’ accumulation of baby drool all over it…
My only worry is that new Dad’s lovely grey jersey might not look so pristine with a few hours’ accumulation of baby drool all over it
Tycoon Alan Sugar’s brush with death is an important lesson for all of us – no chest pain should be taken lightly. The 72-year-old revealed last week that he had been diagnosed with a deadly heart blockage, known as a ‘widow-maker’.
In cases like his, a vital blood vessel that supplies the heart becomes blocked, starving the heart muscle of oxygen. Usually the only clue can be a vague sense of chest pain– Lord Sugar even completed a 25-mile bike ride while his heart was failing – and most instances end in death.
Any chest pain, however mild, warrants urgent consultation.