Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: Who is in danger and how do you lower the risk?
Prostatic hyperplasia is much more common than people think. It is not your common age-related illness. According to the article, “Understanding patient and physician perceptions of benign prostatic hyperplasia in Europe: The Prostate Research on Behaviour and Education (PROBE) Survey”, the symptoms appear in 25% of Europeans over 40 and over half of those who have crossed the 65-year marker. We will tell you what you should be on the lookout for in order to avoid developing this illness.
The illness which no one is talking about
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is when the tissues of the prostate (a small gland weighing 20-25 grams situated under the bladder) enlarge. The prostate produces liquids that make up the ejaculation fluid and aids sperm mobility. The prostate gland has another function: during an erection, it blocks the urine canal.
With age, the tissues in this gland begin to expand forming knots and becoming firmer. It is still unknown why this happens. Some research like “Investigation, treatment and monitoring of late-onset hypogonadism in males” suggests that the illness is hereditary. In any case, men whose fathers had benign prostatic hyperplasia are twice as likely to contract it. One thing we know for sure, age, and a shift in the number of androgens in the blood definitely affect the risk of developing prostatic hyperplasia.
This illness is one of the most common urological diseases among elderly men. More than half of European urologists assert that at least 45% of their patients have some of the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia according to the article “Understanding patient and physician perceptions of benign prostatic hyperplasia in Europe: The Prostate Research on Behaviour and Education (PROBE) Survey”
That is why men over 40 need to be wary of their health and be careful to notice hyperplasia of the prostate gland in early stages in order to start preventative treatment.
Symptoms and consequences
The tumor grows slowly which is why the symptoms are usually barely noticeable in the beginning, but with time they become more and more obvious.
In the beginning stages, the main symptom is difficulty urinating. First, this means that one has to empty their bladder once every hour or two even during the night. These symptoms may appear over the course of 2-3 years. During this time the prostate gets so big that it puts pressure on the urethra. This means that urination requires serious effort, and urine is released in small amounts and can be a cloudy color or mixed with blood. The bladder always retains some liquid and the man constantly feels like his bladder hasn’t completely emptied. Just this symptom is already uncomfortable and lowers the quality of life. As the sickness develops it leads to bladder incontinence and sometimes even kidney failure. Also, urine is always leaking from the full bladder which is a subconscious process and impossible to control.
Of course, the reality will differ from the clinical description, it depends on the speed of the tumor growth, its location, and size. Only a doctor can explain what is happening and offer an accurate prognosis. Usually, they send the patient to get lab tests like a rectal exam, ultrasound, x-ray, urine test, blood test, and to check for prostate-specific antigen levels.
Treatment and preventative measures
In the early stages the doctor may prescribe medicine, but if discovered too late surgery may be needed – usually the removal of the tumor by laser surgery. This is a modern and noninvasive procedure, though no one is saying it’s enjoyable!
As always it’s easier and cheaper to prevent the illness rather than treat it. Every man over 50 should see the urologist for a check-up at least once a year. Between each visit, he should pay careful attention to his symptoms. Based on research done by the American Urology Association entitled, “What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?”, obesity, lack of physical exercise and erectile dysfunction can be potential risk factors involved in developing BPD. The advice to avoid this illness is simple, regular physical activity, a healthy sex life, and a balanced diet rich in vitamins. Obviously Vitamin C also plays a role in protecting men’s health as explained in this article: “Enlarged prostate: Does diet play a role?”. That is why a correct combination of vitamins can help to avoid developing this illness, especially if one starts to take vitamins as early as possible.
As you may have realized, yes, the risk of developing this illness is high. But even if you have noticed worrying symptoms and feel that you are in the high-risk group, don’t panic! Our modern world has provided us with many technologies and methods which can help us protect our health for many years and avoid serious consequences for our bodies, and that is always good news!
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