Diet and Kidney Stones – What You Need to Know

Diet and Kidney Stones – What You Need to Know

One in 10 people will deal with kidney stones at some point in their lives. For some people, these stones are genetic and quite difficult to prevent. For others, kidney stones come as a result of poor eating habits. The good news is that once you learn more about the connection between diet and kidney stones, you can make better choices that can decrease your risk in the future.

Staying Hydrated is Key

The number one link between diet and kidney stones is improper hydration. Your body needs fluids to process minerals like calcium that can inevitably become kidney stones, so if you are not getting enough, you are increasing your risk. If you do not drink much water, slowly increase your intake a little each day until you are consuming between eight and 10 eight-ounce glasses a day. If your urine is clear or very pale yellow, you are well hydrated. If your urine is darker than this, you should drink more water.

Salt and Calcium Kidney Stones

Calcium kidney stones are fairly common, especially in men. Fortunately, there’s a way for you to break the link between diet and kidney stones that form from calcium. The best way to do this is to consume less salt. Add less salt to foods you cook at home, look for low sodium products when shopping, and try your best to avoid buying and consuming processed foods. If you eat out often, be conscious of the amount of salt used in certain foods. Most restaurants – even fast food restaurants – will provide you with sodium content if you request it.

Another important tip involves trying to take your daily calcium from your food rather than from supplements. There’s evidence to suggest that your body cannot absorb calcium supplements as readily as calcium found naturally within food. Good options include milk, cheese, and yogurt. Spending a little more time outdoors each day to get your daily dose of Vitamin D is also important; this enhances your body’s ability to process the calcium you consume and helps to break the link between your diet and kidney stones.

Oxalate in your Diet and Kidney Stones

For years now, doctors have recommended controlling oxalate intake to reduce the risk of kidney stones. Oxalate itself is found naturally in many foods, and in some people, especially those who do not stay well-hydrates, the oxalate can form crystals that lodge in the kidneys and become stones. Typically, urine contains chemicals that break down oxalate and allow it to pass through the urinary system without issue. However, when people are not well-hydrated, or when their bodies simply contain less of those chemicals, the oxalate crystals can continue to grow larger and stones can form.

An oxalate-controlled diet may benefit you if you have had oxalate kidney stones in the past. Some of the foods containing the highest concentration of oxalate are nuts, rhubarb, spinach, bran, potato chips, French fries, and others. Your doctor should be able to provide you with a list of foods to avoid or limit as much as possible in your diet to prevent the formation of kidney stones.

The goal is not to simply avoid oxalate altogether since this is virtually impossible. The goal when it comes to managing your diet and kidney stones is to stay hydrated, take your calcium from food sources instead of supplements, and consume fewer oxalate-rich foods.

5 Risks for Kidney Stones You Should Be Aware Of

5 Risks for Kidney Stones You Should Be Aware Of

When it comes to kidney stones, they can be quite painful and cause a lot of problems for those who suffer from them. If you have never had a kidney stone or if you’re someone who deals with them frequently, knowing what the common risks that can cause them is important. Here are five common risk factors that you should be aware of when it comes to dealing with this health condition. If you find yourself on this list, you may want to talk to your doctor about how you can avoid kidney stones or reduce your risk.

Diet Plays a Role

The food you eat can not only play a role in nourishing your body, it can also help in causing kidney stones to form. There are some foods that are called “stone-forming foods” that can cause someone who is prone to get stones to develop them. This can happen no matter if you drink a lot of water to help flush the kidneys. Some of those foods include nuts, rhubarb, spinach and other items high in oxalates.

Other Health Conditions

If you already suffer from certain health situations such as insulin resistance due to being a diabetic or having gout, then you could be more prone to get kidney stones as well. People who also suffer frequent UTI’s, or urinary tract infections, can also be more apt to end up with the painful stone deposits in their kidneys.

Your Genes Matter

You may do everything right as far as eating and drinking fluids, however, your genetics play a major key role as well. This is the most common leading cause of kidney stones. You are more likely to develop a stone or multiple stones if you’re related to people who have dealt with these issues.

Not Drinking Enough Liquid

You need to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of fluid/water every single day. If you are staying dehydrated all the time due to not drinking enough, you can end up with these painful stone deposits in your kidneys. When you don’t drink enough, there is not enough liquid to help flush the kidneys and move the sodium and other nutrients out easily. When that is the case, the sodium can build up and start to crystallize causing you pain.

Obesity

Another factor that is a common cause of kidney stones is being overweight or obese. When you are over the normal weight for your body, you can have a build-up of calcium in the urine. Having a higher BMI is an indicator of someone who is at a higher risk for kidney stones.

These are just a few of the common risk factors that can make you more susceptible to developing kidney stones. Other than genetics, you can help to reduce your risk factors by eating a nutrient-rich diet and reducing the salt and sugar, losing some weight to reduce your BMI and make sure you’re drinking at least 8 full glasses of water every single day.

4 Habits You Should Develop to Protect Your Kidneys

4 Habits You Should Develop to Protect Your Kidneys

Whether you are dealing with diabetes or you’re a healthy person, protecting your kidneys throughout your lifetime is something that should be on your mind. Your kidneys work very hard to keep your body running smoothly and to process the waste and what you’ve taken in. If you’re not eating right or drinking enough fluids, the kidneys cannot work as they should.

Here are four tips and daily habits you need to pursue, if you’re not already, to make sure you protect your kidneys throughout your lifetime.

Keep a Healthy Weight

Eating right and exercising is key in a variety of health conditions, including the health of your kidneys. Maintaining a healthy weight is critical to ensure your kidneys do not work overtime or more than they should have to. Make sure you work on losing the excess weight you may carry so you can get some of the burdens off of your kidneys. Exercise is also great to help burn fat and bring you to your ideal weight.

Drink, Drink, Drink!

You’ve probably heard that you should drink at least eight glasses of water a day. However, are you actually doing that? Probably not! In most cases, people find themselves dehydrated on a regular basis when they think they are drinking plenty. Take note of how much water you are actually drinking in a day. Do you drink at least eight glasses?  Are you making sure that when you’re exercising you are replenishing the fluids you lost? It is very critical that you stay hydrated every day to help your kidneys function properly.

However, it is also dangerous if you drink too much water. Making sure to keep a healthy balance of around six or eight glasses a day is key.

Medications Can Cause Harm

While you can’t always avoid medications, you must be cautious of some of them and how they affect your kidneys. Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen can cause harm to your kidneys if you have to take it on a regular basis. Some of the medications that are taken to help decrease blood pressure can also have a negative effect on your kidneys. Be sure that if you have to take any of these that you have your kidney function tested on a regular basis.

Eat Right

Going along with maintaining a healthy weight, what you eat can have an effect on your kidneys as well. Eating foods that are rich in fiber can help your body digest them and improve your kidney function. You also want to make sure you’re watching your sodium intake as you can cause your kidneys to work overtime. If you are going to partake in alcohol consumption, be mindful that it is not an everyday occurrence. This can also lead to kidney issues as the alcohol can adversely affect the liver making your kidneys work harder than they need to.

Be sure that you are maintaining a healthy diet, getting in your exercise and your fluid intake on a daily basis to help protect your kidneys from damage or life-altering health issues.

Avoid These Foods to Ensure Good Kidney Function

Avoid These Foods to Ensure Good Kidney Function

A primary function of the kidneys is to eliminate waste and toxic matter. As such, it only makes sense that certain foods would put an additional strain on these vital organs. Some foods are more harmful than others, which is why we have compiled the following list of foods to limit or avoid.

#1. Excessive Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient for building muscle. However, the average American consumes far more protein than he or she needs. The ideal amount for adults is one gram of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight. Ensure you do not go over that amount by learning the protein content of your favorite meats and weighing portions if necessary. You should also remember that protein is found in other sources such as dairy, beans, and nuts.

#2. Salt

We all know that too much salt is harmful, yet most of us greatly underestimate the amount of sodium in our diet. Processed foods in particular are very high in sodium, in which case a single serving could put you over your daily limit. Read labels carefully to determine how much salt different foods contain. When cooking, season with herbs and spices rather than salt, and avoid sprinkling table salt on top of prepared dishes.

#3. Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose have been shown to have a detrimental effect on the kidneys. A study performed by nurses showed that kidney function declined after drinking just two diet soft drinks per day. Artificial sweeteners may also cause blood sugar levels to spike, despite the fact that they contain no sugar. This is the reason why the American Diabetes Association recommends using caution when consuming any sugar substitutes.

#4. Genetically Modified Foods (GMO)

Research performed on mice showed that genetically modified corn posed negative effects on the liver and kidneys of rodents. This resulted in liver and kidney toxicity. Soy is one crop that is often modified, and is a hidden ingredient in a variety of foods and “natural” remedies. For this reason, you should be aware of the soy content in everyday foods you buy, as what you are consuming is very likely GMO soy.

#5. Carbonated or Caffeinated Beverages

Caffeine acts as a diuretic, causing your kidneys to work harder than they normally would.  It might also elevate blood pressure, which in turn can negatively affect the kidneys. The effects are even more profound when consuming carbonated, caffeinated beverages such as cola. That doesn’t mean that non-caffeinated sodas are okay, as carbonation in general leads to an increased risk of kidney disease and kidney stones. Water is naturally the best choice to help flush out your kidneys and keep them operating at peak performance.

What you consume on a daily basis can affect your kidneys more than you might think. Consume the above foods sparingly to ensure your kidneys remain as healthy as possible. Even small changes can make a big difference in the health of your kidneys as well as your overall well-being.

Develop these Healthy Habits to Safeguard your Kidneys

Develop these Healthy Habits to Safeguard your Kidneys

Most people take their kidney function for granted-that is, until they develop a problem. Not all kidney problems are life threatening, but they can be bothersome. Develop the following healthy habits to keep yours functioning properly.

Drink Plenty of Water

The most important thing you can do to promote healthy kidney function is to drink plenty of water. Six to eight glasses each day is recommended, or more if you are performing strenuous activities that cause you to sweat a lot. Whenever possible, drink water that has been carefully filtered to remove chlorine and fluoride.

While a certain amount of water is needed, drinking too much can be just as harmful as not consuming enough. Overhydrating causes an additional strain on the kidneys that over time could lead to them malfunctioning.

Watch your Diet

The ideal diet for kidney health is one that is low in sodium and fat.  Limit your salt intake to no more than five to six grams per day, and consume plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber and low in fat.

Drink alcohol only in moderation. Chronic drinking puts an additional strain on the liver, in which case the kidneys will have to work harder in order to filter blood.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

If you are overweight, your kidneys undergo the unnecessary strain caused by removing waste from a larger area. You must maintain a normal weight to alleviate this burden and reduce your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. Eating right is only part of the equation, as exercise is also needed to burn unwanted fat and ensure a healthy blood flow to your organs.

Monitor your Health

High blood pressure and diabetes are two conditions that can have an adverse effect on the kidneys. Those with high blood pressure often do not display any symptoms, so you should not assume that yours is good just because you are feeling fine. Likewise, changes in blood sugar can wreak havoc on the kidneys and lead to long term damage. Have a fasting blood sugar test performed at least once per year, or more often if you have a family history of diabetes.

Limit your Use of Medications

Many medications, even over-the-counter ones such as ibuprofen, can negatively affect the kidneys. You are at an especially high risk if you take NSAIDs or ibuprofen on a regular basis to manage pain. If you can’t do without these drugs, you’ll need to have your kidney function closely monitored to ensure you are not suffering any ill side effects.

Another category of drug that can cause kidney damage is the statins used to treat high blood pressure. This is another reason to keep a close check on your blood pressure, as you are more likely to control hypertension with diet and lifestyle changes when you catch it early on.

Even if you are genetically predisposed to kidney problems, there are plenty of things you can do to keep them healthy. Follow these tips, and you should see an improvement in the way your kidneys function.

Effects of Fluoride on Kidney Patients

Effects of Fluoride on Kidney Patients

Those with decreased kidney function are often encouraged to drink more water. What they are typically not told is that the type of water they are drinking is extremely important. Fluoride in drinking water is an especially big problem for kidney patients-here’s what you need to know.

Your Kidneys: A Natural Filter against Fluoride

Your kidneys act as a filter against many harmful substances, one of which is fluoride. However, your kidneys are also exposed to greater concentrations of fluoride than any other organ or soft tissue in your body. According to the Fluoride Action Network, excess fluoride exposure might contribute to the onset of kidney disease. They base this statement on research performed on humans and animals, which shows that fluoride can have a detrimental effect on kidney function.

Fluoride and Kidney Damage:  A Vicious Cycle

While evidence suggests there is a connection between fluoride consumption and kidney disease, the problem may only be compounded once damage occurs. That’s because those with decreased kidney function may be unable to process even low levels of fluoride such as what is found in drinking water. As a result, fluoride may accumulate in the bones and lead to a condition known as skeletal fluorosis, a disorder that often mimics other bone ailments. Some common signs of skeletal fluorosis include:

  • Bone and joint pain
  • Stiffness in the joints
  • Gastric distress

In more severe cases, skeletal fluorosis may result in a hunched back or more serious problems with posture. We often recommend those who are at a higher-than-average risk for bone disorders have further testing to determine whether or not they are holding too much fluoride in their bodies.

Even Small Amounts are Harmful

Most water supplies contain a concentration of around 1 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride. Although this amount is generally considered safe, kidney patients may nonetheless suffer ill effects even at this low dosage. Properly functioning kidneys can eliminate approximately half the fluoride that’s consumed, meaning that those with renal disorders should drastically limit their intake. Whenever possible, patients should:

  • Filter their water using reverse osmosis or a deionizer. Avoid using activated carbon filters, which remove other harmful chemicals but do nothing to eliminate fluoride.
  • Limit the use of dental products that contain fluoride.
  • Avoid having fluoride treatments performed by a dental professional.
  • Purchase only bottled spring water-just be sure to check with the manufacturer to ensure no fluoride is added during the bottling process. Ideally, bottled water should contain no more than 0.1 ppm.
  • Avoid consuming bottled drinks, as they could be made using fluoridated water.
  • Learn whether or not any medications they are taking contain a “carbon-fluorine bond”, which can lead to a buildup of fluoride in the body. Once common medication is Cipro, an antibiotic often prescribed for bacterial infections.

Some people are naturally more susceptible to the effects of fluoride than others. If you have a family history of kidney disease or are already seeking treatment for a renal disorder, monitoring the levels in your drinking water could be in order.

Overactive Bladder Syndrome: Do you Have it and What can be Done about It?

Overactive Bladder Syndrome: Do you Have it and What can be Done about It?

The average person urinates six to eight times each day. As much as ten to twelve times could be normal if you consume a large amount of fluids or take medication that has a diuretic effect. Many people who pee more times than usual worry they have overactive bladder syndrome, a condition that can lead to urge incontinence. How can you tell whether your frequent urination results from overactive bladder syndrome or another condition? Here are some ways to know.

What is Overactive Bladder Syndrome?

Your kidneys are constantly at work filtering your blood and creating urine from waste products. This urine is not held in the kidneys, but rather passes through thin tubes known as ureters that lead into the bladder. Once the bladder becomes full, nerve messages are sent from your pelvic floor muscles to your brain telling you it is time to relieve yourself.

In cases of overactive bladder syndrome, these signals occur even when the bladder is not full, and may also come on without notice. Sudden urges to urinate often result in leakage, and may even cause you to awaken during the night in order to use the bathroom.

What Causes Overactive Bladder Syndrome?

In the majority of cases, the reason for overactive bladder syndrome is unclear, although heredity is thought to play a role in its development. Some people may also experience it after suffering another condition that affects the nerves or brain such as:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Spinal cord injury or tumor

Diagnosing Overactive Bladder Syndrome

A urine test is typically performed to rule out an infection, which may sometimes result in some of the same symptoms as overactive bladder syndrome. If your urine test comes back clean, we may ask you to consume precise amounts of liquid and then measure the volume of urine you produce in a day. After drinking around two liters or so of fluids, the average person will produce between 800 and 2,000 milliliters in a 24-hour period. Considerably larger amounts could indicate the presence of overactive bladder syndrome.

Treatment Options

In instances where frequent urination is due to a Urinary Tract Infection or UTI, a round of antibiotics will be needed to clear up the condition. In other cases, treatment for overactive bladder syndrome can involve:

  • Weight loss, as extra pounds can place additional stress on the bladder and kidneys
  • Training yourself to urinate only at specific times
  • Medication to help control bladder spasms
  • Avoiding alcohol or caffeine
  • Performing exercises such as Kegels to strengthen pelvic floor muscles

In rare cases, surgery may be used to increase your bladder capacity or to regulate the nerve impulses going to your bladder. More invasive procedures such as these are generally used only as a last resort after other treatment methods have failed to produce desirable results.

Overactive bladder syndrome is typically more of a bother than it is a health concern. That doesn’t mean you should ignore your symptoms, as there are a number of practical solutions to help you obtain the relief you desire.

The Surprising Connection between UTIs and Dementia

The Surprising Connection between UTIs and Dementia

In younger people, the presence of a urinary tract infection can bring about signs such as increased frequency or a burning sensation when peeing. The aging process can alter your immune system, so you may not necessarily experience these same symptoms as you grow older. For many seniors, the first sign of a UTI is actually behavioral changes, particularly for those suffering from dementia. Here’s why sudden behavioral changes could warrant a visit to Nephrology Associates.

Common Effects

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, a condition known as delirium may occur whenever Alzheimer’s patients contract a UTI. Characterized as an “acute confusional state”, delirium ranges from mild to severe, and can include things such as:

  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Malaise, which is identified as discomfort that is difficult to pinpoint
  • Mood swings

In many cases, the first sign of a urinary tract infection is increased falling. Other times, it may manifest itself by unusual behavior such as extreme yelling, cursing, or undressing in public. If your loved one suddenly acts in a manner that is highly out of character, a UTI could be to blame. This is particularly true if there has recently been an increase in the number of accidents or bed-wetting episodes.

Mental Rather than Physical Symptoms

Many dementia patients experience the above behavioral changes, but notice few if any physical symptoms. In addition, the presence of UTIs can often cause dementia to progress faster than usual. Caregivers must recognize that outward changes in one’s behavior could warrant an examination to determine whether that person is suffering from a UTI.

The presence of a urinary tract infection does not necessarily indicate dementia or Alzheimer’s. However, when a UTI is accompanied by a drastic change in mental state, this could mean that person is suffering from undiagnosed dementia.

Preventing UTIs among Dementia Patients

Encouraging an individual with dementia to seek medical treatment can sometimes be very challenging. Patients often refuse help because they believe there is actually nothing wrong with them. As such, it becomes especially important to prevent urinary tract infections whenever possible. Some ways to prevent infections are:

  • Drinking at least six to eight glasses of water each day.
  • Avoiding alcohol, coffee, and tea.
  • Limiting sodium intake.
  • Encouraging regular trips to the bathroom, preferably spaced around two to three hours apart.
  • Having women wipe from front to back in order to prevent bacteria from entering the vagina.
  • Practicing good physical hygiene, to include taking daily showers rather than baths.

Suffering from a UTI? Come See Us

The mental and emotional ramifications brought about by a UTI can be frightening for patients and caregivers alike. If you or a loved one has recently experienced drastic or unusual fluctuations in behavior, we invite you to visit our clinic to find out whether or not a urinary tract infection is to blame. In the majority of cases, clearing up the infection will also eliminate the associated behavioral changes, allowing individuals to begin feeling and acting more like their old selves again.

What Effect Does Sodium Have on the Kidneys?

A certain amount of sodium is required for good health. Unfortunately, many processed and fast foods contain unusually high amounts of sodium, which can have a detrimental effect on numerous organs, particularly the kidneys. How much sodium is recommended, and what levels are desirable for optimum kidney function? Read on to find out the answers to these and other questions.

Recommended Amounts

The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises adults without high blood pressure or kidney disease to consume around 2,300 mg of salt per day. That amount decreases to approximately 1,500 mg daily for those who do have hypertension or kidney problems. Keeping within these amounts is required in order to maintain sodium levels in the blood at between 135 and 145 milliequivalents per liter, the amount recommended by the National Kidney Foundation.

Hypernatremia: High Sodium Levels

Higher than normal sodium levels can lead to what is known as hypernatremia, a condition associated with dehydration. It often occurs whenever people do not consume enough fluids, and there is not enough water to dilute the amount of sodium contained in the blood. Those with a condition such as diabetes mellitus may also urinate more frequently than others, making them highly susceptible to hypernatremia.

While occasional hypernatremia can be remedied by increasing fluid intake, repeated, long-term instances can produce devastating health effects. Too much salt in the bloodstream reduces kidney function, placing them under additional strain that can lead to permanent damage. High sodium levels have also been associated with increased protein levels in the urine, something that is a known risk factor for declined kidney function.

Hyponatremia: Low Sodium Levels

When sodium levels drop below the recommended amounts, it can result in a condition known as hyponatremia. As with too much sodium, hyponatremia can cause extra water to enter your cells, resulting in swelling that can lead to low blood pressure, headaches, and a lack of energy. In severe cases, it may even result in death if swelling occurs in the brain.

Low blood pressure can cause renal problems by reducing the amount of blood flow to the kidneys. Patients with kidney disease should maintain their systolic blood pressure at between 130 and 159, while the ideal diastolic blood pressure ranges from 70 to 89.  Numbers lower than that could result in fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath, in addition to decreased kidney function.

Watch for Hidden Sources of Salt

To carefully monitor your sodium intake, you must be aware of hidden sources. For example, many foods contain sodium chloride, which is actually another name for salt. Other ingredients that may contain sodium include:

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Rock salt
  • Fleur de sel
  • Disodium inosinate (IMP)
  • Disodium guanylate (GMP)
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Trisodium phosphate

Many people have no idea whether their blood sodium levels are within normal range. For these individuals, we recommend a baseline blood test followed by a strict monitoring of the diet to ensure levels remain constant. For more information or to schedule testing, please contact us.

Urinary Retention: What is it and What Should I do about It?

Urinary Retention: What is it and What Should I do about It?

If you have ever felt as though you had to pee but couldn’t, you are not imagining things. Thousands of people are affected by urinary retention, a condition that makes it difficult to fully empty their bladder. How serious this condition is depends on a number of issues, which is why it is important to recognize the symptoms and causes.

Acute vs. Chronic Urinary Retention

Urinary retention may be either chronic or acute. Chronic urinary retention develops over a longer period of time, and is characterized by being unable to fully empty your bladder. If you are suffering from chronic urinary retention, you may:

  • Have difficulty starting a stream
  • Notice smaller amounts of urine than normal
  • Feel as though you still have to go once you are finished urinating

Acute urinary retention comes on very suddenly, and occurs whenever you are unable to pass any urine whatsoever.  It is often accompanied by severe abdominal or lower back pain. This is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

What Causes Urinary Retention?

An enlarged prostate is the most common cause of urinary retention, and is the primary reason it affects men more often than women. When the prostrate becomes enlarged, it presses on the urethra, which is the tube responsible for carrying urine out of the body. Other causes can include:

  • Bladder stones
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Nerve problems such as those caused by diabetes mellitus
  • Herpes and other sexually-transmitted diseases
  • Alcoholism
  • Side effect of certain medications

Diagnosing Urinary Retention

Several methods are used to diagnose urinary retention, including:

  • A physical examination of the prostate area
  • Performing an ultrasound to measure the amount of urine remaining in the bladder after you pee
  • X-rays and CT scans
  • Urodynamic tests to measure how effectively the urethra and bladder hold and release urine

Treating Urinary Retention

To treat urinary retention, we must first determine the underlying cause for it. A number of treatment options including catheterization to drain the bladder or medication to eliminate infection can be performed right here in our office. When urinary retention is due to a side effect of medication, additional drugs may be prescribed to relax the bladder neck muscles.

More serious cases of urinary retention could require a surgical procedure to:

  • Eliminate an enlarged prostate, or remove tumors or other obstructions
  • Widen the urethra so that more urine can pass through (a procedure known as urethral dilation.)
  • Placing stents or artificial tubes in the urethra to keep it open
  • Lift a fallen bladder (a type of surgery often performed on women who are plagued with urinary retention)
  • Insert a special catheter into the urethra (this is called an internal urethrotomy)

Do not avoid getting treatment because you are anxious about having a physical exam or surgical procedure. The sooner you seek help, the less invasive your treatment plan is likely to be. For example, medication can often be used to treat an enlarged prostrate when it is caught early, but surgery might be required if you wait too long.