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If you find yourself emptying your bladder before you leave the house, only to have to stop three times between here and Madison, you have an overactive bladder.  “Overactive Bladder” is a term we use to describe a strong, frequent, bothersome urge to go to the bathroom.  It is very, very common but it is NOT necessarily a “normal” part of aging.  Sometimes the urge is so great folks have trouble making it to the bathroom fast enough.  That’s called Urge Incontinence and it is at the far end of the wide spectrum of overactive bladder symptoms.

It is really important to bring up these symptoms to your doctor.  The symptoms of having to urinate often and urgently could represent a bladder infection.  If you have any blood in your urine associated with these symptoms you should be seen by your doctor right away.  Cancers can develop in the bladder and sometimes the only symptom is the constant urge of having to void. 

Ruling out something dangerous is usually as simple as an office-based urine test.  Once you have ruled out an infection or other trouble, there are many different reasons to look into about why your life revolves around where the next bathroom might be.

You see, the bladder is meant to have a pretty boring existence.  Ninety-nine percent of the day, the bladder should be spending its time filling with urine.  That’s it, just hanging out.  It’s supposed to wait until it is full before giving your brain the signal that “it’s time to go”.  At that point, you should have plenty of time to get the bathroom without having an accident.  Even if you’re 80 years old, you should have plenty of time to get to the bathroom without having an accident.  You might say “Well, I’ve always been rushing to the bathroom”.  If that’s the case, then we really should talk.  Bad habits can seriously affect bladder function and with early intervention, we can prevent permanent bladder damage.

A lot of different things can interfere with normal bladder function:  volume of fluid intake, type of liquid (Coffee caffeinated/decaf), bathroom posture, bowel function (especially constipation), nerve damage from prior pelvic surgery, other neurologic conditions like Parkinson’s Disease…the list goes on.  Although treatment sometimes requires a medication, some patients do really well with some simple exercises and behavioral modifications.

Fort HealthCare Urology Associates

We’ve all been bombarded by the ads on TV of sad middle-aged men that are tired.  Tired and they can’t get erections and have a decreased libido (sex drive).  Then there’s a promise of a virtual “fountain of youth” in the form of a daily gel applied to the underarm, groin, or shoulders…sometimes all three.  Sad man turns into happy, newly moustached, fully-restored man that can now throw a football again.

Low Testosterone is not a new medical diagnosis, but there just so happens to be four relatively new brands of testosterone gel, all vying for your (or your insurance company’s) dollars, hence the deluge of direct-to-consumer advertisements. 

It’s important to remember that Low Testosterone is a lab value.  If your testosterone is found to be abnormally low and you have symptoms, you could be a candidate for testosterone replacement therapy.  Amazingly, over 25 percent of men prescribed testosterone replacement have not had their blood testosterone levels checked! 

The symptoms of low testosterone include decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, difficulty recovering from exercise, decreased muscle mass, and decreased energy or “get up and go”.  As you can see, many of the symptoms of low testosterone overlap with other unrelated conditions. 

If you’re meeting with your primary care physician for an annual physical, do not assume that testosterone will part of the normal panel of labs.  This is a separate, specific test done only in situations of men that are symptomatic.  If you do have your lab work done, make sure to have your T checked within three hours of waking.  This guarantees an accurate reading when your T is at its highest (there’s a scientific explanation for morning wood!)  Usually there are follow up labs to determine if there is any other correctable cause to the low testosterone.

There are several potentially harmful side effects to testosterone replacement therapy.  These may include fueling the growth of prostate cancer, worsening urinary symptoms related to enlarged prostate, and potentially an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.  The effects of treating large populations of men with testosterone has not been extensively studied.  In addition to the physiological side effects, testosterone gel is usually pretty expensive, so keep that in mind if you’re considering therapy. 

As much as there is controversy to diagnosing and treating men with low testosterone (for good reason) some men truly benefit from carefully directed therapy.

Fort HealthCare Urology Associates

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November is Diabetes Awareness Month!

You’ve heard it countless times before – eat healthy.  Here is one more reason to follow that advice.  Science has proven that if you lose a small amount of weight by eating healthier and being physically active 30 minutes a day, five days per week, you can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

The National Diabetes Education Program, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has developed educational materials for many audiences and in several languages as part of the Small Steps. Big Rewards Prevent type 2 Diabetes campaign. Although there are lots of diet choices and weight-loss plans available, taking small steps to reduce fat and caloric intake and becoming more physically active is most likely to lead to successful weight loss—and helps to keep the weight off as well.

Why is preventing type 2 diabetes so important?
Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot process glucose, one of the fundamental things our body needs to have energy. If undiagnosed or not managed properly, diabetes can be very dangerous. When your body doesn’t make or use insulin properly, it can’t covert glucose into energy in order for your body to function. All this extra glucose builds up in your blood stream, depriving your body of the energy it needs. This results in high blood sugar levels.

Prolonged periods of high blood sugar can lead to a lot of problems. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to:

  • Kidney disease
  • Nervous system disease
  • Amputation
  • Eye problems or blindness
  • Skin problems
  • Heart disease
  • Peripheral Artery Disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Dental problems
  • Stroke
  • Death

Here are some tips for eating healthier and getting you on the road to diabetes prevention:

  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.  A serving is one medium- sized fruit; ¼ cup of dried fruit; 1 cup leafy vegetables; ½ cup raw, cooked, frozen or canned fruits or vegetables.  Buy a new fruit or vegetable during each shopping trip.  Try eating at least one serving of a fruit and vegetable at each meal.
  • Choose water instead of regular sodas or fruit drinks.
  • Instead of fried chicken, try it grilled or baked. Instead of French fries or potato chips, slice a few potatoes, sprinkle them with a little oil, salt, and pepper, and bake them in the oven.
  • Curb your craving for dessert or a sweet snack by eating a piece of fruit.
  • Instead of salty, fat-filled snacks, eat crunchy veggies with low or reduced fat dip.  

You can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes through a healthy lifestyle. Change your diet, increase your level of physical activity, maintain a healthy weight…with these positive steps, you can stay healthier longer and reduce your risk of diabetes.

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