Whole-person health care can help men thrive with strength, enthusiasm and dignity well into their golden years. But some aspects of men’s health care can be difficult to discuss. This is especially true of urinary and reproductive wellness, which are both part of urological care.
Former President Jimmy Carter’s recent hospitalization for a urinary tract infection — a common issue in older men — points to the importance of early intervention and ongoing urological care late in life.
While discussing the issue may be uncomfortable for some, addressing urological concerns through proper treatment and screenings is crucial to long-term longevity and happiness.
Men’s Health and Urinary Tract Infections
Understanding what happened to President Carter and what it can teach us about men’s health begins with exploring the condition that led to his hospitalization — a urinary tract infection (UTI).
A UTI is “an infection located in the bladder that can cause urinary frequency and urgency, burning with urination, or blood in the urine,” according to Paul Arnold, MD, FACS, a urologist at AdventHealth North Pinellas. UTIs develop when unhealthy bacteria build up in the organs involved in the urinary system. While the risk of UTIs is fairly low in young men, it jumps significantly after age 50.
When caught early and addressed swiftly, “UTIs are very easily treatable with antibiotics,” Dr. Arnold explains. But when left untreated, these infections can spread to the kidneys and bloodstream. According to Dr. Arnold, a UTI may become life-threatening once the infection progresses to other parts of the body and requires hospitalization like the one Carter experienced in early December 2019.
While it can’t be determined for sure without additional clinical information, Dr. Arnold believes Carter’s hospitalization may have been preventable had his UTI been treated sooner.
Carter’s condition is a common one. Life can get busy. In the hustle and bustle of the everyday, it’s easy to ignore small, but persistent health problems or find the time for annual doctor’s visits.
By learning more about when to seek treatment from a medical professional for a urological condition, you can prevent minor issues from developing into complex, hard-to-treat or life-threatening concerns.
When to See a Urologist
Primary care physicians can usually treat UTIs with antibiotics. In some cases, UTIs may be a sign of other urological issues that require more specialized care.
It may be time to visit a urologist if any of the following three statements apply to you:
1. You’re Over the Age of 50
Because the risk of urinary tract and reproductive issues increases significantly with age, it’s crucial that men over the age of 50 see a urologist at least once a year. During these annual visits, urologists perform a physical exam, conduct screenings for common conditions and discuss any additional evaluations or treatment measures you may need to undergo.
2. You Have a Family History of Urological Conditions
If you have a relative with prostate cancer, bladder cancer, ureteral cancer or other urological concerns, you may be more likely to develop these conditions earlier in life than other men. Dr. Arnold recommends that any men with a family history of these issues receive annual urologist exams starting at age 45 to catch early signs sooner.
3. You’re Experiencing Symptoms of Common Urology Issues
In many cases, conditions of the urinary and reproductive systems can be easily addressed when they’re caught early on. However, as urological conditions like infections and cancers progress, they can become more difficult to treat. It’s crucial to identify these issues sooner rather than later.
Telltale signs that may require a look by a specialist include:
- Blood or discharge in urine
- Cloudy, dark, bloody or strange-smelling urine
- Fever or chills
- Genital pain
- Loss of sex drive
- Pain or burning sensations while urinating
- Persistent lower back pain
- Trouble urinating
Common Urological Conditions
Many men experience issues in their urinary and reproductive systems as they age. Below are some of the most common urological conditions that men can develop later in life:
- Bladder, Kidney and Prostate Issues: Includes inflammation, infection, hard masses (often referred to as “stones”) and cancers that develop in the essential organs of the urinary system.
- Erectile Dysfunction: Occurs when a man is unable to maintain or achieve an erection for the duration of sexual intercourse.
- Hematuria: Describes the medical term for blood in the urine, which can be caused by the malfunction of any of the organs of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, bladder or prostate.
- Incontinence: Characterizes uncontrollable and unintentional urination.
- Male Infertility: Involves the inability to cause pregnancy in a fertile female.
Finding a Urologist You Can Trust
Issues like erectile dysfunction, incontinence and urinary tract infections can be tough to talk about, but you don’t have to struggle in silence. With AdventHealth’s whole-person urological care, you can get back to living the life you love sooner.
Urology specialists at AdventHealth are available to listen to your concerns and address your symptoms with compassion and expertise. We’re here to help bring you relief sooner. Find a urologist today to get started.