A Word with the DOCTOR
by Dr John Winsor
The Sunday Times of Malta

Trouble with the ‘water works’

MOST MEN of 60 and over find that they are having to plod their way to the smallest room in the house in the early hours.

The prostate gland tends to get bigger with age. It is situated near the bladder and, when enlarged, can force the patient to relieve an irritated bladder, resulting in nightly trips across the landing to the lavatory.

Since older people are usually light sleepers, these nocturnal disturbances can spoil many a night's complete rest and eventually the patient begins to suffer from a prolonged loss of sound sleep.

Gradually, the patient will not only have to urinate more frequently but will also suffer from a sense of urgency and have to constantly keep within hailing distance of a lavatory.

As the patient gets older, the patient may not be able to urinate at all, which can be an agonising experience.

Whatever the severity of the symptoms, the patient must not try to remedy the situation by cutting down on his fluid intake, this will make matters worse. Instead, restrict drinking time to the earliest part of the day and do not drink tea or coffee after about 8 p.m. Spicy foods and alcohol should also be avoided.

If life becomes really intolerable for the patient the best treatment is probably surgical, provided his heart, blood vessels and blood pressure are within normal limits.

Removal of the prostate gland is usually a safe and successful operation - probably in as many as 98 per cent of selected cases.

There is always the possibility that enlargement of the gland is due to a cancerous growth. In this case, surgery will be necessary, combined with medication, but the patient stands a good chance of complete recovery.

However, enlargement of the prostate gland is so common in old age that it can almost be described as normal. But anyone beginning with even mild symptoms should get advice from the doctor before any serious complications occur.