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Potential Prostate Problems in Aging Men

The prostate gland can be afflicted by different problems as men get older. These issues usually do not occur until men attain the age of 50, but some younger individuals in their late twenties may be affected as well. Prostate cancer is what comes to mind of some people at the mention of prostate gland problems. However, some of these are non-cancerous. We provide all you need to know about prostate issues in aging men as well as ideas on what you can do to treat and prevent them.

Problems Of The Prostate Gland

The prostate is a gland in men and it plays an integral role in the reproduction process. It secretes a white fluid which mixes with sperm to produce semen. The thick white fluid helps to keep your sperm lubricated and mobile. This gland is also believed to facilitate the flow of urine in men. It is shaped like a doughnut and somewhat circles round the urethra, the tube carrying urine from your bladder out of your body.

Usually, the prostate is roughly the size of a walnut or small marble. Many men experience an increase in the size of the gland as they get older. This could see it becoming as large as a golf ball. When this happens you may have problem with urination among other symptoms. This abnormality typically kicks in from around the age of 50. The exact causes of some of these challenges of the prostate are not known. But they are often been associated with hormonal changes which occur as people get older. They have also been linked to excessive buildup of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Certain other factors can also predispose you to having prostate problems.

Most Common Prostate Issues in Aging Men

 If you suspect you have a problem with your prostate, you may feel apprehensive about possibility of cancer. But there are different types of problems that could assail this male gland. Instead of simply assuming or getting worried over you having prostate cancer, you should seek the opinion of your doctor. Only a physician can tell what sort of problem you are having with your gland, if any at all. Let’s have a closer look at some of the most-common prostate problems in aging men.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

This is a very common challenge confronting elderly men and one that can easily be mistaken for cancer. Often described as enlarged prostate, benign prostatic hyperplasia is characterized by larger-than-normal prostate. It is benign in nature, as its name indicates, and is non-cancerous. But the enlargement causes the gland to press against the urethra causing urination problems and pain. Its occurrence has been linked to the effects of hormones, such as testosterone, on cells in the prostate. Around 50 percent of men are expected to have BPH in their lifetime.

Certain problems or symptoms may show up when you have benign prostatic hyperplasia. These include the following:

  • Difficulty in urinating
  • Slow urine flow
  • Straining while urinating
  • Dribbling after urination
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Pain and burning sensation when peeing
  • Feeling of the bladder not being completely empty

Some experts say as high as 90 percent of men will experience some of these symptoms by age 85.

Prostatitis

The prostate gland may become inflamed as a result of an infection. This inflammation is described as prostatitis. It is usually the result of a bacterial infection which has spread from another area of the body. Untreated benign prostatic hyperplasia is believed to also be capable of leading to prostatitis. This issue could either be acute or chronic.

Acute prostatitis – This develops rather suddenly and is commonly the result of a bacterial infection. Acute prostatitis may be caused by e-coli or sexually-transmitted infections. Urinary infection, bladder epididymitis, urethritis and trauma are some of the other possible causes. This problem is believed to occur more among men aged 20 to 35 as well as those with several sexual partners or engaging in very risky sexual behaviors. Possible symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Pain while urinating
  • Increased urge to urinate
  • Pain in testicles
  • Blood in the urine

Chronic prostatitis – It is not in all cases, however, that prostatitis crops up all of a sudden. Sometimes, it occurs gradually and its symptoms may be rather difficult to pin down. Chronic prostatitis may be the result of an acute prostatitis bacterial infection that has been left untreated or recurs from time to time. It could also develop from infections in other parts of the body. Men that fall in the age bracket 30-50 are thought to be more likely to have this problem. In addition to hormonal changes, lifestyle factors, such as alcohol intake, play a role in the occurrence of chronic prostatitis. This issue is rare but, when it does develop, can be difficult to treat with antibiotics. Symptoms include:

  • Constant urinary tract infections
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Discoloration of the urine
  • Testicular pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Perineal pain
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in the urine

In some cases, prostatitis may not show any symptom and may only be detected when having a routine medical checkup. Certain factors predispose you to having prostatitis. These include:

  • Dehydration
  • Pelvic injuries
  • Unprotected sex
  • A history of prostatitis
  • HIV infection
  • Heredity
  • Stress

Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer
This is arguably the most fearsome of prostate issues in men. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. This malignant growth of the outer section of the prostate is more common in elderly men. Majority of cases (up to about 80 percent) involve men aged 65 and above. The exact cause of prostate cancer is not known. But there are risk factors that point to the likelihood of a person having this issue. These include:

Age – A man is more prone to having prostate cancer as he gets older. Men aged 50 years and above are at increased risk.

Race – African-American men have been observed to be more susceptible to this malignant prostate growth.

Family history – You are more likely to have prostate cancer if any male in your immediate family, especially your father, has had similar issues in the past.

Diet – If you maintain a diet with high animal fat content, you are inadvertently raising the risk of cancerous growth in your prostate.

Men having recurrent prostate infections or a history of sexual-transmitted diseases are at greater risk. Those who have used progesterone are also likely to develop prostate cancer.

The following are some of the possible symptoms of prostate cancer:

  • Frequent urination
  • Reduction in amount of urine
  • Weak urine flow
  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Inability to urinate due to a blocked urethra, bladder or ureter
  • Lower back or pelvic pain
  • Fractures
  • Impotence
  • Bone pain

As you may have noticed, certain symptoms of the common prostate problems in aging men cut across. Frequent urination, for example, may be the result of benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostatitis, or prostate cancer. This makes it all the more essential to seek the opinion of your doctor if you notice any of them.

Diagnosis of Prostate Problems

You cannot easily identify which of the diverse prostate issues you may be having based on just symptoms, except you are a medical professional. The advisable thing to do if you suspect any problem will be to consult your doctor. Usually, you will be asked some questions on your medical history and that of your family. This is done to confirm or rule out the heredity causative factor. A physical examination will also be performed; during this, a gloved finger may need to be inserted into your rectum for signs of problems. The state of your prostate based on touch can give an idea of the exact issue.

It is possible that a blood test may be ordered. This is especially going to be the case if prostate cancer is suspected. Such a test may be to ascertain the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the body. PSA levels not greater than 4 are considered normal. Higher levels may point to benign prostatic hyperplasia or prostate cancer.

Your doctor may request you to have an ultrasound exam as well for a clearer view of the state of your prostate. In addition, a biopsy will have to be carried out if cancer is suspected.

Available Treatment Options For The Prostate

There are diverse options available for combating prostate issues, although most of these are said to not be entirely effective. Your doctor is in the best position to direct you on which of this is best for you. It may be decided that you should wait for some time before commencing treatment if the symptoms you are having are not yet very serious. Your doctor will continue to observe your condition through occasional checkups to see if the problem takes a turn for the worse. This is called watchful waiting or active surveillance. Treatment starts only when symptoms become aggravated.

So what are the options available for treating prostate problems in aging men? Let's consider some of the available treatments.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia

Medications – Certain drugs, such as finasteride and alpha-blockers, are commonly used for treating men with BPH. They help those having this problem in different ways. Finasteride reduces testosterone levels in the body thereby helping to shrink the prostate and ameliorate urinary issues. It should be noted that these drugs often come with side effects.

Surgery – In cases where BPH has become severe, a surgical procedure may be needed to improve urine flow. Surgery is typically the last resort when medications have failed to produce desired results. There are different types of procedures that may be carried out, depending on what your doctor intends to achieve. These include transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP), and prostatectomy.

Lifestyle changes – You may not need to do more than some lifestyle adjustments to deal with symptoms of prostate problems in some cases. Simply reducing your intake of drinks and beverages, especially coffee, tea and alcohol, before going to bed may help with treatment.

Natural remedies – It is believed by some that certain natural or herbal remedies may help men with benign prostatic hyperplasia. However, the use of herbs isn't recommended by the American Urological Association. Saw palmetto is commonly recommended for this problem and has been used for hundreds of years in combating urinary issues. The herb has been shown in some studies as being potentially helpful in relieving symptoms of BPH, especially in mild to moderate cases. Stinging nettle, rye grass pollen, and pygeum are some of the other herbal remedies thought beneficial.

Prostatitis

Medications – Since prostatitis is commonly caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics are typically used to treat it. You may need to be on these for a long time before seeing an improvement. Painkillers, used in combination with alpha-blockers, can also be used to relax prostate and bladder muscles.

Surgery – If the use of medicines fails to produce desired outcomes, you may need to have a surgical procedure done. A transurethral resection may be carried out to remove part of your prostate. There are possible complications from surgery, including incontinence and sterility.

Lifestyle changes – You may be able to lessen the severity of prostatitis symptoms by making certain changes in your lifestyle. You will benefit from avoiding excessive alcohol intake and high-risk sexual behaviors. Caffeine and spicy foods are better avoided.

Miscellaneous treatments – Sitting in a sitz bath filled with water for about 20 minutes every day can help you deal with symptoms of prostatitis. Vinegar or salt may be added as recommended by your doctor. Saw palmetto and acupuncture are also believed to be useful.

Prostate cancer

Surgery – If the presence of prostate cancer is confirmed, surgery is likely to be the first treatment that will be suggested, especially when it has advanced. The most common procedure is radical prostatectomy, which involves total removal of the prostate and some surrounding tissues. This virtually eliminates prostate cancer in its entirety, but it may bring about complications. Prostatectomy could lead to incontinence and loss of sexual function. A nerve-sparing procedure is a safer option, especially when it comes to preservation of sexual ability.

Radiation therapy – It is possible that the use of radiation may be recommended by your doctor for dealing with this malignant growth. It assists in eliminating cancer cells in the prostate as well as in shrinking tumors. There are two types of radiation therapy: external and internal. Radiation is beamed into the prostate from outside your body in the case of external therapy. On the other hand, internal radiation therapy involves placing radioactive "seeds" in the prostate or into a tumor or near it. Radiation therapy – like surgery – can result in loss of sexual function or impotence, among other side effects. Ensure you discuss these with your doctor.

Hormone therapy – This may be recommended if it is feared that the prostate cancer could recur after radiation therapy and other treatments. Hormone therapy involves using certain drugs to keep down the level of testosterone in your body. It is useful as well when dealing with prostate cancer which has spread to areas outside the prostate. Note that this therapy does have some side effects, including hot flashes and low libido.

Natural treatments – Scientific evidence has indicated that certain herbal remedies can be useful for fighting prostate cancer. For example, green tea has been shown capable of inhibiting angiogenesis, a process which provides cancer cells with new blood cells and thus enables them to multiply. The inhibitory effect is attributed to a potent natural antioxidant known as catechin. Garlic and milk thistle are two other natural remedies with proven benefits for combating malignant growth in the prostate.

Growth hormone and prostate health

You need to exercise caution if you are considering HGH therapy to boost the level of growth hormone in your body for some reasons. While you may benefit from HGH supplementation for certain purposes, its growth-inducing effect can worsen a prostate cancer. It could cause cancer cells to multiply and increase size of tumors. This awful effect has long been known and proven in many studies. And for this reason, many doctors do not recommend the use of synthetic HGH for men older than 50.

Some studies have shown that men with BPH can benefit from using growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) antagonists. Also referred to as somatoliberin among other names, GHRH is a 44-amino acid peptide of the hypothalamus which stimulates the pituitary gland to produce growth hormone. Risk of having tumors is increased when the level of this substance is high in your body. This is because it raises HGH levels as well. Researchers have shown that GHRH antagonists can help to shrink the prostate by suppressing the effects of growth factors.

Preventing prostate issues

Some of the issues affecting the prostate can be prevented by making the right choices in your diet and lifestyle. It is worth stating that there is no consensus yet on what you can do to prevent prostate cancer, going by conflicting findings from studies. However, the following should help you, in one way or the other, to deal with prostate issues you are experiencing or likely to experience as you get older.

Diet – The foods you eat can affect your prostate. It therefore makes sense to maintain a healthy diet. You should endeavor to eat more foods rich in vitamin D, which promotes a healthy prostate. Examples of these include liver, egg yolk and cod liver oil. Vitamin D supplements may also be used. Reduce the amount of fat in your diet as this increases your risk of having prostate cancer. More of your fat needs should be obtained from plant sources. Eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce your consumption of dairy products.

Guard against obesity – It has been shown that obese men – those having body mass index (BMI) of 30 and over – are at increased risk of having prostate problems. You will benefit from maintaining a healthy weight. Fruits and vegetables help greatly when working to achieve this.

Be active – It is immensely beneficial to exercise regularly when looking to keep prostate problems at bay. Exercise helps you maintain healthy weight or fight obesity. If you have not been exercising previously, it is advisable to start now, but slowly. Walk more and use the stairs more frequently. You should target working out for about half an hour on several days in each week. Exercising outdoors is more beneficial in that exposure to the sun promotes production of vitamin D.

There are obviously different issues that can affect your prostate gland. You may not be able to detect the exact one just by certain symptoms. The help of a doctor is needed in getting the right diagnosis. Treatment options are sometimes combined for the best results. Prostate cancer may be quite scary to many men, but it is actually easier to deal with than most other types of cancers because it progresses quite slowly. Have yourself checked immediately if you do have any of the symptoms mentioned to improve your chance of full recovery.

 

REFERENCES

https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/An-Overview-of-Prostate-Problems-108020.htm
www.nhs.uk/conditions/prostate-disease/pages/introduction.aspx
https://www.healingwithnutrition.com/pdisease/prostate/prostate.html
staging.nafc.org/media/media-kit/facts-statistics/
www.healthinaging.org/aging-and-health-a-to-z/topic:prostate-diseases/info:causes-and-symptoms/
www.worldhealth.net/anti-aging-tips/13/prevent-prostate-problems/
www.livestrong.com/article/36866-naturally-cure-prostatitis/
www.livestrong.com/article/322399-list-of-natural-herbs-to-cure-prostate-cancer/
www.prostate.net/2012/latest-news-articles/hgh-therapy-for-men/
med.miami.edu/news/growth-hormone-releasing-hormone-antagonist-reduces-prostate-size-in-bph
www.yourhormones.info/hormones/growth_hormonereleasing_hormone.aspx


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