Prostate Problem Guide
Enlarged Prostate - A Normal Part Of The Aging Process
The prostate gland experiences two main stages of growth during its life. The first sees quite rapid growth during the early years of puberty with the prostate more or less doubling in size. The second stage of growth starts in a man's mid-twenties and is a far slower phase of growth which then continues throughout life.
For the majority of men this second growth phase does not cause any problems until they reach their sixties or seventies when the symptoms caused by the now enlarged prostate will begin to appear. In most cases a visit to the doctor will reveal the presence of nothing more than a simple enlarged prostate and, in medical terms, your doctor will say that you are suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia, benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH.
The prostate is situated between the bladder and the rectum and partially surrounds the urethra – the tube which carries urine from the bladder. As the prostate gland grows, the tissue surrounding it restricts its expansion and causes the prostate to close around the urethra, thereby restricting the flow through the urethra. The bladder wall thickens at the same time and the bladder starts contracting even when it contains quite small quantities of urine. Finally, the bladder becomes weak, loses its ability to contract and thus to empty itself, so that urine remains trapped in the bladder.
Clearly the precise symptoms experienced as a result of an enlarged prostate will vary from one person to the next but, normally, the first signs will be a difficulty in urinating or a change in the pattern of urination.
For example, you may find that you begin to experience a weak flow of urine or that the flow appears hesitant, tending to stop and start. You may also find that calls to the bathroom become urgent as well as more frequent, especially during the night. You may also notice a tendency to leak or dribble urine.
ASYMPTOMATIC: having no recognizable symptoms of a particular disorder.
DIFFERENTIATION: the use of the differences between prostate cancer cells when seen under the microscope as a method to grade the severity of the disease; well differentiated cells are easily recognized as normal cells, while poorly differentiated cells are abnormal, cancerous and difficult to recognize as belonging to any particular type of cell group.
INVESTIGATIONAL: a drug or procedure allowed by the FDA for use in clinical trials.
SPHINCTER: a muscle which surrounds, and by its contraction tends to close, a natural opening; as, the sphincter of the bladder.
In certain cases you might be completely unaware of any problem until you suddenly find that you cannot urinate at all. In this case, referred to as acute urinary retention, the underlying problem is often brought to light by common medicines containing a decongestant and normally used in allergy or cold treatments. Acute urinary retention can also be triggered by cold, alcohol or a long period of immobility.
In most cases these symptoms result simply from an enlarged prostate and this will be confirmed by a visit to your doctor who can often treat the condition quite easily. It is, however, important that you do consult your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms as, in a small number of cases, they may indicate a more serious underlying condition, such as prostate cancer.
A visit to the doctor is also vital as, although most cases of BPH may be treated fairly easily, the condition can lead to an infection of the urinary tract, damage to the bladder and kidneys, stones in the bladder and incontinence.
An early visit to the doctor can have the problems associated with an enlarged prostate cleared up quickly and reduce the risk of developing complications considerably.