DISEASES OF ELDERLY MEN
It is commonly believed that menopause only affects women in old age. Male andropause is the equivalent of female menopause and characterized by a decline in testosterone levels in men. It usually starts after the age of sixty when many metabolic changes occur in men’s bodies. Men’s organs do not function as they used to and they are beset by a number of male-only disorders and diseases such as those related to the prostate gland.
The changes are sometimes invisible to the naked eye and the affected men do not get any symptoms. Particular attention and careful observation of your body functions is necessary by all older gentlemen, even those who have not had any history of medical weaknesses. Men’s diseases are easy to miss due to busy lives and the habit of ‘toughing it out’ of everyday affairs. However, their effects are often extensive and considerably limit the life of a senior, leading to an early death.
Cardiovascular Problems: The Secret Killer of Men
Men’s heart and the vascular system are prone to a number of diseases and problems. Men are not protected by estrogen to the same level that it protects women against coronary heart disease and heart attacks. Obesity, lack of physical activity and a stressful lifestyle can have a much more severe effect on the male body and impairs the work of the male heart. Each heart attack reduces the capacity of the heart muscle to perform, worsens its contraction force and limits the amount of physical activity that can be performed by the affected person.
The risk of post-infarction convalescence increases with age and it is particularly long and difficult in seniors. Caregivers of patients with coronary artery disease must pay special attention to any symptoms that suggest another heart attack episode. They must be trained to provide timely medical help for their patient.
Symptoms of cardiac arrest include chest pain on the left side or pain radiating to the shoulder, left arm or abdomen. Further symptoms include a feeling of breathlessness, palpitations, anxiety and fading or loss of consciousness. Patients with diabetes may not even feel the pain due to diabetic neuropathy – a condition that leads to impaired function of the nerve fibres conducting the sensation of pain.
What Else Threatens An Older Man?
Atherosclerosis, or vascular narrowing as a result of plaque deposition, causes not only heart problems but can also lead to serious impairment of blood flow to the brain. Blockages due to vasoconstriction can cause strokes and severe neurological conditions characterized by sudden onset of loss symptoms. These include facial muscle paralysis, indistinct speech and impaired vision or limb paralysis. Strokes are much more serious in old age because the patient rarely returns to full fitness and the condition prior to the disease.
The stroke patient often suffers from paralysis of the limbs, loses the ability to move independently and is unable to communicate with the surroundings due to the loss of the speech function or its understanding. Another common complication is the loss of sphincter function and the lack of control over urination and defecation.
A Crafty Tumour
Some of the most common oncological diseases among men include lung cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. The first of these usually affects long-term smokers and the initial symptoms include coughing or bloody secretions during coughs. Colorectal cancer is a particularly dangerous cancer which affects the digestive system. Symptoms include diarrhoea or constipation, weight loss, loss of appetite and blood in the stool. Any unexplained gastrointestinal discomfort that persists in older men for more than two weeks must be checked up to detect the possibility of colorectal cancer.
The last type of cancer to affect men predominantly is prostate cancer. The incidence of its occurrence increases significantly with age. It is estimated that prostate cancer can be found in nearly 70% of men over eighty. The development of this cancer is slow and affects are not life threatening directly for a senior. One symptom of prostatic cancer is that the patient may find it difficult to urinate, forcing them to repeatedly use the toilet overnight.
Usually, this type of cancer is not treated radically with surgery and medical is prescribed to ease suffering. This is meant to improve the patient’s life comfort and not burden him with risky operations or numerous side effects of chemotherapy.