Shortly after his brother and father’s death from prostate cancer, a patient of mine, age 60 discovered he had a prostate problem too. At first he was terrified, but later he realized how common prostate problems are and how to handle these situations. After getting better, he is advising all his friends above 50 years of age to learn and be careful about prostate problems. Age is a factor that can contribute to prostate problems as well as genetics. Though young men are not at risk of this problems lack of exercise can lead to some of the prostate problems.
Prostate Problems: An Introduction
The prostate is a small walnut shaped gland present in the male reproductive system. It produces fluid for the sperm to swim through. It is located below the bladder, in front of the rectum and it surrounds the beginning of the tube urethra that transports urine from the bladder to the tip of penis.
Normally a prostate gland grows as a person ages, but if it grows too big it may block or obstruct the urethra, causing symptoms like difficulty in urination, high frequency of urination at night, painful ejaculation, urine incontinence, loss of libido; and pain in the back, pelvis or hips. The most common prostate problems are as follows:
Acute Bacterial Prostatitis
Acute Bacterial Prostatitis is a sudden illness caused by bacteria; most commonly Chlamydia and ureaplasma. Sometimes there is no trace of bacteria even though the patient is suffering from signs of infection such as fever, chills or pain as a sign of infection. The patient may also suffer from painful urination, often with blood in the urine. These are all common symptoms for acute bacterial prostatitis.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia or BPH occurs when the cells of the prostate gland are growing to an extent where the gland is obstructing the body’s proper urine flow; resulting in difficult urination and often dribbling of urine after urination. This enlargement is not cancerous but a long term BPH can promote other prostate problems. About 50 percent of men of the age 60, and 80 percent of men aged 80 are suffering from BPH.
Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis
This is a rare disease where the infection is recurrent and a long term antibiotic therapy may be required.
Chronic Prostatitis, also known as Chronic Pelvis Pain Syndrome (CPPS) is another common disease like BPH, but much harder to treat*. It is featured by inflammation that can be caused by bacteria, virus or other pathogens; or can be triggered by numerous faulty immune reactions inside prostate gland. Symptoms of this disease include:
- Very little of urine passes although a strong urge for urination is present.
- Pain at the tip of the penis, in groin area, accompanied by painful ejaculation.
- Often, there is pain in the back.
Proper diagnosis of the cause determines whether the patient will be treated with antibiotics, if he will be needing surgery or if a simple lifestyle change would do.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms of Prostate Problems?
The most common signs and symptoms of prostate problems include frequent urination. Also a burning or sensation or pain during urination may be experienced. Blood in the urine or semen may be an indicator of prostate problems. In addition, painful ejaculation and pain in the hip and pelvis area are also signs.
What Causes Prostate Problems?
There are several factors that are held responsible for prostate problems. The most natural cause is the gradual growing of prostate gland as a man gets older. A hormone named prolactin tends to increase* after 40 years of age. The increased level of this hormone stimulates the production of 5-alpha reductase, an enzyme responsible for metabolizing testosterone into di-hydro-testosterone (DHT). DHT has a potential to stimulate the prostate gland to produce more cells, which in turns leads to benign prostate hyperplasia and other prostate problems.
Sometimes the body’s own immune system can trigger an allergic response to cause inflammation in the prostate gland, leading to prostatitis. This inflammation can also be caused by bacteria, virus, fungus, or by some drugs or irritants. Apart from these factors, prostate problem causes can result from natural factors like genetics and age.
Another major problem that affects prostate gland is prostate cancer which starts from the outer part of the prostate then moves towards the inside. Some of the prostate cancer causes are due to inherited genes from the parents while others can be caused by the kind of lifestyle a man has in terms of diet and exercise. There are several risk factors for developing prostate problems:
- Age, race (there is a consensus that African-American people are more prone to prostate cancer).
- Unhealthy diet (like high-fat food with low fruit and vegetable intake).
- Genetic resemblance (if father or brother has it, chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer increases*).
More or less, all prostate problems are age related and there are several popular diagnostic tests like Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), digital rectal examination (DRE) doctors will run if they suspect something else is causing the problem. A doctor may perform a physical examination by putting his or her gloved finger into the rectum to feel any lump.
What Are The Causes of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?
Changes that occur in the male sex hormones that come with age can heighten the risk of this disease. Also if there is a history of prostate problems or abnormalities with testicles, the risk of developing this disease is increased.
Treatments For Prostate Problems
There are various treatment options out there, but they should always be adopted after consulting a doctor. Some of the chronic prostatitis treatment involves use of antibiotics and antioxidants. However, chronic prostatitis may not respond to antibiotics even if it was caused by a bacteria .Therefore other medical approaches have to be taken. Treatment options are as follows:
- Active Surveillance or watchful waiting – Doctor advises to wait for a while before starting any treatment to see the progress of the disease. Patient may not need any treatment if the problem is not complicated, although he may need to follow a checkup schedule with the doctor.
- Surgery – This may require removing* the whole prostate gland along with some associated tissue, and it may cause incontinence and impotence.
- Medications – There are some drugs that can reduce* the size of the prostate and heal the symptoms. However, some of these can cause potential side effects, for e.g., Finasteride (Proscar) can increase* male breast size with sexual dysfunction, Tamsulosin (Flomax) can cause nasal congestion and cough. Among natural medications, Saw palmetto seems to be very effective in treating enlarged prostate. There are some prostate supplements in the market that contain herbal medications along with vitamins, minerals and amino acids, and they can be very effective. Doctors may prescribe antimicrobials, anti-inflammatory drugs or pain killer Tramadol to alleviate the symptoms.
- Other treatments may include radio waves, micro waves, laser or techniques like acupuncture or reflexology to shrink the size of prostate gland.
Prostate problems are a set of diseases that are common but frequently overlooked. If left untreated they can take away precious years off your life? There are many treatment options out there and sometimes simple lifestyle changes are enough to get a healthy life back. The prostate problems may lead to severe effects that might require detailed treatment and time to eliminate* the condition. The most important keys here awareness and a conscious effort to treat** prostate problems.
Chronic prostatitis caused by bacteria can be treated through the use of antibiotics. This treatment may help in reducing* the inflammation. Antibiotics may not be effective in eliminating the disease even though it is caused by bacteria. This condition is not easily treated. Therefore it is better to develop a good eating habit, exercising and getting checkups regularly in a hospital to prevent the occurrence of prostate problems.