Can Your Smartphone Help With Prostate Problems?

Can Your Smartphone Help With Prostate Problems?

One of the most common issues associated with a problem prostate gland is frequent nighttime urination, or nocturia. It is a part of life for most senior men, with nearly 90% reporting at least one episode of the sudden need to urinate in the middle of the night. It can be a bothersome and even serious issue for many.

Now, there is some 21st century help. A technical entrepreneur who was looking for relief from nocturia developed a free iPhone application that he says will help people manage urinary incontinence. Called "iDry”, it helps sufferers record their episodes to help track triggers and causes of their nighttime urges.

What separates this from a traditional health diary is the information it gives back, like how incontinence might be affected by diet, exercise habits, medications and other factors. It was developed in coordination with the National Institutes on Aging. You should not substitute this for the treatment program prescribed by a qualified physician.

iDry is a natural progression of biofeedback therapy that doctors have already included in the regime of treatments for urinary incontinence. The thought is that, along with other treatments, you can stick to a schedule that can actually change your bladder activity, as if reeducating your bladder.

Touchtown Inc.’s Jeff Pepper, 59, suffered incontinence after his prostate was removed in 2009. "After surgery, it's a dramatic thing. All of a sudden, you can't control it," he said. "I never thought of myself as someone who might be wearing Depends," a brand of adult diapers.

He is doing better now, but an estimated 13 million Americans are dealing with urinary incontinence. It's a problem that is associated with aging, but it can affect younger people, too. For men, it's a common side effect immediately following prostate surgery. For women, it most often can be an issue after childbirth.

Because it's not a topic likely to come up in social situations, Mr. Pepper said he found help and support on Internet sites devoted to subjects such as recovering from surgery. He thinks his software, called iDry, can help others.

The software collects and analyzes data to determine the severity of an individual's incontinence, then charts progress in managing it through techniques such as exercise and monitoring food and drink intake. It's much more sophisticated than simply keeping a journal, Mr. Pepper said. The software includes an incident log, charting, intervention reminder and a way to track progress as well as predict when another incident might occur. It has data for more than 200 types of pads and adult diapers.

Mr. Pepper said iDry will analyze the user’s condition based on the number of pads used and fluid volume lost over different periods of time.

"What people don't know is exactly how to quantify how bad it is or whether it's getting better or not," he said. With iDry, "even if you still have UI, the iDry will still give you some idea about how to make it as good as it can be."

Mr. Pepper said the software can be downloaded free from the Apple App Store for use on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

Nocturia becomes more common as we grow older. As we age, our bodies produce lower levels of an anti-diuretic hormone that allows us to retain fluids. With lower levels of this hormone, we produce more urine at night. Another reason for nocturia among seniors is that the bladder tends to lose holding capacity as we age. Finally, seniors are more likely to suffer from medical problems that may have an effect on their bladder.

Men can experience decreased urinary functions, including a negative impact on sexual desire and performance when prostate issues are not addressed.

Prostate and erectile problems are a common part of growing older for many men. Be sure to take good care of your gums, as well as the rest of your body.

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