June is Men’s Health Month--a great opportunity to help men know how they can age better, with better urologic health, including kidney health, prostate issues, and concerns related to erectile dysfunction.
Our kidneys are amazing organs. They filter waste and toxins from our blood, regulate our body’s fluid levels, help control our blood pressure and much more.
Taking care of your kidneys improves your overall health, so, here are some key steps to accomplish both tasks.
Chronic Kidney Disease
- Exercise regularly
- Follow a balanced diet
- Drink alcohol only in moderation
- Monitor cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose (sugar)
- Know your family medical history
- Control your weight
- Quit smoking
- Don’t take recreational/street drugs—they’re poison to your kidneys.
- Stay hydrated
- Get an annual physical exam
- Stay current on vaccinations, including a flu shot.
As we age, we are at greater risk for chronic kidney disease, or CKD. CKD is very common—affecting about 14 percent of the US adult population. It’s closely related to diabetes and high blood pressure, and can cause serious complications and contribute to premature death.
To learn more about CKD, my colleague Dr. Reddy has published an excellent blog on the topic
If you have CKD concerns, talk to your primary care provider, or schedule an appointment with a nephrologist.
Kidney stones are also more common as we get older, and anyone who has had a kidney stone will tell you that they can be extraordinarily painful.
Some of the best steps to prevent kidney stones include:
- Hydrate well, consuming at least 80 oz. of water daily.
- Urinate about 2 liters of urine daily.
- Drink lemonade (or other liquid containing real lemon juice). About 6 oz. daily is recommended to prevent kidney stones.
- Have a low-to-moderate protein diet, and a low-sodium diet.
- Avoid calcium supplements, but a normal dietary calcium intake is fine.
- Avoid vitamin c supplements, but normal dietary intake is fine.
- Practice a low oxalate diet.
If you develop a kidney stone, drink lots of fluids and schedule an appointment with a urologist to talk about treatment options. If you have a fever, uncontrolled pain or vomiting, go to the emergency department.
The prostate organ is part of the male reproductive system. The prostate grows during puberty, and then begins to grow again in middle age. About 40 million American men have symptoms of enlarged prostate that affect their overall quality of life, so this is common, but men don’t have to live with it.
Symptoms of an enlarged prostate can include a weak urine stream, frequent urination, getting up at night several times to urinate, etc. A few ways to address these symptoms include:
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, carbonated beverages and spicy foods.
- Decrease fluid intake in the evenings.
- Avoid over-the-counter decongestants such as Sudafed.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and exercise—both for good health and weight loss if needed.
If these measures aren’t helpful, talk with your primary care provider or schedule an appointment with a urologist.
I offer a minimally-invasive, same day surgery called Urolift
that helps improve all of those symptoms and gets men off their medications permanently.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men (behind skin cancer) as about 1 in 7 US men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
Prostate cancer is treatable if detected early. The best way to detect prostate cancer is with a blood test called PSA, along with a DRE physical exam. When men turn 40, they should talk with their doctor about their family history and any other possible prostate cancer risk factors, so together they can determine when screening should begin.
Men with a PSA above 3 should be referred to a urologist to discuss further evaluation. Note that this does not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer or would even need a biopsy, but other tests and evaluation may be needed.
There are also some steps men can take to reduce their risk.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is implicated in more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
- Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. However, dietary supplements haven’t been shown to reduce risk, including multivitamins, soy, vitamins C&E, lycopene and selenium.
For more information, I have published a more in-depth blog about prostate cancer
Testicular cancer tends to occur in younger men, starting at puberty through the 30s. However, any man can develop testicular cancer.
Self-exams are key to identifying testicular cancer at an early stage because a painless lump is usually the first sign. If you notice a lump on or around your testicles, make an appointment with a urologist.
For more information, I have published a more in-depth blog about testicular cancer
Erectile dysfunction becomes more common as men get older; 52% of men above the age of 40 have some degree of erectile dysfunction.
ED can be the first sign of a more serious health problem, such as coronary artery (heart) disease or associated with other conditions that are more common as men age, including high blood pressure, vascular disease, and diabetes. This is because ED is related to blood vessels and nerves in the penis, so a problem there is often a sign of blood vessel or nerve-related issues elsewhere in the body.
If you have ED, general recommendations include:
- Stop smoking
- Lose weight if needed
- Stop or reduce alcohol or other drug use
- Manage your other health conditions that may be contributing, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
If you don’t see improvement with these tips, you should talk to your PCP about starting a medication. Men who don’t respond to medications should see a urologist to discuss other options.
Many men think that the health issues described above are just “a normal part of aging.” While they are related to aging, they’re not something you just have to live with.
To learn more, I recommend this excellent urology health checklist
from the American Urologic Association. It helps men in each decade of life know how to take care of their urologic health.