Enlarged prostate symptoms rarely manifest before the age of 40. For some men, symptoms might not even occur at all. However, the condition called BPH or enlarged prostate affects almost 90 percent of men in their seventies and eighties, while more than 50 percent of men who reach their sixties experience symptoms.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy is a condition characterized by the enlargement of the prostate gland; a common occurrence since it is quite normal for men’s prostates to enlarge as they age. The growth of the prostate has two main phases; the first is during puberty, when the size of the gland doubles; and the second is at around age 25, when the gland starts growing again. The second growth phase often results in BPH years later. Some of the more common enlarged prostate symptoms include weak stream of urine, difficulty in starting urination, dribbling and leaking of urine, a strong and sudden desire to urinate especially at night, a feeling of not emptying the bladder, and in some cases, blood in the urine.
As a man’s prostate enlarges, the layer of tissue surrounding it prevents the gland from expanding which causes the gland to press against the urethra. The bladder wall becomes thicker and irritable resulting in contraction which causes frequent urination. Eventually, the bladder becomes weaker and might not be able to empty itself which could result in urine being trapped in the bladder. The narrowing of the urethra and the inability of the bladder to fully empty itself cause many of the problems associated with enlarged prostate.
The cause of enlarged prostate has yet to be fully understood. Since BPH occurs in older men and does not develop in those whose testes were removed during puberty, researchers believe that factors related to aging and the testes contribute to the development of the condition. Some studies have also theorized that BPH occurs because the amount of testosterone (male hormone) in the blood decreases as a man ages, leaving a higher proportion of estrogen (female hormone) which results in the increased activity of substances associated with cell growth.
Majority of BPH symptoms stem from urethral obstruction and gradual loss of bladder function. The extent by which a man’s prostate has grown does not always determine how severe the condition is. Some men with greatly enlarged prostate experience little problems and manifest few symptoms, while others whose prostates are less enlarged may have severe obstruction, more blockage and experience more discomfort or pain.
Despite similarities between prostate cancer and enlarged prostate symptoms, having the latter does not mean that chances of getting the former are increased. Researchers have not found any direct connection between BPH and prostate cancer, but it is still highly imperative that men over the age of 40, whether they have or do not have enlarged prostates, undergo a rectal exam to screen for prostate cancer.
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