Your prostate is a small gland that produces most of the fluid your semen is made from. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a condition characterized by an enlarged prostate.
It occurs when the prostatic cells multiply and cause the gland to swell in size. This increased size puts pressure on the urethra and interferes with urine flow. BPH is not the same as prostatic cancer, but the symptoms can be uncomfortable and interfere with your quality of life.
BPH is more common in men over the age of 50 and is considered to be a normal condition of aging. The exact cause, however, is not known.
The natural changes in sex hormones that are associated with aging are thought to play a role in the development of BPH, and family history of prostate problems also increases your risk. BPH does not occur in men that have had their testicles removed at an early age.
At first, the symptoms of BPH are mild, but if the condition is left untreated, they become more serious and uncomfortable. The most common symptoms include:
♦ A weak urinary system
♦ Incomplete bladder emptying
♦ A sudden need to urinate
♦ Painful urination
♦ Blood in the urine
♦ Need to strain when urinating
♦ Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Diagnosis
Your doctor will start with a physical examination and a discussion of your medical history. The physical exam will also involve some tests to analyze the shape and size of your prostate.
They may also run tests of your urine to check for bacteria or perform a prostatic biopsy to look for abnormalities in the tissue. Post-void residual testing is also done to verify if and how much urine is left in the bladder after urination.
Initially, you can treat BPH with self-care and remedies at home. If symptoms persist or worsen, then you need to re-visit with your doctor. When symptoms do not subside, medications and surgery may be recommended.
It is important to remember that your age and overall health will affect the prescribed treatment and its success. The medications most commonly prescribed for BPH are:
♦ Alpha-1 blockers: These work by relaxing the bladder muscles making it easier for urine to flow
♦ Hormone reduction drugs: These medications reduce hormone levels, such as testosterone. This can help decrease the size of the prostate to improve urine flow.
♦ Antibiotics: These are prescribed if your prostate becomes inflamed from bacterial prostatitis. This can help reduce inflammation and symptoms, but only when a bacterium is a cause.
A balanced and nutritious diet is recommended for men with BPH. Because the incidence of BPH increases with age, it is important to follow a healthy diet as you get older.
Certain foods have been found to impact the health of the prostate and can help reduce the problems associated with age-related prostate enlargement.
♦ Salmon: The omega-3 fatty acids in this fish help prevent inflammation that can trigger prostate enlargement
♦ Berries: All berries are full of antioxidants that prevent free radical damage known to trigger prostate inflammation
♦ Nuts: Nuts are full of zinc, which is a mineral found in the prostate that helps to balance testosterone and DHT
♦ Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, and kale contain the chemical sulforaphane, which targets cancer cells and protects the prostate.
Incorporating specific lifestyle changes into your routine can help relieve the symptoms of BPH. The following natural treatments are recommended:
♦ Urinating as soon as you feel the urge.
♦ Avoiding over-the-counter decongestants or antihistamines, which makes it difficult for the bladder to empty.
♦ Reducing stress levels because stress and nervousness increase the need to urinate.
♦ Getting regular exercise as obesity and inactivity can aggravate symptoms.
♦ Practicing Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor.
BPH and prostate cancer share similar symptoms, but prostate cancer is much more serious. More aggressive forms of this cancer require radiation therapy and chemotherapy and are not always treatable.
It is important to have your symptoms checked, and testing will be done to make sure you do not have prostate cancer. In most cases, prostate cancer needs immediate treatment, and delaying this can be fatal.
♦ BPH incidence increases significantly with age, affecting 70 percent of men over the age of 60.
♦ Each year in the United States, BPH affects 27 million men over the age of 50.
♦ Age-related prostate enlargement is the most common cause of BPH.
♦ 95 percent of men with BPH report unpleasant symptoms and reduced quality of life.
♦ Untreated BPH significantly increases your risk of renal failure.
When medications are not effective, surgery may be an option. There are different procedures used, and they can be invasive or minimally invasive. Procedures that can be done in your doctor’s office include:
♦ Transurethral needle ablation: Radio waves are used to shrink the prostate tissue.
♦ Transurethral microwave therapy: Microwave energy eliminates prostate tissue, and the gland shrinks.
♦ Water-induced thermotherapy: Excess prostate tissue is destroyed with heated water.
♦ High-intensity focused ultrasonography: Sonic energy eliminates excess tissue.
More invasive procedures (inpatient) need to be performed when you have additional problems, such as kidney stones, bladder stones, incontinence, or recurrent UTIs. These procedures can include:
♦ Transurethral resection of the prostate: Pieces of the prostate are removed using a small instrument that is inserted through the urethra.
♦ Transurethral incision of the prostate: A small incision in the prostate enlarges the bladder outlet and urethra, so urine flows at a better rate.
♦ Simple prostatectomy: The inner part of your prostate is removed, and the outer part remains. This procedure requires you to stay in the hospital for up to ten days.
BPH does not always need medical treatment, and self-care is often effective. Lifestyle changes are important in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life. In the event these do not work, medications and surgery are available.
BPH is not prostate cancer, but because symptoms are similar, you need to get your symptoms checked as soon as you become aware of them. With treatment, BPH is treatable, and you can live a healthy and normal life.