Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), commonly called an enlarged prostate, is starting to affect more and more middle aged and elderly men.
The prostate gland is slightly larger than a peanut and is located snug in between the urethra and the pubic bone. As the prostate grows, the bladder has to work more in order to push urine through the newly thinned urethra. The muscles of the bladder become overworked and therefore more sensitive. This causes the person affected to have to urinate more frequently. As the prostate grows and places pressure on the already sensitive bladder, the bladder begins to lose the ability to empty itself completely.
There is not a true diagnosis for what causes benign prostatic hyperplasia. Some medical specialists have the theory that androgens, which include testosterone and hormones similar to testosterone, are the main causes of the development of an enlarged prostate. Testosterone is the most important androgen, and is also the most important chemical produced in a man’s life.
The prostate works towards converting testosterone into a powerful androgen known as Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. DHT stimulates the growth of cells inside the tissue lining of the prostate gland. This is the theory which causes the enlarged prostate. Another theory is that blood vessels deteriorate in men as they age. The end result is an abnormal flow of blood and in return, a loss of oxygen. This also results in an enlarged prostate.
The prostatic hyperplasia is diagnosed in three ways: a rectal exam, blood tests, and an ultrasound. A rectal exam is always tried first, but the doctor may or may not be able to tell if the prostate is inflamed. The doctor might also require a urine sample to determine if there is an infection present that has caused any urinary discomfort.
The chance of prostate cancer is also considered an option and must be determined before an enlarged prostate can be diagnosed. In order to determine this, the doctor will order an ultrasound of the prostate and urinary tract. The blood tests are able to pick up on abnormally high levels of prostate antigens.
Having your enlarged prostate diagnosed in the early stages is vital for preventing any permanent damage. The worst case scenario is urinary retention. As mentioned earlier, if you let the problems persist, your bladder could eventually stop contracting allowing urine to flow. The choices for treatment are medicine or a surgical procedure.
The doctor will probably recommend medicine first, unless your condition is so severe that a surgical procedure is the necessary first step. If you are experiencing any of the signs mentioned for an enlarged prostate, make sure that you make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. This is not a condition that can be put off for a later date.
By – Allen Gelb