Archive for January, 2013

Time For A Tune Up-Men’s Health Routine Check Ups

January 8, 2013

Men need to treat their bodies like their cars and visit to the doctor to check what’s under
the hood Men do not usually talk about going to the doctor. Most of the time, it takes serious pain or a major concern to get them to schedule a visit. You may be surprised to know that the urinary tract is most commonly responsible for men’s complaints, as it can bring on problems with obstructive or irritative symptoms. “ ‘Obstructive’ means things like slow urinary stream, difficulty getting the stream to start, difficulty emptying the bladder completely and ‘irritative’ means things like urgency or feeling a strong desire to urinate that you may have trouble inhibiting, having leakage of urine with urge incontinence or nocturia or going to the bathroom at nighttime,” says Dr. Sean Collins, an urologist at East Jefferson General Hospital.

Kidneys can bring on troubles of their own. “Kidney stones can develop with back pain or cause blood in the urine, and the biggest risk factor is not drinking enough fluids when it gets hot outside,” says Dr. Benjamin Lee, a urologist at Tulane Medical Center. The majority of stones are made of calcium but can also be due to recurrent urinary tract infections. “We know that lemonade has a chemical called citrate, which helps dissolve calcium to help prevent stones from forming,” says Lee. It is important to be proactive because if you develop a kidney stone, there is a 50 percent chance you will have a second one in the next five years.

Prostate screenings are vital but keep some men far from the doctor’s office. “Men are intimidated by the rectal examination, but it is not a big deal and takes 30 seconds while the doctor puts a gloved finger in the rectum and feels the prostate,” says Collins. The doctor checks the size of the prostate and whether there is a mass, nodule or hard area that would be concerning and warrant a biopsy. The exam is not anything to be scared of. “Most men leave and say it was not that bad and was worth it if we could find something that could save their life,” says Collins.

Lifestyle choices affect the prostate. “The diet that is best for the health of the prostate is the diet we should be on for cardiovascular health: a low-fat diet, rich in fruits and vegetables,” says Collins. There is evidence that lycopene, a substance found in tomatoes, is good for the prostate. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are also helpful.

Sexual issues are not often talked about by men but are more common than you may think. “We find that erectile dysfunction is a barometer for a man’s overall health,” says Collins. The risk factors for erectile dysfunction are the same for cardiovascular disease. “The reason is the blood supply to the penis is a very tiny artery about two millimeters in diameter, whereas the blood supply to the heart is four to five millimeters in diameter, so it does not take much blockage of the blood supply to the penis to result in impotence,” says Dr. Neil Baum, a urologist at Touro Infirmary.
Thankfully, a lot of progress has been made in this area. “Viagra, Levitra and Cialis are the big advances that totally changed the way the field is approached and who you can help with it,” says Dr. Robert McLaren, a urologist at Ochsner Health System.

Infertility is a common issue with men being responsible half of the time. “If you have borderline problems with your semen, you can avoid hot baths and jockey underwear and should wear boxer shorts because of the excessive heat of bringing the testicles close to the body,” says Baum. A semen analysis can be done at a urologist or reproductive endocrinologist’s office.
Young men may think they are invincible when it comes to health issues but they aren’t. “In young men, the most common thing we see is prostititis, which is an infection or inflammation of the prostate, and some men who are active or do bicycle riding can have numbness of the bicycle area, which can resolve if they cut back on riding or use specialized seats,” says Collins.

Every man responds differently. “Prostate enlargement is a normal part of aging but not everybody develops problems from it,” says McLaren. Know what to expect. “The prostate is a gland that sits outside the bladder and is normally about the size of a walnut,” says Lee.
Robotic surgery has revolutionized the way prostate cancer is treated and gives men hope as recovery is quicker and less painful. “The da Vinci robot has made the greatest impact and there are medications that can shrink your prostate that were not around 20 years ago,” says McLaren.

It is a good idea to get a blood test to check your testosterone level as well. “It indicates a decrease in production of testosterone by the testicles, which can be treated with hormone replacement therapy,” says Baum. You can do a self-exam of the testicles to screen for testicular cancer, which is common in men between 20 and 45. “They look for a little bump or lump on the scrotum on the testicle. I tell men that if they make a fist and feel the knuckle, that is what the testicle tumor feels like and they can get an ultrasound exam and blood test to help diagnose testicular cancer,” says Baum.

Making wise choices is helpful for all ages. “If you want to make yourself healthier, exercise, eat right and do not smoke,” says McLaren. To prevent heart disease, you should stay away from red meat, salt and other high cholesterol-containing foods. Your health may be partly determined by what you eat. “Men who have diets that are low in fiber and do not have regular bowel movements or have firm, hard bowel movements are at risk for colon disease such as diverticulitis and diverticulosis, which is inflammation around the colon that results in cramping, abdominal pain and difficulty with the stool,” says Baum. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids like cold water oily fish, salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines are helpful.

Self-care is important for men of all ages. “It is interesting that in the top seven cancers in the United States, number one is prostate, number four is bladder and number seven is kidney,” says Lee. Thanks to screenings, lives are being saved. “The message we are trying to get out is that many of these issues are very treatable at an early stage,” says Lee. The health-care community has adapted guidelines with this in mind. “The American Urological Association and the American Cancer Society are really trying to get the word out,” says Lee.

This month is the time to take charge of your health. “The most common problems men run into are cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer and colon and rectal cancer, all of which can be prevented by visiting the doctor on a regular basis,” says Baum. A few tests can also be useful. “A stress test checks the heart and blood supply to the heart, a prostate-specific antigen and digital rectal exam rule out prostate cancer and a colonoscopy every five years checks for colon and rectal cancer,” says Baum.

Even if you feel fine, it is important to see your doctor. “Early hypertension has no symptoms whatsoever unless you go to the doctor and have your blood pressure taken,” says Baum. It can lead to a stroke, kidney disease or heart disease if it is not adequately treated. If you do experience any new or unusual symptoms, it is important to report them. “Heart disease can manifest itself as chest pain, indigestion, lightheadedness or headaches, which are signs of high blood pressure and decrease of blood supply to the coronary arteries and to the heart,” says Baum.

Self-awareness is an asset when it comes to protecting your health. Men are often consumed with taking care of their loved ones, however, and end up neglecting themselves. “The main point is that men need to take an active role in their medical care and need to treat their bodies as something very special that needs fine tuning just like their car,” says Baum.

10 New Years Resolutions You Can “Live” With

January 5, 2013

New Years resolutions are made and many are aborted in days or weeks after January 1. Here are 10 suggestions for better health that you can probably keep. If you do, you will probably have a longer and happier life.

1. Celebrate with a friend
People with social connections with family and friends are less likely to experience a decline in ability to reason and remember. Social activity may help preserve your ability to perform your day-to-day activities as you age.

2. Get a pet
People who own pets have healthier hearts and make fewer visits to the doctor. Dogs make better exercise partners than birds, as they want to go for a daily walk.

3. Chew some chocolate
Chocolate is now considered the darling of the heart healthy diet family. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which is a natural anti-oxidant that helps the body’s cells resist damage that may contribute to cancer.

4. Embrace your cup of coffee
Regular or decaf coffee appears to lower the risk of dying from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and pneumonia. Coffee also protects against skin cancer, liver damage, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. One study purported that three cups of coffee a day may protect against Alzheimer’s disease or delay its onset.

5. Wine is wonderful
A glass of either red or white wine is heart-healthy. Even beer is good for the heart. The key to drinking either wine or beer is moderation-one glass a day for women; two glass a day for men.
6. Sex-A little is good, more is better
The damaging myth about older adults is that aging means putting your sex life on the back burner. Sex is good for you regardless of your age if it is safe sex. Sex causes the brain to release endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that act as painkillers and reduce anxiety. Sex also bolsters the immune system. More sex is also associated lower levels of depression.

7. Music is medicinal
Music boosts mood and reduces anxiety and even makes it possible to get a good nights sleep. Studies show that people feel less pain and need less pain medications after surgery if they listen to music while recuperating.

8. Nap like a baby
A mid afternoon nap can improve mood, memory alertness and learning. A 20 minute nap improves alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy. Sipping a cup of coffee before closing your eyes will help you wake up alert. It takes about 20 minutes for caffeine to enter the blood stream, so its effects start to kick in when you wake up.

9 Say hello to nature
Being around nature for as little as five minutes a day can boost your mood and sense of well-being.

10. Select a healthy soap
Soaps that contain antibacterial triclosan, which are no more effective than plain soaps, may be harmful. Washing your hands in warm water with plain soap for 20 seconds will be just as effective as using expensive antibacterial soaps.

Bottom Line: Ponce de Leon scoured the coast of Florida for what he hoped was the legendary fountain of youth. Five centuries later, no one has found the fountain of youth, but we can add youth to our aging process by just adhering to these 10 health resolutions. Happy New Year to all of my friends, family, and followers.

Secrets For the Salt Sensitive

January 5, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-01-05 at 2.52.03 PM
I am a baby boomer and have joined the middle age club. I have a history of heart disease in my family and both parents were hypertensive. As a result I’m very salt sensitive. Salt added to your diet tends to hold onto water and increase your blood volume thus making your heart work harder to pump blood throughout the body. For those of you who have high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, or are just salt sensitive, here are a few suggestions for limiting the salt intake in your diet.

You can easily tick off a list of salty, sodium-rich foods: potato chips, popcorn, hot dogs, pizza, pickles, and more. But there are plenty of high-sodium foods you probably aren’t aware of. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Americans get almost one-third of their sodium from breads and rolls, chicken and chicken dishes, pizza, egg dishes, and pasta dishes. That’s partly because these foods contain added salt and partly because we eat them so often. Here’s another staggering number: up to 80% of the salt in your food was put there by someone other than you.

Why does salt matter? Your body needs a little bit of the sodium in salt to contract muscles, send nerve impulses, and maintain a healthy balance of fluids. But too much sodium can increase blood pressure, make the heart work harder, thicken and stiffen blood vessels, and more. Higher salt and sodium consumption have been linked to increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
How can you avoid these hidden salt mines? Read food labels carefully. Look at both the amount of sodium per serving and the recommended daily sodium allowance percentage. Shop for products labeled “salt free,” or “no salt added,” or “low-sodium.” Avoid condiments such as soy sauce, ketchup, teriyaki sauce, and salad dressings, which tend to be loaded with salt.

Another good strategy is to limit your use of prepared and processed foods, which tend to be made with a lot of salt. Adding more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables to your diet can also lower sodium and increase potassium.
Restaurant foods are often loaded with salt. Many restaurants now offer low-sodium choices. If your food is being made to order, don’t hesitate to ask that it be made without salt.

Use Ms. Dash or potassium containing salt substitutes. (Potassium salt substitutes should be avoided in patients with chronic renal failure) Try filling your salt shaker with a low- or no-sodium salt, or replace it with a shaker full of herbs and spices or a squeeze of lemon.

Bottom Line: Although salt may make food taste better, it can be hazardous to your health. If you are salt sensitive, consider alternatives that don’t affect the flavor of your foods but do protect your heart and lower your blood pressure.

Sweets Are Bad For More Than Your Teeth- May Raise Prostate Cancer Risk

January 2, 2013

ImageImage

 

A recent report showed that sugary soft drinks may increase men’s risk for prostate cancer, according to the results of a study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden said they followed over 8,000 men aged 45 to 73 for an average of 15 years and found that those who drank one can of a soft drink a day were 40 percent more likely to develop more serious forms of prostate cancer.  In addition, the study team found that those whose diet was heavy on rice and pasta increased their risk of getting milder forms of prostate cancer, which often required no treatment, by 31 percent, and those whose intake of sugary breakfast cereals was high had a 38-percent increased risk for milder forms of the cancer.

 

Bottom Line: In addition to red meat which has been demonstrated to increase the risk of prostate cancer, this study suggests it is also prudent to reduce your consumption of sugary soft drinks and sugary breakfast cereals.