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Prostate and Urological Health

Don’t Let Your Prostate Health Slip Under the Radar

Gina Powley, MSN, ANP-BC

President, Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates (SUNA)

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our world has been turned upside down. We’re social distancing, wearing masks in public, and limiting the amount of people at gatherings. People who are considered at-risk for serious complications from COVID-19 are asked to stay home. How is this affecting their healthcare?

Prostate and urologic health shouldn’t be put on the backburner during this time. As a urologic healthcare provider for the past 26 years, I have seen many changes in medicine. However, over the past eight months, during this pandemic, healthcare has changed dramatically.

Two options

Teleheath visits were something discussed but never implemented in the urologic setting until COVID-19 stay-at-home orders were announced. Recognizing that patients still need care, providers quickly realized telehealth was the safest way. Thus, physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants began offering telehealth for routine visits, and the option has now become mainstream. 

If you’re a patient, I urge you to take advantage of the virtual appointment format to discuss any symptoms, request medication refills, and get other questions answered while staying safe.

Telehealth visits can be conducted over Zoom or Skype. This allows your provider to have a face-to-face discussion with you. If you don’t have this technology, a simple phone call will suffice. 

Prostate and bladder health affect the aging population more than any other group. I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is for you to continue your annual prostate cancer screenings, take prescribed medications for an enlarged prostate (also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH) or other urologic conditions, and discuss any change in symptoms with your healthcare provider.

That said, in-person, face-to-face visits may still be necessary for some conditions, such as evaluation for cancer, difficulty with urination, and kidney stones.

Other positive news: Elective surgeries were limited during the beginning of the pandemic, but most are now being performed. If cases of COVID-19 rise in the future, these elective procedures may be limited once again, so it’s important to not delay your routine visits or ignore new symptoms.

If you need to come into the office for a visit, you will find a very different setting. Offices are respecting social distancing by limiting the number of people in waiting rooms. Everyone is wearing personal protective equipment. Exam rooms are thoroughly cleaned between each patient, creating a safer environment for those who need an in-person visit.

Healthy lifestyles

Protect your urologic health by eating a heart-healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly. Get plenty of rest, limit screen time, and avoid tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. 

Take time for your mental health as well. Reduce stress triggers, focus on positive thoughts, and keep connected with others via email, text, phone calls, and FaceTime when you are unable to see them in person.

These have been challenging times for our country and our world, however, being diligent about your healthcare and doing everything you possibly can to guard your health is still very much in your control. Following up with your healthcare and developing a positive relationship with your providers will boost your spirits and leave you feeling empowered.

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