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The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It resembles the walnut in the size and shape and is located below the urinary bladder. The prostate gland is mainly responsible for the production of the milky fluid known as semen.

What is the prostate gland, and what are the most common prostate problems?

What is the prostate gland?

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It resembles the walnut in the size and shape and is located below the urinary bladder (the organ which collects urine). The prostate gland is mainly responsible for the production of the milky fluid known as semen which carries the sperms.

What are the most common prostate problems?

The prostate gland generally undergoes age related changes. It generally begins to grow in size as age progresses and can result in increased pressure on the nearby organs such as the bladder or the urethra. The prostate gland is also prone to develop tumours, especially during old age.

Other conditions such as infections and inflammation (swelling) are commonly noted in younger and middle aged adults. In some cases impotence and urinary incontinence (inability to hold urine) are also associated with some underlying disorder in the prostate gland. Majority of the prostate problems in young and middle aged adults are not associated with cancer, while prostate cancer is the one of common cancers noted in older adults.

What are the symptoms associated with prostate problems?

Majority of the individuals who have prostate problems are generally aged above 50-60 years. However, some conditions such as infections and inflammation of the prostate gland can be noticed in adults less than 50 years also. Most of the symptoms associated with the prostate gland problems may be identified by the affected individual himself or are generally discovered by the healthcare professional during certain routine examinations. The increase in the size of the prostate gland can cause the compression of the nearby structures such as the urinary bladder and urethra resulting in most of the symptoms associated with prostate problems.

Most of the men below the age of 50 years suffer from a condition known as prostatitis. This is an inflammatory condition of the prostate gland wherein the prostate gland is inflamed and commonly results in symptoms such as generalised discomfort, pain in the pelvic region, increased or decreased frequency of urination and in some instances, fever. Burning sensation or pain during urination has also been noted in other cases.

In case of men above 50 years enlargement of the prostate gland is the most common problem associated with the prostate gland. This enlargement may either be cancerous or non-cancerous. Such enlargement of the prostate gland is generally associated with symptoms such as frequent urge to urinate, trouble to start urinating even though there is an urge to urinate, reduced amount of urination, uncontrolled urination or frequent dribbling of urine and presence of small amount of blood in the urine.

What are the consequences of prostate problems on general health?

The amount of influence that prostate problems have on general health and living is based on the severity of the prostate problem. In most of the cases with mild symptoms the quality of life is not much affected though anxiety and depression can result due to the symptoms associated with prostate health. Pain during ejaculation or impotence can hamper the sexual life of the affected individuals.

Inability to control urine may make an individual restrict himself from attending social gatherings or meeting other people. The pain associated with the prostate problems can sometimes be severe enough to restrict the affected individual from performing day to day activities. Presence of cancer is considered to be the most serious condition which is associated with severe consequences such as spread of the cancer to adjacent organs and also death in some cases.

Untreated prostate problems can lead to increase in the severity of the symptoms. The inflammation of the prostate gland is also frequently associated with occurrence of infections that tend to result in other associated conditions. Untreated infections can spread to nearby organs resulting severe infections that may need hospitalisations. Prostate cancer if left untreated can result in the death of the affected individuals.

What are the treatments available for prostate problems?

The treatment of the prostate problems varies with the type and severity of the underlying prostate problem. The diagnosis of such prostate problems is based on several tests such as physical examination of the prostate gland, blood tests, urine tests, x-ray images, ultrasound scan, test for urine flow, cystoscopy (examination with a thin tube like instrument with camera fitted) and biopsy of the prostate gland. These tests are useful in identifying the underlying cause of the prostate problem and plan the treatment accordingly.

Most of the infections and inflammations of the prostate gland are treated with the use of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medications. In case of enlargement of the prostate gland, the treatment varies with the severity of the condition and can range from watchful waiting to surgical removal of the prostate gland. Watchful waiting is considered in individuals with a mild form of enlargement wherein periodic examinations and administration of certain medications to treat the symptoms are advised.

Minimal surgical or non-surgical procedures refer to a group of minimally invasive procedures that are performed to relieve the inflammation and enlargement of the prostate gland under local anaesthesia. Such procedures do not require the individual undergoing treatment to be admitted in a hospital. These procedures may used to destroy the excess prostate tissue impinging on the nearby structures or alter the urethra to enable proper urination. Severe cases of prostate enlargement or prostate cancer may require the removal of the affected portions of the prostate gland or the entire prostate gland.

The treatment options are based on the severity of the prostate problem and the affected individual is explained about the different options available to treat the problem he is suffering from.

Read More: Can Dietary Fat Help Men Survive Prostate Cancer?

How can one keep the prostate gland healthy?

Maintenance of the general health also prevents prostate problems. Regular exercise and following a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle can prevent majority of the problems including cancers. As the exact reason for the occurrence of prostate cancers is not known no specific preventive steps have been advised. Nevertheless several natural herbs and supplements are now available that may have a benefit in cancer prevention.

Another important point to be remembered is the early detection of symptoms and getting prompt treatment. Prostate problems are associated with a wide number of symptoms and signs that are explained above. One should not ignore these symptoms and meet the healthcare provider as soon as these symptoms are noted. Early detection and prompt treatment can reduce the number of complications associated with prostate problems and help individuals lead a normal life.