DEAR DOCS: My parents moved to Tampa, Fla., from New York City, and they need to get an emergency evacuation “go bag” together. Any tips on keeping them healthy when they face their first Florida hurricane?
— Martina B., Hoboken, N.J.
DEAR MARTINA: You’re right to be concerned, because no one ANYWHERE is immune to natural disasters these days. Extreme weather has taken hundreds of lives and tens of thousands of homes in just the past three years. In 2017 with Hurricane Maria, the fires out west and the floods, the financial toll to the nation was about $306 billion. In 2018 with Hurricane Michael, many lives were lost and the floods across the Midwest financially cost our government a staggering $92 billion. This year the losses in the Bahamas and elsewhere from Hurricane Dorian will add up as well.
Despite the dangers, a new national poll found that less than half of people older than 50 have signed up for emergency warning systems to notify them of potential severe weather or other threats, such as tornados. Less than a third have put together a kit with emergency supplies and medicines.
To get started on your own kit, you’ll need a waterproof to-go or evac-bag, and make sure it has wheels — especially if you don’t have a car and have to walk a distance toward safe shelter. Pack the bag with:
• Nonperishable food and water (nutrition bars and as much water as you feel comfortable carrying).
• Enough of your medications to last at least a week (two is better).
• Maps with evacuation routes and device chargers.
• Important documents: passports, birth certificates, insurance policies. Put them in waterproof packages.
• Cash in small bills (at least $100).
• First aid kit and personal hygiene supplies.
• Battery powered radio and flashlight.
• Fresh change of clothes.
And make sure your parents always have plenty of gas in their cars.
DEAR DOCS: I had my yearly physical, and my doc says that I have an enlarged prostate, which is why I have to get up to pee a couple of times a night. He did a PSA test, and everything seems to be OK, so he wants to take a wait-and-see approach until he prescribes anything. I’d really like to sleep through the night. Should I get a second opinion?
— Lester H., Cincinnati
DEAR LESTER: A second opinion can never hurt, and get a third if the first two are conflicting opinions (see a urologist for these two). Also, there’s medication that can help, and there are new procedures that can remedy the problem. But let us tell you a few facts about prostate enlargement.
First, an enlarged prostate is very common among men older than 50, and by age 60, half of all men will have an enlarged prostate, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. By age 85, 90% of guys will have BPH.
Second, if symptoms are mild, doctors will almost always take the watchful-waiting approach. It’s what the American Urological Association recommends. They also recommend lifestyle changes such as not drinking carbonated or alcoholic beverages before bed, and going to the bathroom on a timed schedule, even if you don’t feel the need to go.
If symptoms get worse — say, you have to find a restroom every time you enter or leave a restaurant, and you have to get up more than twice a night to urinate — then you should discuss treatment options.
With a watchful-waiting approach, your follow-up visits should be every six months, and your tests should include a PSA measurement and a urinalysis, which will show if you have any signs of a urinary tract infection. Urinary problems can also be aggravated by over-the-counter medications like decongestants and antihistamines. Make sure you talk to your doc about that and any other meds you’re taking, from BP meds to vitamins.