I Have Enlarged Prostate Symptom: What Now?

If you're a male over the age of 50 and you are experiencing the symptoms of enlarged prostate—restricted urine flow, frequent need to urinate, dribbling or "leaking" after urination, blood in the urine, or other urinary difficulties—chances are good that you have an enlarged prostate gland. What do you need to know, and what should you do? Fortunately, your problem is one shared by lots of other men your age. In fact, the National Institute of Health estimates that about half of the male population of age 60 or more experiences enlarged prostate or its symptoms. You are definitely not alone.

See Your Doctor

If you're having the symptoms of enlarged prostate, the first thing to do is consult your physician. One of the first ways that doctors determine the existence of enlarged prostate is by performing a digital-rectal examination (DRE). This simple test, which usually takes less than a minute, involves the doctor inserting a lubricated, gloved finger into the patient's rectum. The doctor probes the prostate gland through the rectal wall, assessing its size and consistency. Healthy prostate tissue feels pliant and springy, like the webbing between the thumb and index finger. Unhealthy prostate tissue feels hard, grainy, or uneven. If the doctor determines that unhealthy prostate tissue is present, he or she will probably recommend further testing. In many cases, however, the prostate, though enlarged, contains healthy tissue. In such instances, your doctor may recommend medication or mildly invasive treatment to alleviate the discomfort of enlarged prostate symptoms.

What if That's Not Enough?

If your doctor believes that unhealthy tissue is present, he or she may recommend a series of further tests to help rule out more serious conditions. One of the first tests that are often used is a blood test to reveal the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) in the body. The PSA test, in fact, is a good idea for all men over age 50, as a part of their annual medical screening. PSAs are produced by the cells of the membrane covering the prostate, and are often present in elevated quantities in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH—another term for enlarged prostate). PSAs can also be an important early warning for prostate cancer. However, just because you have high PSAs doesn't necessarily mean you have cancer; it just means that you need additional testing to determine your actual condition.

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