By Gilda Morales, ANP, DC
Today’s column will address a condition that is found in almost every male over the age of 50, and is considered a part of the aging process. It is a progressive problem that causes the prostate to grow, compressing the urethra, the tube that drains urine from the kidneys. Common clinical symptoms include difficulty urinating, frequency and painful urination. There are other symptoms that can occur, including having to get up multiple times at night to void, dribbling and incontinence.
As the prostate continues to enlarge, there may be complications resulting in infections of the upper and lower urinary tracts and in more advanced, untreated cases, may cause bladder outlet obstruction, erectile dysfunction, and even acute renal failure.
Initial treatment is geared toward conservative measures and watchful waiting while the symptoms are mild, such as decreasing fluid intake, exercise and avoiding drugs that worsen symptoms like antihistamines, muscle relaxants and some antidepressants. If these interventions fail to help, medical treatment usually consisting of two main medications, known by their brand names of Avodart and Flomax.
Failure to respond to medication treatment calls for surgical procedures to reduce the size of the prostate or in some cases, removal of the prostate in those patients with extremely large prostates.