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Enlarged Prostate Causes and Risk Factors

Jul 31, 2008
An enlarged prostate is becoming so common in men that it is said that "every man will have an enlarged prostate if he lives long enough". Since this is such a common occurrence, it is necessary to educate oneself as to the indicators and causes of the condition. Knowing what to look for is tantamount to early intervention and, possibly, survival.

What is the prostate?

The prostate gland is a walnut sized gland that wraps around the urethra between the pelvic bone and the rectum. It secretes a fluid that is used to carry sperm cells. Since it surrounds the urethra, which carries urine, it has a direct effect on urination. As the prostate gland enlarges, pressure is exerted on the urethra and problems may arise concerning urination.

The prostate gland undergoes two growth periods. The first takes place during puberty. During this phase, the prostate doubles it's size. Then about the age of 25, the prostate undergoes a second growth phase. The latter phase commonly results, years later, in a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH for short. This is the medical term for an enlarged prostate.

Incredibly, the prostate gland grows continually for most of the man's lifetime, yet the enlargement presents no problems at all until the later years. Before the age of 40, BPH almost never shows symptoms. However, more than 50% of men over sixty have symptoms of BPH. That number grows to 90% for men above 70 years of age.

Main causes of enlarged prostate

By far, the most common cause of enlarged prostate is age. Men under 40 normally do not present any symptoms. As mentioned above, the numbers are more dramatic at age 70 and above. For this reason, it is suggested that after age 50, all men should have a prostate exam at least once a year.

Besides age, other causes of enlarged prostate include:

* Diabetes. Urgent needs are common in diabetics.
* Chronic inflammation of the bladder (interstitial cystitis). More prevalent in women and is hard to diagnose.
* Use of some medications (especially diuretics). Ask your doctor about prostate implications.
* Radiation therapy. Consult with your physician if you are undergoing this type of therapy for any reason.
* Bladder dysfunction.
* Bladder cancer. This cancer can spread quickly to the prostate and has equally high mortality and cure rates, depending on when it is detected.

Risk factors and indicators of a problem

Many times, an enlarged prostate will show symptoms at all in younger men. However, there are a few indicators to look for.

* A weak urine stream or stopping and starting while going.
* Difficulty in starting to urinate.
* Post-urination dribbling.
* Sensation of not being finished.
* Incontinence or leakage of urine from the bladder.
* Frequent or urgent needs to urinate, especially during the night time (nocturia). A normal male can usually sleep for 6 to 8 hours without needing to urinate. Most men do wake in the early morning hours to go, though, and this is not uncommon.

If you have any of the indicators listed here, please get to a doctor and get checked out. This is especially important if you are above the age of 50.
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