Monday, April 27, 2009
The prostate is a small organ about the size of a walnut. It is found below the bladder (where urine is stored) and surrounds the tube that carries urine away from the bladder (urethra). The prostate makes a fluid that becomes part of semen. Semen is the white fluid that contains sperm.
Prostate problems are common in men age 50 and older. Sometimes men feel symptoms themselves, or sometimes their doctors find prostate problems during routine exams. Doctors who are experts in diseases of the urinary tract (urologists) diagnose and treat prostate problems.
There are many different kinds of prostate problems. Many don't involve cancer, but some do. Treatments vary but prostate problems can often be treated without affecting sexual function.
Signs of Prostate Problems
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Blood in urine or semen
- Painful or burning urination
- Difficulty in urinating
- Difficulty in having an erection
- Painful ejaculation
- Frequent pain or stiffness in lower back, hips, or upper thighs
- Inability to urinate, or
- Dribbling of urine
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away to find out if you need treatment.
There are several prostate problems including:
- Acute prostatitis is an infection of the prostate caused by bacteria. It usually starts fast and can cause fever, chills, or pain in the lower back and between the legs. It also can cause pain when you urinate. If you have these symptoms, see your doctor right away. Antibiotic drugs usually help heal the infection and relieve the symptoms. Your doctor also may suggest that you drink more liquids.
- Chronic prostatitis is a prostate infection that keeps coming back time after time. Symptoms may be milder than in acute prostatitis, but they can last longer. Chronic prostatitis can be hard to treat. Antibiotics may work if bacteria are causing the infection. But if bacteria are not the cause, antibiotics won't work. Massaging the prostate sometimes helps to release fluids. Warm baths also may bring relief. Often chronic prostatitis clears up by itself.
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the term used to describe an enlarged prostate. BPH is common in older men. Over time, an enlarged prostate may block the urethra, making it hard to urinate. It may cause dribbling after you urinate or a frequent urge to urinate, especially at night. Your doctor will conduct a rectal exam to diagnose BPH. The doctor also may look at your urethra, prostate, and bladder.
- Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among American men. It is more common among African American men than white men. Treatment for prostate cancer works best when the disease is found early.
SOURCE: National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health