The Growing Problem Of An Enlarged Prostate Gland
The prostate is a gland in the body that produces the fluid which carries sperm during ejaculation. It surrounds the urethra and bladder.
An enlarged prostate represents a prostate gland that has grown bigger than its normal size which is about 18-22 grams.
It is a very common condition and almost every male undergoes through a prostate enlargement as they age. The condition is also called as benign prostatic hyperplasia.
This is not a cancerous condition and does not increase the risk of developing a prostate cancer.
The actual cause of a prostatic enlargement remains unknown. Age is considered to be a risk factor leading to the prostatic enlargement. The process of aging leads to changes in the cellular structure of testicles (which has a role in growth of the prostate gland) and in the levels of testosterone in the body.
Males who have undergone testicle removal at a very young age due to some condition like a testicular cancer do not develop benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Similarly, when testicles are removed following development of a benign prostate enlargement, the prostate shrinks in size.
Common symptoms of prostatic enlargement are:
- Dribbling of urine at the closure of urination
- Retention of urine
- Incomplete emptying of bladder or feeling as if some amount of urine is left in the bladder
- Incontinence or inability to control the urge for urination
- Frequent urination at night
- Pain while urinating
- Presence of blood in urine, in case of an infection
- Delayed start of urinary stream
- Sudden urge to urinate
Diagnosis may be done with a rectal examination to feel the prostate gland.
Another important test that may be required are:
- Urinary flow – Uroflowmetry
- Post void residual urine test
- Routine and microscopic urine examination to check for infection
- Urine Culture
- Test for Prostate Specific Antigen for the possibility of prostate cancer
- Blood urea and creatinine levels
The treatment modality is usually based on the intensity and severity of the symptoms and their effects on the daily life of the patient.
In some cases, watchful waiting is suggested and patient is advised not undergo any treatments if the symptoms are not too bothersome. In certain cases, self-care, medicines or surgery may be required.
Some general steps of self-care for prostatic enlargement symptoms are:
- Urinate right when you get the urge to, do not hold urine.
- Schedule timing for urination and do it even when you don’t feel the need to do so.
- Restrict caffeine and alcohol intake in the late evening hours.
- Avoid drinking too much of water or any other fluids at one go.
- Limit fluid intake 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
- Do not take decongestants or antihistamines without doctors’ prescription as they tend to increase the symptoms of a benign prostatic hyperplasia.
- Keep yourself adequately warm in cold weather as cold temperature tends to worsen the symptoms.
- Keep yourself active and exercise regularly.
- Perform Kegel’s exercise to strengthen pelvic floor.
- Reduce stress and tension as they often lead to increased frequency of urination.
Prostate surgery may be recommended for people who have incontinence, blood in urine, retention of urine, recurrent infections, kidney damage or other bothersome conditions not responding to medicines.
Depending on the severity of the symptoms and the size and shape of prostate gland different procedures can be recommended. Transurethral resection of prostate or TURP is the most commonly performed procedure for a benign prostatic hyperplasia.
In this procedure, a scope is inserted through the penis and the prostate gland is removed.
Men who are diagnosed with prostatic hyperplasia since a long time and the symptoms are worsening over time, are at the risk of developing urinary tract infections, severe damage to Kidneys and presence of blood in urine.
A benign prostatic hyperplasia may recur even after undergoing a surgical procedure. One must contact the doctor in case of less urine output than normal, fever or chills, pain in the back or sides of abdomen or presence of blood in urine. In modern day, medical treatment can help reverse prostate enlargement when started at the right time.
If you have any urinary symptoms like increase in frequency, sudden compelling urge to pass urine, getting up more than once to visit the washroom, poor stream, straining to pass urine, or feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder then you should visit a urologist near you and get a uroflowmetry test and ultrasound to treat this common problem in time.