Causes and Health Risks Associated with an Enlarged Prostate
A man’s prostate rests right below his bladder, and it’s an organ that is essential to his reproductive health as it’s responsible for producing the fluid component of semen. The majority of men have no problem with their prostate or its function. However, in older age many men may experience an enlarged prostate. This can pose a number of different health concerns, although it is not a symptom of prostate cancer or a precursor for it.
What causes enlarged prostate? The primary answer is that hormone imbalances that come with advanced age cause a man’s prostate to become enlarged, but there can be other factors as well. Enlarged prostate symptoms are especially easy to identity in comparison to other men’s health conditions, and we’ll discuss them in detail here as well as highlight the best enlarged prostate treatments.
Enlarged Prostate Symptoms
An enlarged prostate is also called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or benign prostatic hypertrophy. Before discussing enlarged prostate symptoms, it’s important to understand that some men with the condition will have no symptoms at all. For the majority of men with BPH, however, they will have symptoms and usually they’ll be pronounced to the point that they’re hard to ignore.
The most common of enlarged prostate symptoms is the need to urinate far too frequently. This is usually experienced more often at night. The explanation for this is quite straightforward; the enlarged prostate is pressing on the urethra, which is the tube that runs down the length of the penis to eliminate urine. The bladder muscles have to work harder to eliminate urine as a result. Many times men will complain that they have a powerful urge to urinate, but only a small amount of urine is passed. This is also related to the prostate pushing against the urethra.
Another one of the enlarged prostate symptoms that is especially common is having difficulty urinating. This occurs for the same reason – pressure on the urethra resulting from the enlarged gland. More specifically, the enlarged prostate symptoms that a man has may be having it take longer to start a urination stream, or having the flow of urine be noticeably weak in comparison to how it used to be. In either instance the man may also feel that there is still urine in the bladder after he has finished urinating.
More Severe Enlarged Prostate Symptoms
The most severe of the enlarged prostate symptoms related to this condition is the complete inability to urinate at all. This of course is a major problem and a real health risk, and can also be a result of bladder infections or severely weakened bladder muscles. If these enlarged prostate symptoms are not treated promptly then permanent damage to the kidneys or bladder can occur. As you might expect, this full inability to urinate will only come from a prostate that is severely enlarged, and typically there will have been preceding symptoms that will lead the individual to see treatment before it gets to this stage.
What Causes Enlarged Prostate?
As mentioned above, the causes of enlarged prostate are primarily in hormonal changes that are related to a man aging. However, while all men age equally it’s a fact that not all men get an enlarged prostate. Researchers believe that some men have a genetic predisposition for it, and it’s true that if your father had an enlarged prostate then you’re more likely to have one yourself.
It is also true that excessive alcohol abuse can increase your chances of having an enlarged prostate, in the same way it can lead to enlargement of other internal organs as well.
Enlarged Prostate Treatment
The most common enlarged prostate treatment is to take alpha blocker medications like Urotraxal (Alfusozin) and Flomax (Tamsulosin) as prescribed by a physician. These medications are very effective, but it’s important for takers to understand that there may be unwanted sexual side effects (decreased ejaculation). In more severe prostate enlargement cases your physician may prescribe 5-alpha reductase drugs to slow the growth of the prostate or – in best cases – actually force it to shrink in size.
For those who prefer natural cure approaches, saw palmetto has shown itself to be effective in countering enlarged prostate symptoms. However, it is not nearly as effective as the pharmaceutical medications for an enlarged prostate.
Non-invasive and invasive surgery options are a possibility for severe cases as well. A urologist is able to perform a TUNA (transurethral needle ablation) procedure or administer transurethral microwave therapy (TUMT). Both are surprisingly simple procedures that can usually be done in about an hour.
Prostate enlargement treatment for severe cases may necessitate invasive surgery, and this is often the case when a man is completely unable to urinate because of the condition. These enlarged prostate treatment surgeries include:
- TURP (Transurethral Resection of the Prostate) – this involves removal of some of the prostate tissue
- Photoselective Vaporization of the Prostate (PVP) – lasers are used to melt away excess prostate tissue
- Holmium Laser Ablation of the Prostate (HoLAP) – similar to PVP with the use of lasers to remove prostate tissue
- Holmium Laser Enucleation of the Prostate (HoLEP) – the difference between HoLEP and HoLAP is that with HoLEP the laser cuts away the tissue in the same way but then an instrument called a morcellator chops up the prostate tissue in order to make it easier to remove from the body.