What is an enlarged prostate?
As men age, their prostate glands tend to get larger. This is a normal part of the aging process and it doesn't usually cause a problem for most men.
For some men however, the prostate grows to an abnormal size which does in fact begin to cause problems. This condition is called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or (BPH). The common name is simply an enlarged prostate.
How does an enlarged prostate cause problems for the patient?
As a man's prostate gland gets larger, it has to expand into an area that doesn't expand along with it. Since the gland has to expand somewhere, the only place available is the area that surrounds the urethra.
This expansion causes the urethra to be compressed as if a clamp had been applied to it. This compression of the urethra causes urinary problems, infections, and other maladies.
What are the symptoms of an enlarged prostate?
Men with enlarged prostates typically notice:
Other than being annoying, is an enlarged prostate a serious matter?
- the urge to urinate quite frequently
- a weak urine flow
- breaks in the urine stream
Yes, very much so! Urine retention in the bladder can cause serious problems such as infection, bladder stones, bladder damage, and incontinence.
Some men are also at risk for prostate cancer. If you suspect that you might have an enlarged prostate, it's extremely important that you consult a urologist right away since testing is the only way to rule out prostate cancer.
Treatments for an enlarged prostate
In the early stages when the prostate gland is only slightly enlarged, no treatment is usually needed (but you still need to see your urologist for regular checkups).
When the enlarged prostate begins to pose a danger to your health, your urologist will recommend one or more treatment options:
What should I do if I believe I might have an enlarged prostate?
- Drugs to shrink the enlarged prostate
- Transurethral Microwave Thermotherapy (TUMT), a procedure that uses microwaves to heat up and destroy excess prostate gland tissue
- Transurethral Needle Ablation (TUNA), which is a minimally invasive procedure that delivers low-level radiofrequency energy via two needles, burning away a well-defined area of the enlarged prostate gland which results in improved urine flow.
- Some enlarged prostate patients will need surgery to remove the enlarged area of the prostate gland.
See your primary physician or a urologist right away. It's important to quickly determine whether you're dealing with an enlarged prostate and/or the much more serious prostate cancer.
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