HEALTH IS THE ULTIMATE GIFT
Risk factors for prostate gland enlargement include:
- Aging. Prostate gland enlargement rarely causes signs and symptoms in men younger than age 40. About one-third of men experience moderate to severe symptoms by age 60, and about half do so by age 80.
- Family history. Having a blood relative, such as a father or brother, with prostate problems means you’re more likely to have problems.
- Ethnic background. Prostate enlargement is less common in Asian men than in white and black men. Black men might experience symptoms at a younger age than white men.
- Diabetes and heart disease. Studies show that diabetes, as well as heart disease and use of beta blockers, might increase the risk of BPH.
- Lifestyle. Obesity increases the risk of BPH, while exercise can lower your risk.
It’s true that prostate problems are common after age 50. The good news is there are many things you can do.
The prostate is a gland about the size of a walnut. It is part of the male reproductive system and wraps around the tube that carries urine out of the bladder. It grows larger as you get older. If your prostate gets too large, it can cause health issues. Having prostate problems does not always mean you have cancer.
Sometimes a doctor may find a problem during a routine checkup or by doing a rectal exam. If you think there is something wrong with your prostate, see your doctor right away.
Here are some examples of non-cancer prostate problems:
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, means your prostate is enlarged, but is not cancerous. It is very common in older men. An enlarged prostate may make it very difficult to urinate or cause dribbling after you urinate. You may feel the need to urinate a lot, often at night. See your family doctor for an exam. Treatments for BPH include:
“What Causes this Problem?”
The exact cause of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia is surprisingly still unknown, but evidence points to a few likely culprits:
1. DHT (Dihydrotestosterone): DHT plays an important role in the growth and development of the prostate. Unfortunately, our bodies continue to convert testosterone to DHT, so the prostate continues to grow beyond what’s necessary. Scientists have even found that men who do not produce DHT do not develop problems with the prostate.1
2. Hormonal Imbalance: As men age, testosterone levels slowly drop and an enzyme called Aromatase converts some of that testosterone into Estrogen. Studies have identified high concentrations of estrogen-related enzymes in hyperplastic prostates.2
3. Chronic Inflammation: Inflammation is a normal response to health problems and injuries, but other factors like diet, stress, and elevated blood sugar can tip us into a constant state of inflammation, which was observed in 43-98% of problematic prostate tissue.
Enlarged Prostate Symptoms
Remember that the following can be signs of a prostate problem:
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Need to get up many times during the night to urinate
- Blood in urine or semen
- Painful or burning urination
- Not being able to urinate
- Painful ejaculation
- Frequent pain or stiffness in lower back, hips, pelvic or rectal area, or upper thighs
- Dribbling of urine
- A feeling of incomplete bladder emptying
- A urinary stream that starts and stops
- A weak or slow urinary stream
For some, it may only be a few of these symptoms that occur on a daily basis. Whether it’s a few symptoms or a handful, they have a serious negative effect on your life. The most common symptoms are usually the first ones to occur: frequent urge to urinate (often causing sleep interruptions) and the feeling like your bladder is never quite empty… worse yet, these first symptoms seem to play off of each other in a vicious cycle:
You need to urinate but don’t feel like your bladder is empty, so you need to urinate again, and eventually your body gets used to you urinating before your bladder is even full. Pretty soon you’re planning your entire day around the nearest restroom…
In fact, many suffer for years and years before pinpointing the true source of the problem. So if the above list is hitting close to home, it’s no cause for despair, it’s hopeful news because you may finally be able to take the steps towards correcting the problem.
If your symptoms are not too bad, your doctor may tell you to wait before starting any treatment to see if the problem gets worse. Your doctor will tell you how often you need to return for checkups. You can start treatment later if your symptoms worsen. Medications:There are medicines that can help shrink the prostate or help relax muscles near your prostate to ease your symptoms. Talk with your doctor about possible side effects. Surgery:If nothing else has worked, your doctor may suggest surgery to help urine flow. There are many types of BPH surgery. Talk with your doctor about the risks. Regular checkups are important after surgery. Other treatments:Sometimes radio waves, microwaves, or lasers are used to treat urinary problems caused by BPH. These methods use different kinds of heat to reduce extra prostate tissue.
How Can BPH Cause Renal Failure?
Anything that gets in the way of urine leaving the body can lead to acute renal failure. Kidney stones or blood clots in the urinary tract can cause it. Prostate cancer or BPH can cause it as well.
Symptoms of BPH tend to get worse over time. In the most severe cases, BPH can lead to infection, bladder damage, or kidney damage. It’s not common, but BPH can lead to renal failure. That’s why it’s important to seek treatment for BPH before it causes damage to your kidneys.
The good news is that most men with BPH don’t develop kidney damage or renal failure.
What Is Renal Failure?
Renal failure, or kidney failure, is when your kidneys can no longer do their job of fluid filtration. It means you must have ongoing dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. You might also hear it referred to as end-stage renal disease.
Common causes of kidney failure include diabetes and certain autoimmune or genetic diseases. Certain drugs, high blood pressure, or nerve damage around the bladder can affect the kidneys. Bladder, cervical, or colon cancer can also hurt your kidneys.
What Are the Symptoms of BPH and Renal Failure?
The most common complaint of men with BPH is the need to get up during the night to urinate. It might feel like your bladder is full, even if you urinated recently. There might be a sense of urgency, but the stream may be weak. You may have to strain to urinate. If it gets bad enough, you may find it difficult to urinate at all.
Symptoms of renal failure include:
- trouble urinating
- diminished urine volume
- swelling in your feet, ankles, or legs due to fluid retention
- shortness of breath or chest pain
When should I call the Doctor?
As it progresses, kidney failure can cause confusion, seizures, or coma. This is a life-threatening situation.
When repeated trips to the bathroom are robbing you of sleep, it’s time to see your doctor. Your general physician may refer you to a urologist. Your doctor can feel the size of your prostate by placing a gloved finger just inside your rectum.
If you have blood in your urine, can’t urinate, or are retaining fluid, seek medical attention right away.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Renal Failure?
According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity increases the risk of BPH. Managing your weight through diet and exercise is a good idea.
If you have BPH, treatment isn’t always necessary. Your doctor can monitor it during regular check-ups. Be sure to report new symptoms if you develop them.
Addressing the serious symptoms of BPH early on can improve quality of life and help prevent damage to the bladder and kidneys.
If necessary, treatment for BPH may include prescription medications or surgical intervention.
You can help protect your kidneys by controlling your blood pressure. A kidney-healthy diet is low in salt and fat. You should also go easy on tobacco and alcohol.
At your next checkup, ask your doctor about your personal risk factors for BPH and renal failure.
Acute bacterial prostatitis usually starts suddenly from a bacterial infection. It can cause fever, chills, or pain. It might hurt when you urinate, or you may see blood in your urine. See your doctor right away. He or she can prescribe medicine to make you feel better.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis is an infection that comes back again and again. This is a rare problem that can be hard to treat. Sometimes taking antibiotics for a long time may work. Talk with your doctor about other things you can do to help you feel better.
For either one of these bacterial infections, inform your wife (sexual partner), of the infection. It usually infects them, also. When this happens, you can transmit the infection back and forth, which can cause a serious kidney infection, which is a whole new ballgame. The treatment becomes a lot more serious and may include a stronger and longer antibiotic treatment or hospital stay. Do yourself and your partner a great favor and wipe down the toilet seat with antibacterial wipes or alcohol, each time you urinate or use the toilet. This will totally get rid of the bacteria that is causing the problem in the first place. It would be a great idea if your partner would do the same for you, just to keep bacteria from infecting you again.
Chronic prostatitis, also called Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS), is a common prostate problem. It can cause pain in the lower back, in the groin area, or at the tip of the penis. Men with this problem often have painful ejaculation. They may feel the need to urinate frequently, but pass only a small amount of urine. Treating this condition may require a combination of medicines, surgery, and lifestyle changes.
Prostate cancer is common among American men. Your chance of getting prostate cancer may be affected by your:
Age: Men age 50 and older run a greater risk. Race: Prostate cancer is most common among African-American men. Family History: If your father or brother has had prostate cancer, you are more likely to have it, too. Diet: Eating high-fat food with few fruits and vegetables may raise your risk.
Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
At the start, prostate cancer does not cause symptoms. As the cancer grows, you may have trouble urinating. Some men need to urinate often, especially at night. Others have pain or burning during urination, blood in the urine or semen, pain in the back, hips, or pelvis, and painful ejaculation.
To find out if these symptoms are caused by prostate cancer, your doctor will ask about your past medical problems and your family’s medical history. He or she will perform a physical exam. During the exam, your doctor will put a gloved finger into your rectum to feel your prostate for hard or lumpy areas.
Your doctor may also do a blood test to check the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level. PSA levels can be high in men with an enlarged prostate gland or with prostate cancer. You may also need an ultrasound exam that takes computer pictures of the prostate.
If tests show that you might have cancer, your doctor will want to confirm this with a biopsy. He or she will take out tiny pieces of the prostate to look for cancer cells. Your doctor may want to do a biopsy again to re-check the results.
Treating Prostate Cancer
Treatment for prostate cancer depends on whether cancer is in part or all of the prostate or if it has spread to other parts of the body. It also depends on your age and overall health. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment choice for you. You may want to ask another doctor for a second opinion.
For cancer that has not spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, your doctor may suggest:
Watchful Waiting or Active Surveillance:If the cancer is growing slowly and not causing problems, you may decide not to treat it right away. Instead, your doctor will check regularly for changes in your condition. Surgery:If your father or brother has had prostate cancer, you are more likely to have it, too. Radiation Therapy:This treatment uses radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The radiation may come from an x-ray machine or from tiny radioactive seeds placed inside or near the tumor. Talk with your doctor about possible side effects. Hormone Therapy:Men having other treatments like radiation therapy may also be treated with drugs to stop the body from making testosterone. This is done if it seems likely that the cancer will come back. Hormone therapy can also be used for prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate.
Some doctors think that men younger than 75 should have yearly PSA tests; others do not. Not all prostate cancers are life-threatening, and treatments can cause side effects. Sometimes high PSA levels can be caused by infections, BPH, or small cancers that may not grow or spread. Your doctor may prefer “watchful waiting” until there are signs that treatment is needed. Researchers are studying ways to improve the PSA test so that it detects only cancers that need treatment.