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31 October 2005
Urinary Problems Need Quick Attention
by George Atkinson

The Mayo Clinic has issued a timely warning that men should not ignore bladder problems and consider them "just part of growing old", when in fact they could be symptoms of more serious disorders.

Their report, in the Journal of Urology, reminds men that as they age, the possibility increases that they will experience problems with urination, but it remains important to get these difficulties seen to at an early stage. "What we know is that many men ignore their symptoms and do not seek assistance with their physician until much later," said study author and Mayo Clinic epidemiologist, Dr. Andrew Rule.

The study involved over 500 men taking two tests - one to determine how much urine remained in the bladder after urination, and the other at the volume of urine expelled. Dr. Rule said that while both tests can be difficult to interpret because they can yield varying results with the same person each time, because the study took data from multiple visits, those variations could be lessened.

The men in the study were aged from 40 to 79.

"What was interesting is that as men aged, their post-void residual [urine left in bladder] increases but eventually levels off," Dr. Rule said. "On the other hand, voided volume decreased as men aged and did so at an increasingly rapid rate. These findings were consistent with the development of a stiff, weak and overactive bladder in men as they age." But not all men were at equal risk for unwelcome changes to urinary function. "Men with signs or symptoms of a prostate obstruction were more likely to have worsening bladder function," said Dr. Rule. "It isn't necessarily prostate cancer, but the prostate's enlargement with aging that gives men greater problems in urinating."

Dr. Rule emphasized that men should consult their physicians if they notice changes in their urination such as a slow stream, straining, and the feeling of not being able to empty their bladders. "What happens is men can end up with a bladder not working, perhaps needing a bladder catheter all the time. They also become at increased risk for bladder infections and even kidney failure problems."

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