Benign prostatic

November 12, 2012

Benign prostatic

Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a condition involving the male prostate gland and is one which occurs most frequently in men over sixty years of age. As men age their prostate gland may become enlarged and compress the urethra causing an obstruction to the flow of urine, this enlargement, or benign prostatic hyperplasia, is, however, harmless and may not induce symptoms for some time.

The symptoms

Once symptoms begin to appear they may be varied and include some, but not necessarily all, of the following -

  • Difficulty starting to urinate – even with a full bladder

  • Incomplete emptying of the bladder

  • Weak or intermittent urinary flow

  • Increased need to urinate – especially at night.

  • Sudden urgency to urinate – sometimes resulting in urge incontinence

  • Terminal dribbling of urine when finished.

  • Burning or pain when passing urine.

Of course just as different men will experience a different variety of symptoms it is also safe to say that the presence of one or more of the listed symptoms will not necessarily mean the presence of benign prostatic hyperplasia. If you are experiencing difficulty urinating then it is always wise to seek the advice of your medical practitioner.

The complications

If the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia are ignored then it is possible that complications may arise -

  • Acute sudden onset urine retention which is extremely painful and requires immediate medical attention which will involve using a catheter to drain the bladder.

  • Chronic urine retention – a result of increased difficulty in fully emptying the bladder.

  • Repeated bladder infection

  • Bladder stones.

Once you have attended your GP with your symptoms he or she may want to do a physical examination – including a rectal examination which will help to determine of benign prostatic hyperplasia is present. Patients may also be asked to keep a record of fluid intake and output over a period of several days. Urine and blood tests will be carried out to check for infection and kidney function as well as to discover whether the blood has a raised prostate specific antigen level – which may indicate increased risk of prostate cancer in which case a biopsy may be carried out.

Specialised tests for benign prostatic

Further more specialised tests for benign prostatic hyperplasia could include -

  • X-rays, ultrasound

  • Urine function tests – flow rate, retention levels.

  • Further blood tests.

It is now possible to receive a full prostate check at the doctors’ office or the hospital.

The treatment

Treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia is only really necessary if there are any complications or if the symptoms are proving problematic for the patient – for this reason a ‘wait and see’ approach is often adopted. Treatments have both advantages and disadvantages and the final decision on the way forward will be made by the patient with the help of his medical practitioner.

Generally there are two types of medicinal treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia both of which have been seen to improve urinary function in sufferers.

  • Alpha blockers – help to relax the muscles and therefore reduce urine flow obstruction however they do not reduce the size of the prostate.

  • 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors do inhibit prostate growth and reduce the size of the gland but may take many months to become fully effective.

If the drug regime is proving ineffective and the symptoms are becoming more problematic then it may be that surgery is the next step although other treatments are beginning to become available as technology improves.

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