Statistics show that over 25% of men aged 55 suffer from some form of prostate disease, the main ones being prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, and prostate cancer. While the first can have either bacterial or non-bacterial causes, what triggers the others is unclear, but they can all lead to urination issues that not even the best toilet for seniors can prevent.
Before going into details about what prostate disease is, we should take a look at this gland in order to understand its role within the human body. The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system that is about the size of a walnut, and it’s located at the base of the bladder.
You might not expect such a small element to pose so many problems, but as it’s the case with glands in our body in general, you need to be very careful about it. The thin tube that allows both urine and semen to go through the urethra (the penis), makes its way through the prostate gland as well.
Its role is quite a clear one, as the alkaline fluid that it produces helps enhance and nourish the sperm as it leaves the urethra. In terms of development, the prostate goes through two main stages. The first one takes place using sex hormones produced by testes during the puberty years, which enables the gland to get to an average weight of 20 grams, according to studies.
The second stage takes place when men get in their thirties. As you can probably imagine, this gland plays a major role in the reproductive system and thus has a significant impact on the overall health of a man.
Studies show that around 25% of men that are aged 55 or over are experiencing a prostate condition. If this percentage doesn’t seem that high to you, then you may want to think about it as one out of every four men are dealing with such issues. Unfortunately, the numbers increase up to 50% by the age of 70 years old.
In their early stages, prostate diseases might have no symptoms, and can, therefore, go unnoticed for a long time. For this reason, it’s important for any man over the age of 50 to regularly check the gland and make sure that everything is ok.
In case you are now sure how often such a checkup should be done, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor and see what the right approach is in your case. This is particularly important if you have a family history of prostate disease. If that’s the case, you need to discuss this with your doctor as well and do this even earlier.
When it comes to prostate disease, there are three common forms that a man may experience, and these are inflammation (also known as prostatitis), the non-cancerous enlargement of the gland (BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia), and prostate cancer. The bad news is that a man can experience more than one such condition.
Prostatitis (or the inflammation of the prostate) can affect men of any age, and it is usually a more common issue among younger men, namely those aged between 30 and 50 years. The main causes can be either bacterial or non-bacterial. Bacterial prostatitis is defined by an acute or chronic bacterial infection.
The non-bacterial type results in what is also known as CPPS, or chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Unfortunately, in most cases the exact cause of these conditions is unknown, but the bacterial prostatitis is known to respond well to antibiotic drugs if these are able to get into the prostate.
Of course, the non-bacterial type, or CPPS, is more difficult to manage and it’s also the most common form that appears. Its symptoms may vary from one individual to another, and there is no single test that can help diagnose it, which means that doctors need to rule out any other possible causes for the symptoms before making this diagnosis.
Some of the possible causes for this condition may include a past bacterial infection, issues with the nerves that connect the lower urinary tract, irritation from chemicals, and even sexual abuse. Another aspect that you should know is that chronic anxiety problems were also connected with CPPS in some cases, so maintaining a balanced life and mental health definitely helps.
Non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate (BPH)
This condition gets more common as men get older, and while it is not life-threatening, BPH can definitely affect an individual’s quality of life, so it’s not something to be trifled with. The gland’s enlargement which surrounds the top of the urethra causes it to narrow, thus adding pressure on the base of the bladder.
As you can probably imagine, this leads to obstruction in the urination process. Such blockages show up as lower urinary tract issues most of the times, which result in the urine staying in the bladder instead of being released as it should. This is also known as acute urinary retention when it happens suddenly.
If that’s the case, it needs to be treated right away since it’s very painful and the temporary relief is achieved by inserting a thin tube to help release the urine. We know that this topic is certainly not a fun one, but it’s crucial for men to take care of this part of their bodies, for a healthy life.
If left undetected or untreated, chronic yet painless retention of urine in the bladder is usually associated with high pressures that can even damage kidney function.
This word is the one that scares men and women alike and for good reasons. Prostate cancer usually affects individuals over the age of 50 years, and while causes remain yet unknown, age and family history are usually contributing factors.
In the initial stages, the cancer cells remain in the prostate gland, but in the case of more aggressive forms, they can enter the vascular and lymphatic systems. From there, they can spread toward other organs and parts of the body, where they can further develop into secondary tumors.
Given the risks associated with the prostate gland, it’s important to regularly check with your doctor and see that everything is ok. In the next lines, we’ll take a closer look at some of the symptoms that might indicate a prostate disease.
Symptoms and treatment
We’ve already mentioned that in certain cases, prostate diseases might not come with symptoms, especially in the earliest stages. However, if an individual has difficulty urinating, particularly trouble starting the urine flow, then this is a sign that a doctor’s opinion is needed. The same goes if the urge to urinate often appears, particularly at night.
Painful urination or feeling that the bladder cannot be fully emptied fall into the same category of possible symptoms, as does seeing blood in the urine or independent of it. However, for this last one, the cases are often not related to the prostate, so you need to check with your doctor and determine the exact cause.
Depending on the type of prostate disease that one is dealing with, the treatment can include antibacterial, as well as other supportive drugs. For example, treating BPH can also include medication that helps relax the gland’s smooth muscle or to shrink its size, while surgery may be used for immediate effects in more advanced cases.
When it comes to cancer, the treatment is always tailored to an individual’s particular case and needs, since there are many other aspects that need to be taken into account. The right approach for managing such situations includes active surveillance of the case, surgery depending on how advanced the condition is, as well as radiotherapy.
However, all of these aspects need to be discussed with expert doctors, since aspects such as hormone treatments or chemotherapy involve many other elements that need to be considered.