Men's Health Issues: Wellness and Prevention
Three of the top issues for men today are Prostate, Bone Health, & Male Menopause. I would like to discuss each of these briefly.
The three main prostate problems affecting most men are inflammation (prostatitis), prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia), and prostate cancer.
Inflammation or Prostatitis - can be caused by a bacterial infection and can be treated with antibiotics before it gets worse. If no change in symptoms within 3 months, then request to see a physical therapist who specializes in men's health problems (prostate, urinary, post-surgical pelvic and scrotal pain, and erectile dysfunction). Some physical therapist are specially credentialed to evaluate, assess, and treat men's health problems.
Enlargement or Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP) often comes with age. The main cause is still debated, but studies suggest that BHP can be caused by the decrease in testosterone as men age, or by the accumulation of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more potent type of testosterone.
Prostate cancer results when the prostate gland cells begin to grow uncontrollably and create a tumor. The causes of this are often linked to age and genetics. There is also a link between prostate cancer and diets high in saturated fats. Prostate cancer can be detected through a blood test called the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. Generally, it is recommended that all men over 50 have a PSA test and if anyone in your family has had prostate cancer, you should be tested at the age of 40. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions.
What are some of the symptoms for prostate problems?
Symptoms of prostate problems may include:
frequent urges to urinate,
blood in the urine, and a weak urine stream,
pain in the groin, pelvic area, back or abdomen.
Is there anything else I should know?
The urethra (urine tube) passes through the prostate, and if the prostate is enlarged, it could begin to squeeze the urethra. The pressure on the urethra can lead to any of the problems listed above and or cause more problems such as a urinary tract infections, kidney or bladder problems, etc.
Enlarged prostate can be treated with medication, surgery, or laser treatments.
Some research indicates that a decrease in saturated fats (whole mike products, cream, fatty meats, pizza, sausage) can help prevent prostatic problems.
EARLY DETECTION IS KEY TO PREVENTION! This includes regular annual physicals and PSA tests starting at age 50 or sooner, and if someone in your family has had prostate cancer, these are essential. Let me give you an example to encourage you to see your primary care doctor at least one time a year: "A 46 year old man began to experience lower back pain. He had not visited a doctor in several years. He was an auto mechanic, and assumed that his back pain was related to his normal aging process and the physical labor required to perform his job. The nagging back pain went on for more than a year before he finally decided to see a doctor. Unfortunately, by that time he was diagnosed with advanced stage prostate cancer. He died within 4 years. "
Most men have no idea that they are susceptible to osteoporosis! Just like women, they can suffer fractures and broken bones just doing things they have always been able to do without injury. Why? Testosterone deficiency is a large factor. Testosterone is a major source of estrogen in men, and is important to preserve bone density and build bone mass.
Bone health can also be affected by lack of exercise, lack of adequate vitamin D intake, and lack of adequate calcium --- all of which can lead to osteoporosis. If you smoke, your risk increases substantially, as research shows that smokers are at higher risk of bone fractures. Certain medications can also decrease bone density (corticosteroids, prostate medications, anti-seizure medications).
What can you do to preserve bone health?
It's very important that men (over the age of 40) spend at least 30 minutes a day, 4-5 times a week performing some type of physical activity. Ideally, two of those days should be working on resistance training (i.e., weight training). If you smoke, seriously take steps to stop smoking. Smoking into your later years can affect your heart, lungs and body inflammatory response. Maintain a balanced diet (fruits, vegetables, and fish, chicken) with proper amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
Male menopause is defined as the part of the male aging process where testosterone levels decline. Unlike female menopause, there is no distinct time period -- testosterone decline can last much longer. Male menopause is marked by fatigue, body weakness, mood changes, depression, low energy levels, low sex drive, and weight gain. Male menopause can be detected through blood hormone tests, after other common medical problems are ruled out. Talk to your physician about additional laboratory tests if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. Aging requires many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in order to continue to perform their function within our organs and tissue structures. However, medications, surgeries, stress, and chronic diseases can alter and dramatically decrease our bodies' vitamin, mineral, and nutrient level.
The Bottom Line...
Men, talk to your doctors if you have or are experiencing changes in what is "normal" or if you experience any of the symptoms discussed in this article. Too often, men are reluctant to go to the doctor for help and even more reluctant to discuss their personal problems. Waiting too long can be a costly mistake. The best solution is early detection, so see your doctor today! In addition, remember to get adequate physical activity (30 minutes; 4-5 times per week), eat a balanced diet (9 servings of fruit/vegetables, minimal saturated fat, minimal amounts of alcohol), consume adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium, and spend some time outdoors for daily sunshine (avoid the hot sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.). To live a long, independent, and healthy life, we have to make good choices!
If you are in search of treating your pain and want a pain-free life, contact my clinic at 979-776-2225 to set up an appointment. I promise you that physical therapy can change your life for the better.