Causes, symptoms and treatments for an enlarged prostate

November 12, 2012

Causes, symptoms and treatments for an enlarged prostate

The prostate is a gland, which produces a fluid that carries the sperm during ejaculation. An enlarged prostate can cause pressure on the urethra leading to urination or bladder problems. An enlarged prostate is more common as men get older and it does not affect their risk of developing prostate cancer. Although the direct cause of an enlarged prostate is unknown some of the contributing factors include aging and links to the testicles. It is such a common condition that some people believe that every man will develop it as long providing they live long enough with over 90% of affected men being over the age of 80. Symptoms of the disease can appear but they are only present in less than half of all men with an enlarged prostate. These symptoms can include:

  • Dribbling after urination

  • Inability to urinate

  • Inability to completely empty the bladder

  • Frequent need to urinate

  • Incontinence

  • Painful urination

  • Delayed start to the urinary stream

  • Weak urine stream

  • Straining to urinate

  • A strong and sudden urge to urinate

There are a number of test that may be performed by your doctor in order to diagnose the disease or to see if it is getting worse. The first exam will be a digital rectal exam and this may be followed by tests into urine flow rate, bladder pressure during urination, a crystoscopy and a PSA test to check for prostate cancer. There is also a form you may be required to fill in about the severity of your symptoms. This can be used to find out if the symptoms of the enlarged prostate are getting worse by comparing it to your previous answers.

Depending on your symptoms and how badly they interfere with your daily routine, there are a number of choices of treatment including life style changes, medication and surgery. In most cases, symptoms are mild enough that home care or treatment is adequate. For example urinating as soon as you need to, never try to hold it or wait for long can reduce symptoms, as can avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evenings and drinking a lot of fluids at one time. If possible, avoid drinking anything within a couple of hours before going to bed. It is thought that regular exercise and keeping warm can reduce the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, as well as avoiding over the counter cold and sinus decongestants and antihistamines. Performing kegel exercises strengthens the pelvic muscles reducing symptoms and avoiding stressful situations can also be beneficial.

Severe symptoms such as incontinence or blood in the urine may require surgical treatment. Also if you have bladder stones, kidney failure or recurrent urinary tract infections your doctor will probably recommend surgery. The kind of procedure you have will depend on the size and shape of the prostate gland and the severity of the symptoms you are experiencing. The most common procedure is known as TURP, full name Transurethral resection of the prostate and involves inserting a scope inside the penis and removing the prostate piece by piece. This procedure has a very high success rate with patients normally seeing a great improvement in symptoms and urine flow rate.

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