For a normal man at age 20, the prostate is like the size of a crab apple. As man progresses in age, however, there is an overgrowth of the organ tissue. Many times, this issue is due to reduced apoptosis (normal cell death), not abnormal cell production (which causes cancer).
This is called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, which causes the prostate to double in size by age 70. In some men, the enlarged prostate pressurizes the urethra. This affects the flow of urine as the bladder does extra work to get urine through the constricted tube. In time, the bladder becomes stressed, which creates a thickened wall. As a result, the organ will no longer store urine effectively.
Risk Factor for Enlarged Prostate?
For most men above age 50, BPH is the most common prostate problem. Records have it that almost 14 million men in the U.S. have lower urinary tract symptoms.
In many adult males, aging and testosterone (the principal male sex organ) is the primary reason for an enlarged prostate.
All men have estrogen, the female sex hormone, in minute quantities. An alteration in the balance of estrogen and testosterone in men also increases the chances. Other risk factors are:
- Men above 50 years
- Abnormality with the testicles
- Diabetes and heart disease increases the risk of prostate cancer.
- Heredity – a family with a history of an enlarged prostate
- Nationality – American and European men are more susceptible.
Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate
Common signs of an enlarged prostate are:
- A desperate urge to urinate
- Difficulty starting and sustaining urination
- Excess urination at night
- Weak urine stream – a stream that does not flow well
- Difficulty emptying the bladder completely
Other less common symptoms and signs are:
- Inability to urinate
- Urine with blood
- Urinary tract infection
Bear in mind that your prostate size is not a factor of the severity of your symptoms. Men with a slightly enlarged prostate might have pronounced symptoms. Yet, other men with a significantly enlarged prostate could have minor signs.
Possible Causes of Enlarged Prostate
The enlarged prostate is seen as a normal aftereffect of aging in men. It is not surprising that it is common in men above 80 years. In addition to the risk factors discussed, a few of the causes are:
- Prostatitis – Inflammation of the prostate
- Urinary tract infection
- Shrinking of the urethra
- Kidney or bladder stones
- Issues with nerves in charge of the bladder
- Prostate or bladder cancer
Men that have removed their testicles at a young age hardly develop prostate enlargement.
Treatment for Enlarged Prostate
You can treat enlarged prostate with three main options:
- Lifestyle changes
You might have an enlarged prostate without any severe symptoms. Most time, an enlarged prostate develops slowly without getting worse. Here are some lifestyle changes that can help your symptoms:
- Less consumption of caffeine, fizzy drinks, and artificial sweeteners. These drinks can irritate the bladder.
- Less water intake in the evening. It reduces your chance of getting up at midnight.
- After urination, wait and try to go again. The aim is to empty your bladder.
- Make sure you are not taking any medications like decongestants or depressants that might worsen your symptoms.
- Excess weight might worsen your symptoms. Consider helpful ways to keep your weight down.
- An active lifestyle via exercise can help your symptoms.
Medications for Enlarged Prostrate
Several FDA-approved drugs relieve the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. They all have their distinct mode of operation. Some medications might completely halt the prostate cell growth or shrink the enlarged prostate.
Medication is a good call for lots of men as the change in symptoms is significant. Two common medications are alpha-blockers and 5-Alpha reductase inhibitors.
These tablets relax the muscles of the prostate, making it easy to urinate. While it doesn’t cure the prostate, it relieves the symptoms.
Alpha-blockers are effective and work within a few hours of days of taking them. The doctor might recommend a higher dose if it doesn’t work.
Alpha-blockers come in various forms. Their goal is the same – to manage the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Common ones are:
- Doxazosin like Doxadura
- Alfuzoxin like Besavar
- Tamsulosin like Pinnexel, Flomax Relief, etc.
Expect minor side effects like a blocked nose, nausea, fatigue, etc. with these medications.
5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors
These drugs reduce male hormones (dihydrotestosterone) in the body by decreasing the prostate size. While these drugs take longer than alpha-blockers, users get an improvement in flow after three months. There will be a significant improvement in urination ability, reducing the need for prostate surgery.
Examples of such drugs are:
- Finasteride like proscar
- Dutasteride like Avodart
Users should expect a few side effects like erection issues, low semen production, and reduced libido.
Blood test for Prostate Issues
Blood tests is one of the tests that can detect issues with the prostate. A blood test can check if the kidneys are working correctly. Also, the test could be a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. PSA is a protein produced cell in your prostate.
A raised PSA level might indicate issues with your prostate. If your prostate is enlarged, it will shoot up the amount of PSA in the blood.
Other factors responsible for elevated PSA levels are age, infection, prostate cancer, or inflammation. PSA test for man can also help detect whether a man is at continued risk for prostate enlargement.
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- Editorial Staff, (2018). What Causes an Enlarged Prostate? Retrieved from https://www.healthandwellnessalerts.berkeley.edu/topics/enlarged-prostate/what-causes-an-enlarged-prostate/
- George Washington Hospital. Enlarged Prostate. Retrieved from https://www.gwhospital.com/conditions-services/urology/enlarged-prostate
- Davis J.L (2011). Enlarged Prostate: A complex problem. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/men/prostate-enlargement-bph/features/enlarged-prostate-bph-complex-problem#1
- Daniel, M.D., 2018. What do you want to Know about Enlarged Prostate? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/enlarged-prostate
- Enlarged Prostate. Retrieved from https://www.nafc.org/enlarged-prostate