In recent times, awareness for the need to live healthy and adopt beneficial lifestyle is on the rise. As a result, more and more people are interested in ways that promote wellbeing. In men, huge attention is being paid to prostate health.
A very common phrase in many clinics is “Doctor, I think I have prostate” or “I am on treatment for prostate.” What many people mean by those statements is that they are on follow up with their doctors for disorders of the prostate or other related conditions.
It is important to note that the prostate is a gland naturally found in men. Women do not have a prostate gland. The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system and helps to make semen in which sperm is found. The healthy prostate is located in front of the rectum and under the bladder in close relation with the urethra. It has been described to have the size of a walnut. Physiologically, the prostate gland secretes fluid that adds volume to the semen.
Several disorders can affect the prostate such as inflammation, infection, increased size and cancer, amongst others.
Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland, which could be caused by infective or non-invasive factors. Some risk factors for prostatitis include previous prostatitis, infection, pelvic trauma, history of previous urethral catheterization, procedures involving the prostate gland like prostate biopsy. Prostate gland enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia) is very common with increasing age in men. The exact cause of prostatic enlargement is not known, however, certain factors like aging, family history and obesity among other factors.
When the prostate gland is enlarged, it can cause discomfort while the affected person is urinating because of its close relationship with the urethra through which urine passes. Sometimes an enlarged prostate can cause acute or chronic retention of urine, which occurs when the bladder is not voided of urine completely causing residual urine in the bladder. With retention, urinary tract infections can develop as the retained urine serves as medium for proliferation of bacteria. Prolonged retention of urine in the bladder may also result in bladder stones. Kidney damage could also occur. Prostate cancer is another condition that affects the prostate gland. The exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown.
However, certain risk factors like genetics, advanced age, family history, diet, to mention a few, can increase some people’s chances of developing prostate cancer.
Symptoms of prostatic disorders depend on the cause. Some common symptoms include painful or difficult urination, groin pain, painful ejaculation, low back pain, passage of cloudy urine or blood in the urine, increased urinary frequency, urgency to pass urine (known as nocturnal when it occurs at night), dribbling of urine after urination, straining while urinating, or interrupted urinary flow, and presence of blood in seminal fluid. In the case of prostatic cancer, symptoms experienced may vary depending on the stage of the disease. For instance, if metastasis has occurred additional symptoms from the affected organs or body structure will be experienced such as unexplained weight loss, fatigue, body weakness, body swelling, change in bowel habits and low back pain.
Diagnosis of any of the prostatic disorders is made after a thorough history and clinical examination by a medical practitioner, which may be accompanied with laboratory investigations. Treatment will also depend on the condition identified and the stage of presentation. Some cases may require watchful waiting, medical treatment or surgery. The modality and options of management will be explained to the individual involved.
A healthy prostate can be maintained by leading a healthy lifestyle which includes adequate diet (fruits, vegetables, healthy oils), avoiding excessive amounts of salt or sugar consumption, staying active through regular exercise, routine screening especially for men above 40 years and prompt visit to the doctor as soon as symptoms are noticed.
Health quote of the week:
“An educated, enlightened and informed population is one of the surest ways of promoting the health of a democracy”
– Nelson Mandela