Having an enlarged prostate is bad news. It is a problem that usually affects older men and causes various symptoms that bring lots of pain and discomfort. Medically known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostate gland enlargement has to be addressed as soon as possible to avoid serious complications that can greatly lower your quality of life.
The Early Signs and Symptoms
There are several different signs and symptoms that can arise if a man develops an enlarged prostate. Usually, the first warning signs tend to be mild but gradually become worse over time, especially if not diagnosed and treated right away.
Below are the common signs and symptoms to watch out for:
- There is a need to urinate more frequently.
- At night, the increase in the frequency of urination is much more severe.
- There is pain or discomfort while urinating.
- There is some trouble starting urination.
- The urine stream is weak or stops and starts.
- It becomes difficult to totally empty the bladder.
In some cases, the following signs and symptoms may also occur:
- There are traces of blood appearing in your seminal fluid.
- Your level of sexual desire or libido is reduced.
- There is difficulty in achieving an erection or sustaining an erection for sex.
- You experience bone pains, particularly around the pelvic region.
- You develop a urinary tract infection.
- You are not able to urinate at all.
If you encounter any of these symptoms, you have to take them seriously. You need to go see your doctor to undergo tests and exams that can help find out if your prostate is enlarged or if you are suffering from some other disease.
There are a variety of factors that can cause prostate enlargement. The following are some possible causes:
Urinary tract infection
A urinary tract infection or UTI is an infection that affects the urinary system, which includes the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra. It more common in women than in men, and it can cause intense pains and discomforts. If it is not treated right away, it can spread to the kidneys and trigger even more severe complications. To treat it, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics, such as trimethoprim, cephalexin, fosfomycin, and ceftriaxone.
Prostatitis is a medical condition characterized by the inflammation and swelling of the prostate gland, a gland that is the size of a walnut found right below the bladder and functions as the male body’s semen producer. Among its symptoms include difficulty urinating, pelvic pain, blood in the urine, pain when ejaculating, and pain in the penis or testicles. To treat it, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics, alpha blockers, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Kidney stones are hardened salt and mineral deposits that form inside the kidneys, and they can impair urinary tract function. People who have them can experience pain in the back, abdomen, or groin, pain when urinating, odd colored or smelly urine, and frequent need to urinate. To treat small kidney stones, doctors usually prescribe pain relievers and drinking lots of water. However, for bigger kidney stones, surgical removal of the stones might be necessary.
Prostate cancer is a common cancer that affects men. In the early stages, it does not really trigger noticeable signs and symptoms, but in the advanced staged, it can make urinating difficult, cause pain in the pelvic area and the bones, and lead to erectile dysfunction. To treat it, doctors usually use surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy.
Common Risk Factors
All men are in danger of developing an enlarged prostate, but there are certain groups that are more likely to have it than others. The following are examples of these risk factors:
The risk of prostate enlargement increases as men age. According to research studies, men who are 50 years old or older comprise the majority of cases of an enlarged prostate. For this reason, it is essential that older men regularly see their doctors to get their prostate checked to detect any abnormalities early on.
Having a history of prostate gland enlargement in the family increases your risk of developing it. If your father, grandfather, brother, uncle, or some other male family member has had it, you have to be vigilant about your prostate health and do regular doctor visits. Also, if there is a history of breast cancer in your family, your risk of prostate problems may rise too.
Being obese makes you prone to plenty of health problems, including prostate gland enlargement. Therefore, you have to commit to making healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy and balanced diet and becoming more physically active, to avoid diseases and prolong your life.
If you manifest any of the common signs and symptoms of an enlarged prostate, you have to go to your doctor at the soonest chance. It is vital that your condition is examined closely early on to be able to treat it before things get worse.
To diagnose prostate gland enlargement, your doctor may conduct one or more of the following exams:
- Blood test – This can determine if your kidneys are problematic.
- Urine test – This can verify if your symptoms are caused by an infection or other issues.
- Digital rectal exam – This is done to check if your prostate is enlarged.
- Prostate-specific antigen or PSA blood test – This tests if your PSA levels are higher than normal, which can be a sign of an enlarged prostate.
Once you are officially diagnosed with prostate gland enlargement, your doctor will advise you to undergo treatment. The type of treatment method that you will take depends on how severe your symptoms are.
♦ 5-alpha reductase inhibitors
These are medications that can shrink the size of your prostate by stopping hormonal changes that trigger prostate growth.
♦ Alpha blockers
These are medications that loosen up the muscles and muscle fibers in the prostate to allow easier urination.
♦ Surgical therapy
This method is typically done to patients who manifest moderate to severe signs and symptoms, and have bladder stones, an obstruction in the urinary tract, traces of blood in the urine, and other complications.