If you are a middle-aged male or know one, you know that it gets harder to urinate as you get older. You may get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. This condition is usually caused by an enlarged prostate, officially known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. By age 60, half of all men will have an enlarged prostate.
BPH is so common that experts say that all men will have an enlarged prostate if they live long enough. As a man's prostate enlarges, the gland presses on and pinches the urethra. This enlargement makes the bladder become thicker. Ultimately, the bladder starts to weaken and loses the ability to empty, leaving some urine in the bladder.
Risk Factors for BPH
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says several factors may make it more likely for a man to develop benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). These factors include:
- Being aged 40 or older
- Having a family history of BPH
- Obesity, heart and circulatory disease, and type 2 diabetes
- lack of physical exercise
- erectile dysfunction
Several symptoms are indicative of BPH. They include:
- Weak or an interrupted urine stream
- Dribbling following urination
- Frequent need to urinate at night when you’re asleep
- Frequent need to urinate throughout the day
- Pain when urinating
- Trouble starting a urine stream
- Urinary urgency—the inability to delay urination
Men who have prostate cancer may have a higher amount of PSA ( a prostate protein) in their blood. Yet, a high PSA level does not necessarily indicate a person has prostate cancer.
High PSA levels can be caused by many problems, including BPH, aging, infections, and inflammation. However, while BPH does not increase a person's risk of cancer, the symptoms are often similar to prostate cancer. For this reason, ignoring BPH is not recommended.
There are several available treatments for BPH, but the most common and usually effective are lifestyle changes and medications. On occasion, surgery is recommended.
A transurethral resection of the prostate is called a TURP, sometimes jokingly referred to as a roto-rooter! The surgery removes parts of the prostate gland through the penis. However, no incisions are needed. John Hopkin's University Medicine says a surgeon reaches the prostate by inserting an instrument into the end of the penis and through the urethra. This instrument, called a resectoscope, is about 12 inches long and.5 inches in diameter.
There are several other procedures and surgeries that are available to alleviate BPH symptoms.
BPH and Prostate Cancer
There is no link to cancer and BPH outside of similar symptoms that many men often ignore. However, prostate cancer is common. According to the National Cancer Institute, by age 50, very few men have symptoms of prostate cancer, yet they may have precancerous or cancer cells already present. By the time a man reaches age 80, half of all American men have some cancer in their prostate glands.
The standard test for prostate cancer is something most men dread, the Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). A doctor will feel the prostate from the rectum. Patients are not usually comfortable, and doctors probably don't enjoy it either. However, the test lasts only about 10-15 seconds. It can save your life.
PSA testing is also used as high PSAs can be indicative of prostate cancer.
If your symptoms and testing results suggest prostate cancer, your doctor will recommend a prostate biopsy. For a biopsy, a urologist will take small tissue samples taken directly from the prostate.
Prostate Cancer Treatment
If it is prostate cancer, an individual usually has three primary treatment options. These options are:
- Active surveillance
- Radiation therapy
According to the American Cancer Society, about 191,930 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year. Since prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men ignoring prostate health is not a good idea.
Are You Prepared for the Changes in Your Health?
We all experience changes in our health, bodies, and even our memories as we get older. Men tend not to be as proactive with their health as they should. By the time they know they have a problem, it is often too late.
Many men read articles about the consequences of aging, changing health, and long-term care. Some have the attitude that their wives will take care of them. The problem is spouses are not the best caregivers, nor are adult children, especially when you are older.
Many of these age and health changes increase the risk of long-term health care. The cost of extended care is expensive and gets more costly every year. There are many articles about long-term health care since it affects so many families. Most families are not prepared. When a loved one needs care, it is already a crisis, and the options are limited, at best.
Start Being Proactive Now
Preparing your family and finances for future long-term care starts with two things - being proactive with your health and well-being and planning for the costs and burdens of aging with affordable Long-Term Care Insurance.
LTC Insurance will give you access to your choice of quality care - including in-home care. A spouse or family member will not be pushed into the role of being a caregiver, which is physically and emotionally demanding.
Experts suggest obtaining coverage in your 40s or 50s when you still enjoy good health and premiums are lower. Find a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you navigate the many options and find the best coverage at the lowest cost. Don't depend on a financial advisor or general insurance agent that may push you into an expensive plan you don't need - or worse, tell you to forget about it.
Be proactive with your health, your family, your assets, and plan on a long successful future retirement.
About the Author
Linda is a freelance writer interested in retirement planning, health and aging.
Contributor since October 31st, 2017
An LTC policy keeps you in control and helps avoid becoming dependent on your children decades from now. You will have access to guaranteed tax-free benefits that will pay for your choice of quality care, either in-home or in a facility.
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