Prostate health often changes as men age. As a result, certain harmless and, unfortunately, more serious medical conditions can develop.
It is important for men to know about the different health conditions that are related to prostate changes so that they can get the proper medical treatment. Luckily, most prostate conditions in aging men are treatable with medication, surgery or other forms of treatment.
Common Prostate Conditions Related to Aging
Most men do not begin to experience symptoms of health changes in the prostate gland until they reach their 40s or 50s. Certain prostate problems can continue to worsen as men age into their 60’s and 70’s.
Some of the most common prostate conditions that can develop from aging include:
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, occurs when the prostate enlarges. Since BPH is classified as benign, the condition is noncancerous. The enlargement of the prostate often causes an overgrowth of prostate tissue to obstruct urine flow because of the extra pressure on the bladder and urethra.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is another complication of having an enlarged prostate that some men experience. In more serious cases, BPH can result in problems of the kidneys and urinary tract. Doctors may diagnose the condition by taking blood tests, analyzing urine samples and performing digital rectal exams. Medications such as alpha blockers and combination drug therapies, as well as surgical procedures or laser therapy are often used to treat BPH.
Older men are more susceptible to this inflammation of the prostate gland. Acute bacterial and viral infections often lead to prostatitis. The condition may clear up on its own or recur frequently if chronic prostatitis develops.
Pain, frequent urination, painful ejaculation and blood in the urine are some of the most recognizable symptoms of prostatitis. Blood, urine and imaging tests can diagnose the condition. Antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat bacterial prostatitis. Alpha blockers and anti-inflammatory medications can also be taken for relief.
This form of cancer happens when cells in the prostate tissues change and multiply out of control. A noticeable tumor may take years to develop once the cells start changing, and prostate cancer symptoms in men under 50 are rare. If the tumor increases enough in size or spreads cancer cells to other parts of the body (metastasizes), the condition can be life-threatening.
Key symptoms include chronic back, hip or pelvic pain as well as problems urinating or finding blood in the urine or semen. Prostate cancer is usually diagnosed with digital rectal exams, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests or prostate biopsies. Fortunately, prostate cancer is often treatable if found early and can be eliminated with treatments like surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
How to Maintain Good Prostate Health
Even though good lifestyle habits are not always enough to prevent prostate problems, there are several ways to increase the chances of maintaining good prostate health.
- Eating plenty of vegetables and other foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can help keep the prostate healthy.
- Absorbing vitamin D from the sun (in moderation) or taking vitamin D supplements can also be beneficial.
- It is especially important for older men to get screened regularly for any prostate conditions, even if no symptoms are present.
Men can lead better lifestyles and seek the appropriate treatments by knowing the health conditions that may affect prostates as they age. By maintaining a healthier prostate, serious medical problems can potentially be avoided.