Enlargement of prostate could be a contributing factor for urinary problems in men, as they grow older. This write-up provides information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of an enlarged prostate gland.
The prostate gland is a part of the male reproductive system. It is located beneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra. Medically referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the enlargement of this gland is a problem that mostly affects older men. Since this condition is mainly responsible for causing urinary symptoms, older men who have been experiencing symptoms such as weak urine stream, difficulty in passing urine, etc., must seek medical assistance.
BPH is the non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. This gland performs the function of converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The cell growth in the tissues of the gland could be caused due to the stimulation by DH or exposure to hormones.
The enlargement of this gland could occur due to an increase in the level of estrogen. In men, urine flows from the bladder through the urethra. This gland surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that passes urine from the bladder. Therefore, people affected by this condition experience urinary problems.
When the gland becomes enlarged, it exerts pressure on the urethra, thereby causing it to become narrow and obstructing the flow of urine. Therefore, the affected person experiences difficulty while passing urine.
Under such circumstances, the bladder has to contract in order to force out the urine. Such forceful contractions might make the bladder very sensitive. So, the bladder might contract if there is even a small amount of urine in it. The symptoms of this condition might include:
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Weak urinary stream
- Urgency to urinate
- Dribbling at the end of urinating
- Waking up at night to urinate
Incomplete emptying of the bladder could also make the person vulnerable to urinary tract infections. Painful urination or blood in urine could be indicative of urinary infections.
Men who have been experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms must consult a urologist. Besides studying the patient’s medical history, diagnostic procedures such as blood tests and urinalysis will also help the doctors confirm the diagnosis. Since prostate cancer can also cause such symptoms, a prostate antigen test will be conducted to check for prostate cancer. Prostate exam, digital rectal examination, pressure flow studies, and post-void residual urine tests will also help in evaluating whether the person is affected by this condition or not.
The treatment options that may be recommended by a urologist will depend on the severity of the symptoms. The treatment options include surgical as well as non-surgical measures. Certain steps can be taken to alleviate the symptoms. Men who have been diagnosed with this condition must not drink a lot of fluid at one go. Spreading out fluids throughout the day would be helpful. You must do away with the habit of drinking fluids before bedtime, otherwise you might have to wake up at night for passing urine. Performing pelvic strengthening exercises will also prove beneficial.
Drugs such as alpha 1-blockers might be recommended, as these relax the muscles of the bladder neck and prostate, thereby facilitating easier urination. Though medicines such as finasteride and dutasteride might help reduce the size of the gland, their use has been associated with certain adverse effects.
An inflamed prostate or an infection in the gland might be treated with the help of antibiotics. If medications are not helpful in alleviating the symptoms, doctors might recommend surgery. Though this condition is common in older men, this condition could affect young men also. Young men who have been diagnosed with this condition could be treated using less invasive procedures.
Transurethral needle ablation, water-induced or microwave thermotherapy, or laser method can be used to destroy the prostate tissue. The most commonly used surgical procedure for treating this condition is transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). A simple prostatectomy is another procedure in which just the inner part of the prostate is removed.
Though an enlarged prostate doesn’t put one at a risk of developing prostate cancer, complications such as acute or chronic urine retention could arise. Since this condition mostly affects the men above the age of 50 years, older men who have been experiencing urinary symptoms must consult a urologist.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.