Ways to Avoid Urological Issues as You Age
Urology problems can affect people of any age, but these tend to be more common among older adults. While not all issues can be prevented, there are steps you can take to look after your urological health as you age.
Urology focuses on conditions that affect the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra, as well as male reproductive health. Both men and women can be susceptible to urological conditions and diseases, but certain conditions are more common for men and older adults. Read on to find out more about common urological issues and how to avoid them.
Urinary incontinence refers to a person who is prone to leaking urine by accident. Although the condition can happen at any age, it is more common in older people. Urinary incontinence can be caused by many factors including infection or short-term side effects to certain medications. Incontinence in men is most frequently related to prostate gland issues such as an enlarged prostate or prostatitis, but it can also be caused by:
- Weakened bladder muscles
- Overactive bladder muscles
- Weakened pelvic floor muscles
- Prolapse of pelvic organs
- Nerve damage
- Prostate problems
- Mobility problems
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day, limiting caffeine intake, keeping your pelvic floor muscles strong, and good bathroom habits can all help to prevent urinary problems and improve bladder control.
If you are experiencing problems, or have concerns about urinary incontinence, you should visit your urologist. There are a range of effective treatments available to successfully treat incontinence which include medications, external catheters, artificial urinary sphincter, and a urethral sling procedure.
The prostate gland is a small organ in the male reproductive system located beneath the bladder. Its primary function is to nourish and transport sperm. It is common for the prostate gland to enlarge with age, a condition referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and can sometimes lead to problems. An enlarged prostate can put pressure on the urethra, which can result in urinary problems such as obstruction and urine storage issues, including:
- Difficulty starting urination
- A weak stream
- Dribbling at the end of urination
- Frequent or urgent urination
- Waking at night to urinate
- Urinary incontinence
In severe cases, BPH can cause frequent urinary tract and bladder infections along with a complete inability to urinate (retention) which can be life-threatening. Treatment for enlarged prostate may include lifestyle changes and medications. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove excess prostate tissue.
Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining weight control, stopping smoking, and getting regular prostate screenings all help to keep your prostate healthy and help prevent future problems. If you are experiencing symptoms such as urinary problems you should speak to your urologist as soon as possible as BPH shares similar symptoms to other conditions, such as prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer causes cells in the prostate gland to begin growing uncontrollably, which can invade and destroy nearby tissue. This type of cancer often develops slowly, meaning men can have it for years without developing any symptoms. Advanced prostate cancer may produce symptoms including:
- Difficulty urinating
- A weak urine stream
- Blood in urine or semen
- Erectile dysfunction
- Bone pain
- Unexplained weight loss
Prostate cancer has the best chance for successful treatment when detected early. Some low-grade prostate cancers may need minimal to no treatment, while other types of aggressive cancers may need to be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, cryosurgery, hormone therapy, or chemotherapy. Men with an increased risk for prostate cancer should have regular screening tests to help to identify prostate cancer in its early stages.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or sustain an erection firm enough for sexual activity. The condition can occur at any age, but it is more common in older men. It can also be caused by other factors such as diabetes, heart disease, vascular disease, low testosterone, and obesity. The most effective ways to help prevent erectile function, include:
- Regular exercise
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- A healthy diet
- Stopping smoking
- Limiting alcohol
- Trying to reduce stress and anxiety
Often, treating an underlying medical condition can improve ED. Other effective treatments for ED can include; lifestyle changes, medication, injections, vacuum-assisted devices, testosterone replacement therapy, and penile implant surgery.
Low Testosterone (Low-T)
Testosterone plays an important role in sexual health, energy levels, fat distribution, red blood cell production, and bone health. Testosterone levels can gradually decline with age causing symptoms including:
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Muscle weakness
- Mood changes
- Loss of sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
Low-T can also increase your risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.
Losing weight, regular cardiovascular and resistance-based exercise, and maintaining a healthy diet can all help to keep testosterone levels healthy. If you have signs and symptoms associated with low T, speak to your urologist for advice. Testosterone replacement therapy may be necessary to replenish your testosterone level and improve symptoms.
Comprehensive Urological Care, North Carolina
If you are experiencing urological issues or symptoms, visit urologist and men’s health specialist Richard Natale, MD, of Carolina Urology Partners. Dr. Natale’s expertise covers a broad range of men’s health conditions, including prostate problems, erectile dysfunction, low testosterone, urinary incontinence, kidney stones, and Peyronie’s disease.