By Joel Hirschhorn
Published June 21, 2007.
As they grow older, men and the women that love them learn to become concerned about prostate cancer that virtually all men will develop, if they live long enough. But millions of men at relatively young ages suffer from a chronic disease, though less deadly, that causes considerable suffering. It is prostatitis, periodic inflammation of that devilish prostate organ. When you Google prostatitis you get about 1.6 million hits, demonstrating that this condition is indeed a serious affliction. In fact, it affects 2 million men annually in the United States.
To sufferers of prostatitis trying to cope with pain and considerable urination problems, prostate cancer seems a distant fear. According to one study, men with prostatitis have a diminished quality of life that is on par with those who have recently suffered a heart attack.
As The Prostatitis Foundation correctly notes on its website (www.prostatitis.org): "The current state of scientific and medical knowledge about prostatitis is not very good, as any honest doctor will admit." As a long term sufferer of prostatitis that has seen many urologists, I can attest to the truth of this statement. The causes of prostatitis remain obscure. Worse yet, there is no terrific medical cure and, even worse, what is prescribed for symptomatic relief is often marginally effective at best.
Men afflicted with this disease will learn over the long haul to accept their ugly fate and hope against hope that offered medical remedies will, at best, reduce the frequency of attacks and, when they do hit, moderate their effects and duration.
This is one disease where even conventional physicians have, for the most part, recognized a herbal remedy. Both for preventing prostate cancer and fighting prostatitis, all men should take saw palmetto extract several times a day. Many companies sell saw palmetto combined with some other herbal compounds. These should also be considered.
This is also a case where a remarkable prescription medicine has been a godsend to prostatitis sufferers like me. It is Flomax (tamsulosin hydrochloride), a drug/alpha blocker that greatly reduces the urgency, hesitation, frequency and discomfort of urination. Many men should be taking this drug daily along with saw palmetto permanently.
One of the great debated issues is whether antibiotics really work. Based on my experience and extensive reading of the technical literature, the odds are against antibiotics working, though many urologists insist on prescribing them, often for long times, even when laboratory tests find no evidence of a bacteriological infection. Nearly 95% of patients are thought to develop prostatitis from nonbacterial causes, which have yet to be identified. This is critically important, because treatment of nonbacterial prostatitis is extremely difficult, and no one treatment has been proven to improve symptoms for most men, as most sufferers will attest to.
One theory that I find especially interesting is this: Prostatitis may be caused by an autoimmune disorder. The immune system mistakenly attacks healthy prostate tissue and promotes inflammation, similar to the way rheumatoid arthritis targets the joints.
There are also various non-prescription, herbal and relatively expensive remedies marketed to the millions of men suffering with prostatitis. Desperation will lead most men to trying some of these. The Prostatitis Foundation website offers information on obtaining a month's supply of one of the more popular remedies for just the cost of postage and handling. A number of ordinary lifestyle changes are also worth considering, especially eliminating coffee and spicy foods.
Besides the normal digital rectal examination, cystoscopy is a routine diagnostic examination necessary to rule out prostate cancer and other possible causes of symptoms. Though terribly uncomfortable, it is necessary to put up with the discomfort of an instrument being inserted into the penis to reach the bladder.
Prostatitis is certainly not an everyday topic of conversation for most people. But it is one of the most debilitating diseases ruining the quality of life of millions of men and their families. Now you know more about it.
Associated Content Inc, USA http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/276526/living_with_prostatitis_disease.html
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