Telemedicine Treatment Options and Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (commonly called ED) is the inability to achieve and/or maintain an erection that is sufficient for sexual function. This condition affects as many as 20 million American adult men, and is associated with advanced age. Due to the psychological impact of ED, many men with this condition have low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
The Wash Machine Effect
Under normal circumstances, an erection occurs when psychological impulses from the brain and adequate levels of testosterone both allow for a functioning nervous system and healthy vascular penile tissue to produce an erection. This process is similar to the way a washing machine works. The brain is the on switch, the nerves are the wires that carry electrical signals to the pipes (blood vessels), and a valve opens that allows water to flow (arteries carry blood to the penis). After that, the drains shut down (the penile veins close) and water (blood) that is in the tank allows the wash cycle to begin (sexual activity).
With ED, there is a medical, physical, or psychological factor interfering with the erection process. It could be from alcohol consumption, drug use, or from a serious health condition. Basically, there are three main problems:
• Not Enough Blood – There is a decrease amount of blood flow to the penis, from diabetes, chronic, long-term smoking, or heart disease.
• Penis Cannot Store Blood – During an erection, the penis cannot adequately store the blood due to a venous leak or cavernosal dysfunction.
• Nerve Signal Dysfunction – There is an interference with signals from the brain. Diseases that cause this could include neuropathies and spinal cord injuries.
Researchers find that Erection is related to Biochemical Chain of Events
For over twenty years, scientists have known that biochemical factors trigger penile erection. However, until now, they were not sure what was needed to maintain an erection. Researchers with the Johns Hopkins Institute found a biochemical chain of events that is associated with this process. They anticipate that these new findings could result in the development of new therapies for men with ED.
A chemical called nitric oxide triggers erects after it is released from nerve tissues. This neurotransmitter relaxes muscles that allow the blood to fill in the cavernous penile tissue. In a study involving laboratory mice, Hurt and associates (2012) found that there is a complex positive feedback loop in the genital nerves that elicits waves of nitric oxide that keep the penis erect. The investigators report that nerve impulses to originate in the brain sense physical stimulation and sustain the chemical release of nitric oxide during arousal.
Since the basic biology of erections at the rodent level is similar to that of humans, this shows that the biochemical process (called phosphorylation) continues once it is begun. This is a landmark study, according to expert urologists. With this basic biological data, scientists can develop new medical treatments for men with ED who have trouble sustaining an erection. The target of therapy would be the protein kinase A (PKA) phosphorylation of neuronal nitric oxide synthase, such as Forskolin, an herbal compound.
Treatment of ED with Testosterone Replacement
Male hypogonadism is one of the most frequent (but most underdiagnosed) endocrine problems. This condition can lead to erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, and depression. Only recently have doctors been using testosterone replacement treatment modalities for this condition. Men have the option of oral testosterone, scrotal patches, or skin patches. These new preparations have a desired pharmacokinetic form of testosterone that gives the patient a real choice while making therapy easy (Nieschlag, 2006).
Save Money by Using an Online Doctor to Treat ED
In a recent study by the Partners Healthcare System (2007), researchers examined several specific telemedicine applications to define both the financial benefits and the cost of telehealth. For the use of telehealth technology in emergency room settings, the savings would be $537million a year. Correctional facilities could benefit as well, with a cost savings of $210 million annually. Nursing homes could reduce cost by $480 million by providing telemedical services to long-term care residents.
In another study, telemedicine researchers Rojas and Gagnon (2008) analyzed several studies concerning telehomecare cost-effectiveness. This careful review identified cost savings in numerous ways. Teleconsultation and telemonitoring both reduced cost per visit, total cost, and cost per patient. The researchers concluded that standardization of cost outcomes should be implemented in order to allow for a better understanding of telemedicine.
So, could you also financially benefit from an online doctor? The answer is yes! On the average, virtual doctors charge less than traditional office care, because the healthcare provider can eliminate the need for excess staff and billing. Compared to $150 a visit, a typical online consultation runs around $60 a visit. If you have ED, consider consulting a virtual healthcare provider for an online prescription.
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