As men get older the vast majority of them will experience a disorder of the prostate known as benign prostate hyperplasia. BPH, while distressing, is a non-malignant enlargement of the prostate gland. This gland is very small at birth and doesn't really begin to grow until the onset of puberty. It reaches full size at around twenty years of age. |
As the male reaches forty to forty-five years benign hyperplasia, which is an increase in the number of cells, will begin to occur and will continue slowly for the rest of their life. Symptoms normally won't appear until around the age of 55 with about one-fourth of all men experiencing them. By the age of 75 nearly half of all men will begin to experiencing the problems associated with BPH and most men learn they have this condition upon visiting their doctor with complaints of some form of urinary problems.
Medical science does not know what causes benign prostate hyperplasia but it is known that certain risk factors, including age, family history, ethnicity, and hormone changes, can all play a role in its development. There are two preconditions which are necessary for the onset of BPH which are an age of at least 50 years old and the presence of testicles. An interesting side note on BPH is that men who are castrated before the onset of puberty never develop this condition.
There are several hormones responsible for prostate growth with Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) being the most important. DHT is made in prostate and is responsible for its growth. It is known that as men age hormone levels tend to drop but it is thought that the prostate itself becomes more sensitive to the DHT that is available. The female hormone estrogen is produced in small amounts in all males and is thought to be one of the factors that sensitize the prostate to the effects of DHT. Because of this any rise in estrogen levels, either because of aging or from outside sources is thought to increase the occurrence of BHP.
Benign prostate hyperplasia begins through the formation of small nodules in the periurethal glands in the inner layers of the organ. This is known as hyperplasia. AT the same time there is also an enlargement of the glandular cells which is called hypertrophy. It can take a long period of time for these changes to slowly occur.
As the prostate tissue expands it will eventually begin to tighten around the urethra which will cause a partial or complete obstruction of urine flow from the bladder. When this occurs the detrusor muscles will hypertrophy to compensate for this increased resistance, somewhat mitigating the symptoms. Unfortunately this will cause decreased bladder compliance and bladder instability. It is at this time that the signs and symptoms of BPH begin to appear.
This includes a weak urinary stream, increased time to urinate, hesitancy, incomplete emptying of the bladder, and post urination dribbling. Irritation of the bladder and urethra can also occur which can lead to an increased urinating frequency, urgency, incontinence, nocturia, dysuria, and bladder pain. If an enlarged prostate is not treated and reduced in size a multitude of complications can begin to develop. The bladder can stretch and distend as more and more urine begins to be retained inside it. This can result in out-pouchings of the bladder wall, often referred to as Diverticula. Any distension can cause a blockage of the ureters, causing a back up of urine and infection back into the kidneys, causing kidney infections.
Benign prostate hyperplasia is normally treated with a number of drugs which reduce the swelling and relieve the pressure on the urinary tract. While in and of itself it is not a normally life threatening condition, left untreated it can cause complications which may be. It is therefore important for all males to have regular prostate exams starting around the age of forty-five. If you have any of the symptoms of this disease it is also important to visit your doctor as soon as possible.
To learn more about Prostate Health please visit the website Prostate Health Answers by clicking here.
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