Although getting older should bring with it an array of positives, a few particular health problems do, unfortunately, become more common at this time. In this blog I explain what these health problems are and offer some advice for dealing with them.
As men get older there is more chance that a prostate problem will develop, though the reasons for this aren’t exactly clear.
The prostate gland is located near the bladder and surrounds the tube through which urine flows. With age the prostate has the tendency to enlarge which can cause symptoms such as frequent urination, the need to go to the toilet at night and the need to pass urine urgently.
Prostate cancer develops when abnormal cells in the prostate gland grow in an uncontrolled way, forming a malignant tumor. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in men in Australia and the third most common cause of cancer death.
FACTORS THAT CAN INCREASE YOUR RISK TO PROSTATE
- Older age. Your risk of prostate cancer increases as you age. It’s most common after age 50.
- Race. For reasons not yet determined, Black people have a greater risk of prostate cancer than do people of other races
- Family history. If a blood relative, such as a parent, sibling or child, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your risk may be increased. Also, if you have a family history of genes that increase the risk of breast cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2) or a very strong family history of breast cancer, your risk of prostate cancer may be higher.
- Obesity. People who are obese may have a higher risk of prostate cancer compared with people considered to have a healthy weight, though studies have had mixed results.
YOU CAN REDUCE YOUR RISK OF PROSTATE IF YOU DO THE FOLLOWING:
- Choose a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins and nutrients that can contribute to your health.
Whether you can prevent prostate cancer through diet has yet to be conclusively proved. But eating a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables can improve your overall health.
- Choose healthy foods over supplements. No studies have shown that supplements play a role in reducing your risk of prostate cancer. Instead, choose foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals so that you can maintain healthy levels of vitamins in your body.
- Exercise most days of the week. Exercise improves your overall health, helps you maintain your weight and improves your mood. Try to exercise most days of the week. If you’re new to exercise, start slow and work your way up to more exercise time each day.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If your current weight is healthy, work to maintain it by choosing a healthy diet and exercising most days of the week. If you need to lose weight, add more exercise and reduce the number of calories you eat each day. Ask your doctor for help creating a plan for healthy weight loss.
- Talk to your doctor about increased risk of prostate cancer. If you have a very high risk of prostate cancer, you and your doctor may consider medications or other treatments to reduce the risk. Some studies suggest that taking 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, including finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart), may reduce the overall risk of developing prostate cancer. These drugs are used to control prostate gland enlargement and hair loss.
High blood pressure
Another issue that men often face when they get older (and women too for that matter) is high blood pressure. The problem with high blood pressure is that it doesn’t come with a noticeable set of symptoms however, if left untreated it does increase the chances of a stroke and heart disease.
High blood pressure is closely linked to lifestyle habits and there are a few things that increase your chances of developing the problem:
- Being overweight
- Getting older
- Lack of physical activity
- Long term sleep deprivation
- There’s a history of high blood pressure in your family
What can you do?
As high blood pressure doesn’t show itself through a clear set of symptoms, to find out your levels you’ll have to complete a blood pressure test. The NHS recommends that all adults over the age of 40 get their blood pressure checked at least once every five years.2 This is very easy to do – just make an appointment with your doctor or nurse or, alternatively, you can monitor your blood pressure with a home kit. If this causes you any concern follow it up with a visit your doctor.
As high blood pressure is so closely linked to lifestyle, making changes here can help you to deal with the problem. This may involve losing weight, exercising more, managing stress and reducing your caffeine intake. If you blood pressure is particularly high then a doctor may also recommend some medication to get things more in order.
- Most of the people are symptomless, others may experience:
- Severe headache
- Shortness of breath
- Severe anxiety
- Feeling of pulsations in the neck or head
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is disrupted. A blockage or the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain can cause a stroke.
High blood pressure greatly increases your chances of having a stroke. High cholesterol and diabetes can also put you at risk.
What you can do to prevent it:
Have your blood pressure checked: Treating high blood pressure lowers the risk for stroke
and heart disease.
Drink only in moderation: Some research shows that a little red wine or alcohol could protect against a stroke, but overdoing it is definitely dangerous.3
If you smoke, quit.
Keep diabetes under control: Follow your treatment plan to manage blood sugar.
Reduce your salt intake: This will help lower high blood pressure.
Exercise regularly: This will help you lose unwanted weight and control blood pressure to prevent a stroke.
If you have diabetes, your body has trouble using glucose (sugar) from your food as fuel. Type 1 diabetes, in which the body’s immune system attacks the cells that make insulin, cannot be prevented. Insulin allows glucose to get into cells.
Read more: best cooking oil for patient with diabetics
Much more common is type 2 diabetes, in which the body doesn’t respond well to insulin. This causes glucose to build up in your blood instead of being used as energy. High glucose levels are damaging to the body.
Many men do not know they have diabetes until they experience symptoms, like vision loss and erectile dysfunction. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, or at least delayed.
What you can do to prevent it:
Eat a healthy plant-based diet: Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish, but avoid added sugars, fats, and salt. Read more: how to cope with diabetics
Check your family history: Diabetes runs in families. Finding out if your parents or siblings had it and what their experiences were like may help you manage your condition.
Exercise to maintain a healthy weight: Diet is one part of staying healthy. Being active is another.
These common health problems for men above 50 can be avoided and prevented, if these steps are taken seriously and effectively. Keeping your body strong and healthy will help protect you against diseases that often affect men as they age. It’s never too late to make these lifestyle changes. They’ll prove to be priceless for not just living longer, but enjoying a better quality of life in your golden years.