February, 14, 2019
3 Less Frequently Discussed Conditions that Can Affect Men’s Health
Gentlemen – the more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to take your health seriously.
Many men are aware of the more commonly known conditions that can affect their health over the lifespan – heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and prostate cancer, to name a few. But there are plenty of other medical concerns that can affect a man's health, and these conditions don't always get the attention they should. These three lesser-known can absolutely impact the health of men:
Bladder Stones: Hard pieces of mineral buildup in the bladder, bladder stones develop when the urine inside the bladder is extremely concentrated. This causes the minerals in the urine to crystallize and bind together. One reason why bladder stones are not a very frequently discussed men’s health topic is that they don’t always make themselves known to the person they are affecting. However, when bladder stones do cause symptoms, they can range both in the type of symptoms that present as well as the severity of how they are felt by the person experiencing them. Some bladder stone symptoms include pain in the lower abdominal area, changes in urinary habits (frequency, pain or difficulty) and bloody or cloudy/dark-colored urine. In some men, bladder stones can also cause pain or discomfort in the penis. One of the most basic and impactful ways to prevent the development of bladder stones is to empty the bladder as frequently and entirely as possible. And of course, one of the best ways to ensure this is to drink enough water throughout the day. The ability to empty the bladder completely can be difficult for some men. Those who have an enlarged prostate, bladder or pelvic nerve damage or inflammation or problems with their kidneys can be at a higher risk for developing bladder stones. When bladder stones are small enough, they don't typically require medical intervention and often will pass on their own. But when bladder stones become very painful, a medical professional may be necessary to help remove them. The removal of bladder stones is done either through surgery or by a procedure called cystolitholapaxy. But no matter which way they go, they've gotta go, and proper treatment of bladder stones is crucial. When not appropriately treated or otherwise ignored bladder stones can turn into chronic bladder dysfunction and frequent urinary tract infections.
Runner’s Hematuria: The word hematuria is a fancy medical term that means ‘blood in the urine.’ While just about anyone can experience blood-tinged urine at some point in life, the chances are higher in people who frequently engage in vigorous exercise. In fact, long-distance runners are especially prone to developing hematuria. Scientists don't yet definitively know why strenuous exercise can cause blood to show up in a person's pee, the presumption is that there may be trauma to the bladder, a disruption in the body’s fluid balance, or a breakdown of blood cells with mile-after-mile of running. To help prevent hematuria from occurring, some physicians suggest emptying the bladder about half an hour before setting out for a long run, with the goal of retaining a small amount of urine in the bladder during the run. The notion of keeping the bladder at least partially occupied with urine is that it may act as a "cushion," helping to protect the walls of the bladder from the trauma of the run. However, no matter what is causing it, any time you have blood in your urine, it 100 percent warrants a call to the doctor. There are simple tests that can rule out more severe hematuria causes - conditions like kidney stones and specific cancer types.
Varicocele: Another significant medical term, ‘varicocele’ is defined as a group of varicose or enlarged veins inside the male scrotum. Varicoceles develop over time and behave similarly to varicose veins in the legs. But, the chief difference is that a varicocele can sometimes be associated with a reduction in sperm quantity and quality. So, especially for men who are trying to conceive a child with a partner and having trouble doing so, the potential of a varicocele will be evaluated. However, not every varicocele is accompanied by, and they don't all lead to fertility problems either. So even if you or a man you love is diagnosed with one, it may not require treatment. Science has yet to prove that there are risk factors associated with "living with" a varicocele, but if the condition is causing any uncomfortable symptoms or otherwise affecting optimal fertility, treatment options are available. One treatment option is surgery. Surgical repair of a varicocele 'seals off' the affected vein while redirecting blood flow into normal or otherwise unaffected surrounding veins. This type of procedure would be indicated for men experiencing testicular pain, testicular atrophy (a testicle that gets progressively smaller) and infertility.
Although the conditions mentioned above aren't necessarily "common" for all men, arming yourself with knowledge is always a good thing. You know what's even better? That annual physical. It can help you prevent or address early a wide range of health conditions that can become dangerous or even life-threatening when otherwise ignored.