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How To Tell If Your Prostate Is Enlarged

So How Do You Know When To See Your Doctor

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The bottom line is, that you should see a doctor for any symptoms of an enlarged prostate no matter how mild they are. This is because the severity of the symptoms doesnt always reflect the seriousness of the problem. The earlier your urologist can diagnose an enlarged prostate, the less invasive, most effective treatment options they will have available to prevent this condition from impacting your lifestyle.

Lastly, while these types of lower urinary tract symptoms are frequently symptoms of an enlarged prostate, they can also be signs of more serious conditions such as a prostate infection or prostate cancer, both of which are usually very treatable when caught early.

Prostatitis Vs Bph Quick Comparison Of Differences And Similarities

  • Both BPH and prostatitis are problems with the prostate gland, a gland surrounding the neck of the bladder in males. The prostate gland is responsible for releasing prostatic fluid that helps make up part of the semen.
  • The normal prostate gland is about the size of a walnut. As it increases in size, for whatever reason, it can press on the urethra and cause urinary problems.
  • Both prostatitis and BPH can result in an enlarged prostate.
  • Most men over 50 years old have some prostate enlargement with no symptoms, while bacterial prostatitis usually occurs in men younger than 35 years old and non-infectious prostatitis occurs in older men.
  • You can have either BPH or prostatitis, and have no signs or symptoms. Nevertheless, both can cause pain .
  • Prostatitis is caused by infections or other related health problems, while doctors dont know exactly what causes an enlarged prostate, but they think it may be related to hormones.
  • BPH can be treated but not cured, but prostatitis is curable in many patients. The large majority of men with prostatitis have an infection of the prostate gland, while those with BPH do not have an infection.

Enlarged Prostate Many Options To Treat This Common Problem

ROCHESTER, Minn. More than half of men in their 60s experience symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate gland. Add another decade or two, and nearly all men experience symptoms that may include a weak urine stream, difficulty starting urination, stopping and starting while urinating, and an urgent need to urinate.

The July issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers how the prostate gland changes with age and ways to find relief for whats technically termed benign prostatic hyperplasia.

The prostate gland is just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra through which urine passes out of the body. After puberty, the prostate gland is about the size of a walnut. As men age, the prostate gland can increase in size, pressing on the urethra and interfering with urine flow.

Men with mildly enlarged prostate glands and mild symptoms may not need immediate treatment. Studies have shown that up to one-third of mild cases clear up without treatment.

When treatment is needed, the focus is on reducing troubling symptoms and restoring normal urinary tract function. Several medication options are available for men with mild-to-moderate symptoms. Therapies include:

Alpha blockers: These drugs relax the bladder neck muscles and muscle fibers in the prostate. They help increase urine flow and reduce the need to urinate as often. Medications in this category are terazosin, doxazosin, tamsulosin, alfuzosin and silodosin.

Surgery options include:

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Causes Of Benign Prostate Enlargement

The exact cause of benign prostate enlargement is unknown, but research suggests that hormones probably play an important role in the condition’s development.

Hormones are powerful chemicals that can have a wide range of effects on the cells of the body.

One theory is that as some men and anyone with a prostate gets older, the levels of a type of hormone called dihydrotestosterone increases, which may stimulate the growth of the prostate.

Another theory suggests that two hormones, testosterone and oestrogen, play a role. Younger men and anyone with a prostate produce high levels of testosterone and much smaller levels of oestrogen. But as they get older, levels of testosterone decrease, which means they then have a higher proportion of oestrogen in their body. It’s been suggested that the relative increase in oestrogen may stimulate prostate growth.

International Prostate Symptom Score

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You’ll be asked to complete a questionnaire to assess your symptoms. Each question has five possible answers that carry a score, and your overall score is used to assess the severity of your symptoms.

The checklist includes the following questions.

Over the past month:

  • How often have you had the sensation of not completely emptying your bladder after urinating?
  • How often have you had to urinate again less than two hours after finishing urinating?
  • How often have you found that you stopped and started again when urinating?
  • How often have you found it difficult to postpone urination?
  • How often have you had a weak stream of urine?
  • How often have you had to push or strain to begin urinating during the course of one night?
  • How often have you had to get up during the night to urinate?

After your GP has assessed the severity your symptoms, they’ll aim to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms using certain tests.

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One of the first symptoms of prostate issues is pain or tenderness in the groin or lower back. This can be the result of a noncancerous condition called enlarged prostatic tissue, or it could be an infection of the bladder. In either case, its important to see a doctor as soon as possible. If youre suffering from prostate pain, you may want to consider reducing your caffeine intake.

Another symptom of a potentially enlarged prostate is difficulty starting a stream of urine, leaking, or dribbling. These symptoms are not serious, but theyre still alarming. Most men put up with an enlarged prostate for years before seeking medical attention, but they typically seek treatment as soon as they notice symptoms. Even if you dont have symptoms, its worth getting checked to determine if you have any prostate issues.

If you experience nightly bathroom runs, you may be experiencing an enlarged prostate. You may be having difficulty starting a stream of urine, or you may even be dribbling or leaking during the day. These problems arent life-threatening, but can become a nuisance. You should not ignore these signs and seek treatment as soon as you notice them. If you feel any of these symptoms, you should consult a doctor.

Ruling Out Prostate Cancer

If you have symptoms of BPH, your doctor might also test for prostate cancer. An early examination is important because only a comprehensive exam will determine whether you have BPH, which is a benign condition, or whether you have prostate cancer, which is best to diagnose early. Important tests for detecting prostate cancer include a digital rectal examination and prostate-specific antigen test.

  • Digital rectal examination : During this test, your urologist will feel your prostate. The exam shows whether your prostate is hard or asymmetrical, both of which can be signs of cancer, or soft, which is less likely to indicate cancer. Your urologist will insert a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum. If your doctor feels anything that may indicate prostate cancer, you may need to have more tests to make an accurate diagnosis.
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen Test: This blood test measures a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland. It is always done and evaluated in conjunction with a DRE.

It is important to recognize that a high PSA reading alone does not mean that you have cancer. An elevated PSA could be a sign of a number of conditions, including BPH, or prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate. There is no evidence that prostatitis and BPH cause cancer, but it is possible for a man to have one or both of these conditions and to develop prostate cancer as well.

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How Common Is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

BPH is the most common prostate problem in men. Almost all men will develop some enlargement of the prostate as they grow older. By age 60, 50% of men will have some signs of BPH by age 85, 90% of men will have signs of the condition. About half of these men will develop symptoms that need to be treated.

How Is Benign Prostate Enlargement Diagnosed

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If your GP suspects that you have an enlarged prostate, you’ll be asked to complete a questionnaire to assess your symptoms.

Each question has five possible answers that carry a score, and your overall score indicates the severity of your symptoms.

Your GP will also want to rule out other conditions that cause similar symptoms to prostate enlargement.

You may have a number of standard tests, such as urine tests, plus some more specific tests, such as a blood test that measures PSA.

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If You Are Diagnosed With Bph

Taken together, these tests will help your doctor determine whether you have BPH and if you do, how severe it is. If you have BPH, your doctor should provide you with information on whether simply monitoring your symptoms is a reasonable option, or whether treatment is a better option.

BPH can be treated medically or surgically in some cases.

Talking With Your Doctor

Different kinds of doctors and other health care professionals manage prostate health. They can help you find the best care, answer your questions, and address your concerns. These health care professionals include:

  • Family doctors and internists
  • Physician assistants and nurse practitioners
  • Urologists, who are experts in diseases of the urinary tract system and the male reproductive system
  • Urologic oncologists, who are experts in treating cancers of the urinary system and the male reproductive system
  • Radiation oncologists, who use radiation therapy to treat cancer
  • Medical oncologists, who treat cancer with medications such as hormone treatments and chemotherapy
  • Pathologists, who identify diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope

View these professionals as your partnersâexpert advisors and helpers in your health care. Talking openly with your doctors can help you learn more about your prostate changes and the tests to expect.

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Sign : Hesitancy To Start Urinating

It sometimes happens. You go to urinate, and nothing comes out immediately. However, if it occurs regularly, something might be amiss.

When the prostate pushes too much against the urethra, the narrowed tube can prevent you from even starting. You stand there ready, yet it takes a while to get going. This is particularly frustrating if it has happened when youve urgently wanted to go.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Bph And Prostate Cancer

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BPH and prostate cancer have similar symptoms, so its sometimes hard to tell the two conditions apart. As the prostate grows for any reason, it squeezes the urethra. This pressure prevents urine from getting down your urethra and out of your body. Prostate cancer symptoms often dont start until the cancer has grown large enough to put pressure on the urethra.

Symptoms of both BPH and prostate cancer include:

  • an urgent need to urinate
  • feeling the urge to urinate many times during the day and night
  • trouble starting to urinate or having to push to release urine
  • weak or dribbling urine stream
  • urine flow that stops and starts
  • feeling like your bladder is never fully empty

If you have prostate cancer, you might also notice these symptoms:

  • painful or burning urination

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of An Enlarged Prostate

An enlarged prostate is the most common cause of urinary problems in men as they get older. Possible symptoms include:

  • a weak flow when you urinate
  • a feeling that your bladder hasnt emptied properly
  • difficulty starting to urinate
  • dribbling urine after you finish urinating
  • needing to urinate more often, especially at night
  • a sudden urge to urinate you may sometimes leak before you get to the toilet.

You may not get all of these symptoms, and some men with an enlarged prostate dont get any symptoms at all. These symptoms can also be caused by other things, such as cold weather, anxiety, other health problems, lifestyle factors, and some medicines. Blood in your urine may be a symptom of an enlarged prostate. But this is rare and is usually caused by something else.

If you have any of the symptoms above, you should visit your GP to find out what may be causing them.

What If I Cant Have Surgery

Surgery isnt always an option you may not be fit or well enough for an operation, or you may not like the idea of it. If surgery isnt suitable for you and lifestyle changes and medicines havent worked, your doctor or nurse may suggest using a catheter. This is a thin, flexible tube used to drain urine from your bladder. The catheter may be permanent or temporary.

A permanent catheter is passed up into the bladder through your penis, or through a small cut in your abdomen. The catheter is usually attached to a drainage bag, which you strap on to your body under your clothing. Your doctor or nurse will usually change your catheter every 12 weeks.

A temporary catheter is where you put a catheter in yourself when you need to urinate, rather than leaving one in all the time. Your doctor or nurse will show you how to put the catheter in and tell you how often to use it. Some men can urinate quite well without a catheter and only use it once a day to make sure they empty their bladder regularly. Other men need to use a temporary catheter several times a day.

You can lower your chances of getting a urine infection by keeping your catheter and the area around it clean. You may find the following tips helpful.

Let your nurse know if your catheter isnt draining properly. If urine hasnt drained from your bladder for 2 to 3 hours, contact your GP or district nurse straight away.

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What You Can Do

The best thing to do is** create a bladder diary to log your symptoms**, and bring it to your doctor. If the onset of symptoms is acute or sudden, its less likely to be BPH. Gradual onset of symptoms, and weak or slow urine flow is more likely to be BPH, or related condition. OAB is usually associated with more urinary tract infections, although there is some overlap.

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Risk Factors For Bph And Prostate Cancer

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The word âbenignâ in benign prostatic hyperplasia means itâs not cancer. âHyperplasiaâ means an increased number of cells. BPH is also known as an enlarged prostate.

Itâs not clear what causes an enlarged prostate, but age appears to play a role. The main male hormone is testosterone, and your testosterone level naturally goes down with age.

Along with testosterone, you produce smaller amounts of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone and the female hormone estrogen. Some researchers theorize that as your testosterone drops, it leaves you with higher proportions of estrogen and DHT. This could prompt prostate cells to spread.

The main risk factors for BPH are being male and being older. Itâs rare if youâre under 40. Half of all men between ages 51 and 60 have BPH. It may affect as many as 90% of men older than 80.

Other risk factors for BPH include:

  • Family history: Having blood relatives with BPH boosts your risk
  • Overall health: Conditions such as diabetes or heart disease increase your odds
  • Obesityand lifestyle: Obesity may raise your risk, while exercise can lower it

Cancer starts when cells develop changes in their DNA, causing abnormal cells to grow out of control. Exactly what sets this off in prostate cells isnât clear.

As with BPH, the biggest risk factors for prostate cancer are being male and aging. Those 50 and up are at highest risk. About 13 of every 100 men will get prostate cancer during their lifetimes.

Other risk factors are:

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Medications For Enlarged Prostate

There are two main classes of pharmaceuticals that work to alleviate enlarged prostate symptoms: alpha blockers and alpha reductase inhibitors

  • Alpha Blockers. Alpha blockers relax the smooth muscle around the bladder neck and within the urethra.

  • Inhibitors. Inhibitors stop the conversion of the male hormone testosterone to DHT to reduce the prostates size, eliminating blockage.

Dont be surprised if your physician prescribes a combination of the two medications, as they have been shown to work more effectively together than alone. The downside is that combination therapy may increase the likelihood of experiencing side effects from the medications. Be sure to work with your doctor to assess the benefits and costs before starting on combination therapy.

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How The Prostate Changes As You Age

Because the prostate gland tends to grow larger with age, it may squeeze the urethra and cause problems in passing urine. Sometimes men in their 30s and 40s may begin to have these urinary symptoms and need medical attention. For others, symptoms aren’t noticed until much later in life. An infection or a tumor can also make the prostate larger. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any of the urinary symptoms listed below.

Tell your doctor if you have these urinary symptoms:

  • Are passing urine more during the day
  • Have an urgent need to pass urine
  • Have less urine flow
  • Feel burning when you pass urine
  • Need to get up many times during the night to pass urine

Growing older raises your risk of prostate problems. The three most common prostate problems are inflammation , enlarged prostate , and prostate cancer.

One change does not lead to another. For example, having prostatitis or an enlarged prostate does not increase your risk of prostate cancer. It is also possible for you to have more than one condition at the same time.

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