DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Please write something about bladder infections. Can you have a bladder infection with no symptoms? — A.
ANSWER: The signs and symptoms of bladder infections are the same for men and women. The irritated, infected bladder demands frequent, urgent trips to the bathroom so it can be emptied. People have a burning sensation when passing urine. Pain is felt in the bladder area. Sometimes blood appears in the urine.
Men have far fewer bladder infections than women. Women have a shorter urethra than men. The urethra is the tube that empties the bladder of urine. Women’s urethras open in an area that has a large bacterial population. Bacteria can ascend the female urethra without trouble. It’s harder for them to climb the male urethra. And men’s prostate glands secrete substances that have antibacterial properties.
The presence of bacteria in the urine without any signs of bladder infection is called asymptomatic bacteriuria. Doctors treat pregnant women with asymptomatic bacteriuria to prevent symptoms from arising, as they often do during pregnancy. Infected urine, even without symptoms, can lower the birth weight of babies who were in the uterus during that period.
Otherwise, asymptomatic bacteriuria in women or men, at any age, usually does not require treatment. In women, bacteria in the bladder are often transiently there. They disappear many times on their own. Treatment can lead to the development of resistant bacteria and can produce side effects. Furthermore, it is costly. The guidance from most experts, therefore, is not to treat asymptomatic bacteriuria.
Exceptions exist. Diabetics might benefit from treatment.
The topic of urinary tract infections and their treatment are covered in the booklet on that topic. Readers can order a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue — No. 1204W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853- 6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I would like to know why you lose flesh with age, but not bone, nor skin, nor fat. One doctor told me that’s why people get colder when they get older. I am rapidly losing flesh. — L.J.
ANSWER: People lose muscle with age. The process is called sarcopenia (SAHR-coe-PEA-knee-uh). I never thought of it until you brought it up, but it could be a reason why older people chill quickly. Muscles generate heat, and they serve as insulation. Shivering is a response to a cold environment. Shivering muscles give off heat.
Lots of unpleasant things happen with aging. Metabolism slows, and that’s another reason why older people complain of the cold. Our bodies don’t repair themselves as well as they did when we were young. Bones do lose strength and size with age. Growing old is not for the faint of heart.
Sarcopenia and bone loss can be kept to a minimum and possibly reversed if people exercise. The kind of exercise they must do is “resistance” exercise — lifting weights. It sounds nutty, but it’s for real. Weights don’t have to be of the same magnitude that people use to prepare for a bodybuilding contest. You can start with one-pound weights and gradually increase the poundage when you become comfortable with that amount of weight.
©2010 North America Synd.