How to spot the early warning signs of illness
If your body was a car would you take better care of it?
When a warning light comes on in your car you have two choices: deal with it or wait until you breakdown in the middle of the motorway. Few men would continue driving with steam pouring out of the radiator or loose steering but when it comes to our own bodies this is exactly what we do. Men regularly put up with many symptoms of early disease far longer than women.
If you had early warning lights on your body, here's what they might be trying to tell you. (Don't ignore them or or you might just find yourself looking for some pretty vital second-hand parts.) Click here to download a printable PDF of this section.
Oil pressure warning light: High blood pressure has few warning signs. That's why it is called the silent killer. Check your blood pressure at least once a year before you develop blood in your urine, tunnel vision or have a stroke.
Ignition warning light: If you are not charging your battery you will soon not be able to start your engine. Losing weight, a loss of appetite or difficulty in eating needs your doctor's attention (see diabetes and cancer).
Rev counter: If you are over-revving on slight inclines your engine will wear out prematurely. Being unfit is one cause of a high heart rate which refuses to return to normal quickly after exercise.
Speedometer: KPH or MPH, if you can't seem to get past idling speed you need to see your doctor or think seriously about some more exercise.
Brake warning light: Not being able to resist one more drink with days off work, poor sleep, bad temper and friction at home is a sign of the brakes needing attention.
Main Beam warning light: Are you peering into the gloom? Maybe your eyes need testing. Diabetes is a common cause of eye problems (see diabetes).
Temperature gauge: Over heating is a common sign of obesity. You may find your radiator boiling over as well. This can affect your heart, pancreas and blood vessels, not to mention your erectile function.
Fuel gauge: Trouble with your erections? You may have an underlying condition causing erectile dysfunction or impotence (see erection problems & diabetes).
Seat belt warning noise: Taking unnecessary risks? Young men are much more likely than older men to risk their lives through fast driving, not wearing protective clothing and failing to see their doctor when they find something wrong.
Low tyre pressure: Feeling down? Depression is grossly under-diagnosed in men while suicide is four times higher than in women. Look out for loss of interest, 'short fuses', alcohol abuse, loss of libido or thoughts of harming yourself (see depression).
High exhaust gas emissions & backfire: Inefficient fuel combustion is similar to poor digestion which can result from various problems not least cancer. Blood in your stool is a warning sign not to be ignored.
Engine misfire: Timing is just as important to the heart as it is to the car engine. An irregular heart rate, especially with exercise, needs attention.
Engine labouring: Pain in the chest could be a sign of problems with your heart (see angina, heart attack).
Direction indicator failure: Bad earth? Poor circulation and nerve disorders can cause problems with the body's 'electrics' (see stroke & diabetes).
STOP warning indicator: Hopefully after reading this section you will never see this indicator come on, or at least not until you can be classified as a vintage model.
Make no mistake, you are in control of your body - good drivers take heed of warning signs.
For years men have turned to the familar format of the Haynes manual for advice, guidance and trouble-shooting tips for their cars. Now there is a Haynes manual written by the Men's Health Forum president Dr Ian Bank. Not for his dodgy motor but for the male body. This is an extract. Have a read and you'll see how by comparison with the design and engineering involved in human body, the finest Formula One car is little more than a box on wheels. Click for more.
Page created on January 1st, 2003
Page updated on January 19th, 2010