[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The prostate is a walnut-sized gland in men’s bodies located below the bladder, near the penis, and just in front of the rectum. The prostate wraps around the urethra, a small tube that runs from the bladder to the penis in order to let urine and semen flow out of the body. It is responsible for the production of a fluid that nourishes and protects sperm. During ejaculation, the seminal vesicles contribute fluid to semen, the prostate squeezes this fluid into the urethra, and it is then expelled through the urethra.
The prostate gland is essential for the reproductive system, but it often causes health problems, particularly in men older than 50.
According to the Medical Encyclopedia of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “an enlarged prostate means the gland has grown bigger. Prostate enlargement happens to almost all men as they get older. As the gland grows, it can press on the urethra and cause urination and bladder problems. An enlarged prostate is often called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is not cancer, and it does not raise your risk for prostate cancer.”
Enlarged Prostate Causes and Prevention
The causes for the development of an enlarged prostate are not fully understood, and prevention is difficult. It is a normal process for the prostate to undergo alterations during men’s lives, but there are factors that influence the prostate enlargement process. Aging and changes in the cells of the testicles may have a role in the growth of the gland. It is known that men who have had their testicles removed at a young age as a result of testicular cancer or other conditions do not develop BPH.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the probability of developing an enlarged prostate increases with age, and it is so common that it is thought all men will have an enlarged prostate if they live long enough. In addition, “a small amount of prostate enlargement is present in many men over age 40. More than 90% of men over age 80 have the condition. No risk factors have been identified other than having normally functioning testicles.”
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Enlarged Prostate
Not all men experience the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, which manifest in less than half of patients and include dribbling at the end of urinating, inability to urinate (urinary retention), incomplete emptying of your bladder, incontinence, needing to urinate two or more times per night, pain with urination or bloody urine, slowed or delayed start of the urinary stream, straining to urinate, strong and sudden urge to urinate, and weak urine stream.
In order to diagnose the condition, physicians analyze the patient’s medical history and perform a digital rectal exam. Additional exams, that may be conducted to understand the extent of the prostate enlargement, include urine flow rate, post-void residual urine test to understand how much urine remains in the bladder after urination, pressure flow studies to measure the pressure in the bladder after urination, urinalysis to check for blood or infection, urine culture to check for infection, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to screen for prostate cancer, and cystoscopy.
Treatment and Prognosis of Enlarged Prostate
Physicians define a treatment plan for patients with enlarged prostate according to the severity of the syptoms, choosing from watchful waiting, lifestyle changes, medicines, or surgery.
Alpha 1-blockers relax the muscles of the bladder and prostate, making urination easier. Finasteride and dutasteride lower levels of hormones produced by the prostate, reducing its size. Antibiotics may be prescribed in the case of BPH with chronic prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate).
Surgical options for the treatment of enlarged prostate are transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), the most common and most proven surgical treatment, and simple prostatectomy.
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