What is Prostate?
The prostate is a gland of the male reproductive system located in the lower urinary tract. A healthy prostate is the size of a large walnut and weighs approximately 15-25gms. As men grow older, there can be changes in the structure of prostate.Most likely, it can cause enlargement of prostate in men over 50 years of age. This condition is called as "Benign Prostatic Enlargement (BPE) - the cause of which is not well understood”. More than 50% of older men have some symptoms related to it.
Tip: BPE does not mean you have prostate cancer. Though an enlarged prostate can be troublesome but usually it is not serious.
What are lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS)?
An enlarged prostate compresses the urethra at the outlet of bladder, which can affect the way you normally urinate. Sometimes symptoms can be mild like, you may need to urinate more often or it is more difficult to empty your bladder completely. There is nothing to worry at this stage as it can be a part of ageing process just like decline in mobility, flexibility and memory. It is possible that your doctor will not recommend treatment for such mild symptoms.
However, the bothersome Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) for which you might require intervention are:
1. The way you hold the urine in the bladder (Storage Symptoms)
- The need to urinate more often than usual
- The sudden need to urinate and having trouble postponing it
- Any involuntary loss of urine
- The need to wake up at night to urinate
2. The way you urinate (Voiding symptoms)
- A weak stream of urine
- Splitting or spraying of the urine stream
- The flow of urine starts and stops
- Straining when urinating
- It takes a while before the urinary flow starts
- It takes longer to finish urinating
- In rare cases, acute or chronic urinary retention
3. How you feel after you urinate (Post-micturition)
- The feeling that the bladder is not completely empty
- Involuntary loss or dribbling of urine into your underwear shortly after leaving the toilet
Men with the following symptoms should immediately seek intervention:
- Blood in the urine
- Inability to urinate
- Severe pain in the lower abdomen and urinary tract
- Urgent, painful and frequent need to urinate
- Frequent UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections)
How to diagnose to know symptoms are due to BPE?
Urologists do a series of tests to understand what causes your symptoms after taking proper medical history. The symptoms listed previously can point to many diseases and not only BPE. That is why you may need to take several tests before the urologist can make a diagnosis.
- Physical examination of abdomen and genitals,
- Rectal examination with a finger to feel the size,
- shape and consistency of the prostate (known as digital rectal examination), urine tests, blood tests (kidney function tests, prostate specific antigen),
- Bladder diary (i.e. how much you drink, how often you urinate and how much urine you produce),
- Uroflowmetry (electronic recording of flow of urine),
- Imaging of urinary tract (ultrasound) or/and urodynamics (test to know more information about your urination cycle and how your bladder muscles work) according to the need in diagnosis.
Natural Remedies for an Enlarged Prostate
- Do not wait for too long: It is advisable to visit the washroom when you feel the urge to do as unnecessary controlling can cause the bladder to stretch and damage.
- Exercise more: Always good to be physically more active. A little exercising can help reduce urinating problems caused by an enlarged prostate.
- Stay warm: Keeping yourself in a warm environment can reduce frequent visits to washroom.
- Avoid beverages in the night: Try to limit your drinks alteast two to three hours before you go to bed to avoid frequent visits to toilet.
- Maintain an ideal weight as obesity is considered to be one of the reasons for an enlarged prostate.