Here’s what you should look for—and the best treatments to consider
There are plenty of studies on how common chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and lung conditions affect men. But researchers inexplicably continue to neglect one of men’s most frequent health concerns—especially as we get older… I’m talking about prostate disease.
In the past, prostate health tended to be a taboo topic that men didn’t like to discuss or deal with. Now that the taboo has been lifted and prostate disease is finally getting some (although not enough) attention, almost all of the concern has centered on prostate cancer screening, treatment, and the problem of fake, or overdiagnosed, “cancers.”
That’s why today, I’d like to talk about one common, but rarely discussed, prostate health condition, and how you can safely navigate treating it.
Frequent—but neglected—prostate conditions
In the November 2018 issue of Insiders’ Cures, I discussed benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH (“Urgent warning for men: The shocking reason you need to pay attention to your prostate—even if you’re symptom free”). To revisit this story, simply go to www.DrMicozzi.com.
Today, I’m focusing on prostatitis, which has similarities—but also key differences—to BPH.
Like BPH, prostatitis involves enlargement of the prostate. But unlike BPH, this enlargement is caused by inflammation (rather than hormone fluctuations, as theorized with BPH). And while BPH often doesn’t have any symptoms, prostatitis can result in painful urination and/or ejaculation, and even generalized groin or abdominal pain.
But not every man with prostatitis has these symptoms, making it difficult even for doctors to tell the difference between BPH and prostatitis.
Based on simple statistics, your prostate condition is more likely to be BPH if you’re over age 50, and prostatitis if you’re under 50. I’ll tell you why in just a moment.
The types of prostatitis
There are two kinds of prostatitis: bacterial and chronic.
Bacterial prostatitis is frequently caused by E. coli bacteria in the urinary tract. This bacteria normally lives in the GI tract, and just as it can migrate to the bladder in women (causing cystitis), it can also contaminate the urinary tract in men and trigger prostatitis.
Often, this urinary tract contamination is due to sexual activity, which is why bacterial prostatitis tends to be more common in younger, more sexually active men.
If you have bacterial prostatitis, along with the symptoms listed above, you may also have symptoms of infection like fever, chills, joint and muscle pain, and fatigue.
Then there’s chronic prostatitis, which is less straightforward. We don’t really know what causes this condition (again, it’s been a neglected area of men’s health), but we know it’s not bacteria.
Both types of prostatitis are relatively easy to diagnose during a digital rectal exam, during which your doctor will insert his or her index figure in your rectum to examine the size, texture, and firmness of your prostate. Your doctor may also order urine and blood tests to check for infection.
Because prostatitis symptoms can be overlooked or confused with other diseases, it’s key that you get a digital rectal exam as part of your annual physical exam once you turn 50. If for some reason you have a doctor who doesn’t routinely do this exam, find another doctor right away.
The conventional—but dangerous—treatment for prostatitis
If your doctor suspects you have bacterial prostatitis, he or she will commonly prescribe one of the following treatment methods, each of which has its own set of precautions:
• Antibiotics: I always recommend you use sparingly, if at all, due to their effect on diminishing the “good” probiotic bacteria in your GI microbiome.
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (like Aleve®): I’ve written many times about the dangers of NSAIDs. For one, they increase your risk for heart attack or stroke, as well as liver and kidney damage. Not to mention, these drugs are associated with dangerous side effects in the GI tract, including ulcers, bleeding, and colon perforations.
If you must take an NSAID, I recommend ibuprofen or aspirin, as the benefits outweigh the risks.
• Anticholinergic agents: I’d steer clear of these entirely, especially considering a large new study found that these drugs substantially increase the risk of dementia in older adults, by as much as 54 percent. If that wasn’t enough, other reported side effects include dry mouth, constipation, urine retention, blurred vision, increased heart rate, confusion, and drowsiness.
Some doctors also prescribe BPH drugs for chronic prostatitis, including:
• Alpha blockers (like Flomax® and Rapaflo®): These are designed to relax the muscles in the prostate and bladder neck to allow urine to flow more freely. But these drugs have some serious side effects including erectile dysfunction, low blood pressure, nausea, weakness, and weight gain.
• Alpha-reductase inhibitors (like Prosca® and Avodart®): These are supposed to stop the prostate from growing, and can even shrink it. Like alpha blockers, these drugs can also cause erectile dysfunction, along with low sex drive and depression.
As in mainstream fashion, doctors will often prescribe even more drugs to lessen the side effects associated with these medications. Meanwhile, many continue to ignore the mounds of science-backed evidence demonstrating how easy lifestyle changes and natural substances can help relieve symptoms of prostatitis—with minimal or no side effects.
My simple, natural plan for preventing and reversing prostatitis
If you want to avoid the side effects of prescription drugs, know there are a variety of effective, safe, and natural ways to protect yourself from prostatitis—and BPH.
Of course, many of my prostatitis recommendations are similar to those I included in the November 2018 issue for BPH. And I’m only touching on them again because keeping your prostate healthy is just that important.
The first steps involve making some easy lifestyle changes. You should:
• Avoid prolonged sitting. This can irritate your prostate.
• Drink more water and stay hydrated (with rooibos, or aspal). This will help flush bacteria out of your urinary tract. I recommend 75 ounces for women and 100 ounces for men.
• Limit eating acidic foods. These may irritate your bladder.
• Practice mind-body therapies like biofeedback and acupuncture. These have been found to help relax the bladder muscles.
There are also dietary supplements that have been shown in clinical trials to be effective for both prostatitis and BPH. You can find these supplements in your local pharmacy, grocery store, health supplement retailer, or online:
• Quercetin – 1,000 mg per day
• Rye grass pollen extract – 500 mg per day
• Saw palmetto berry extract – 900 mg doses per day. NOTE: Choose a supplement that contains 100 mg of beta-sitosterol (the plant’s main active ingredient).
It’s not surprising that these recommendations can also help prevent virtually every chronic disease. In that way, your prostate is no different than any other gland, organ, or tissue in your body or brain.
That said, your prostate has unique conditions and challenges, and an integrative approach is absolutely necessary for complete protection.
In fact, I’m outlining this exact approach in my latest project: a comprehensive, science-backed prostate protocol that will address all aspects of prostate health. Specifically, it will tell you how to recognize, rein in, and even reverse prostate conditions we traditionally don’t hear too much about—but are increasingly prevalent in men over age 50.
As always, you’ll be the first to know when this new prostate protocol is available. Stay tuned right here for the latest updates.