What Is BPH?
BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasia, is a medical condition affecting men whose prostate glands have grown beyond their normal size. This occurrence is extremely common with roughly half of the entire male population experiencing symptoms of BPH by 60 years of age.1
Symptoms of BPH
When the prostate continues to grow larger over time, this buildup of excess tissue can begin to press on nearby structures such as the urethra. When the urethra becomes compromised, it can become extremely difficult to sense normal urinary functions. This decreased sensitivity often results in:
- Sudden strong urges to urinate
- A weak urine stream
- Accidental leakage of urine
- An irregular flow that involuntarily stops and starts during urination
- Straining while urinating
- Much more frequent urinary urges, especially during nighttime hours
While these symptoms may be mild at first, as a man with BPH continues to age, his prostate will only continue to grow and lead to worsening symptoms. These effects can not only impair a man’s physical health, but often take a significant emotional toll as many individuals become embarrassed by frequent trips to the restroom or accidents around others.
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BPH Risk Factors
There is no single cause for an enlarged prostate, though men who possess the following characteristics are at an increased risk of developing the condition:
- Being obese
- Having been diagnosed with diabetes
- A family history of BPH or other problems with the prostate
- Having some form of heart disease
- Being of a more mature age (60 years+)
In addition to known factors that can increase a man’s risk of developing BPH, there are also several risk factors to consider if he foregoes treatment for an enlarged prostate. Although there is no guarantee, individuals who struggle with bladder function are at risk of encountering:
- Inflammation of the prostate
- A urinary blockage
- Kidney stones
- Bladder stones
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
If these side effects become a recurring problem, the person is likely to sustain serious damage to their kidneys, bladder, or other parts of their urinary system.
Non-Invasive Treatment Options for BPH
In most cases, patients will be first recommended for non-invasive solutions to manage their symptoms of BPH. These include:
- Watchful waiting: If the patient is able to handle their symptoms without any interruption to their day-to-day routine, then treatment may not be necessary. If diagnosed during this stage, most physicians will continue to monitor their patient’s condition and suggest additional measures if and when they are needed.
- Lifestyle changes: Small changes in daily habits can offer some beneficial results to those with BPH. These can include reducing stress levels, eliminating caffeine and alcohol from one’s diet, and not consuming liquids during evening hours to avoid needing to urinate in the middle of the night. Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines and decongestants have also been known to aggravate these symptoms and should be avoided if possible.
- Prescribed medications: There are also a number of known medications that work to relax the muscles of the bladder and prostate to make urination less difficult or painful. A particular group of drugs called alpha blockers have also been shown to reduce the size of the prostate by blocking hormones to the gland, though these results are not guaranteed for every patient who tries alpha blockers.
Minimally Invasive Procedures to Treat BPH
For patients who require more considerable treatment for their BPH but are not ready to undergo surgery, there are specialized procedures to explore. These procedures focus on attaining effective results without requiring invasive incisions or a lengthy recovery process, making them an exceptional option to evaluate with your physician. These minimally invasive procedures include:
- Rezūm Water Vapor Therapy
- GreenLight Laser Therapy
Surgery for an Enlarged Prostate
There are, of course, more traditional methods to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate, such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) and prostatectomy. These surgical options typically involve the removal of excess prostate tissue through one or more incisions.
Patients best suited for surgery are often those who have suffered significant damage to the prostate or urinary system and are unable to achieve satisfactory results with other treatment methods.
1.Barry M, Roehrborn C. Management of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Ann Rev Med. 1997 Feb;48:77-189.
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