An enlarged prostate is a condition often seen in older men and is caused by the enlargement of the prostate gland. The prostate gland supports the reproductive function in men and it wraps around the urethra.
The prostate grows as a boy matures and during puberty, the prostate can almost double in size. As a man reaches his mid-20s, the prostate gland grows again, often leading to an enlarged prostate later in life.
Causes and Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate, is generally not caused by an infection or cancer. As the prostate grows, it may press on the urethra causing it to narrow. The narrowing of the urethra can lead to difficulty in urination and other problems.
Statistics show that nearly 50 percent of men may have BPH by age 50 and this could increase to 75 percent by age 80. While there is no defined cause for the condition, experts believe that it could be due to an imbalance in the male sex hormones.
Some of the symptoms associated with BPH include:
The enlargement of the prostate puts pressure on the urethra and causes it to narrow. This narrowing of the urethra forces the bladder to contract more to push urine through the body, leading to difficulty during urination. Individuals may notice an inability to urinate, difficulty in controlling urine flow, frequent urination, a weak or intermittent flow of urine or pain and a burning sensation.
Blood in the urine:
Blood spots in your urine could be an indication of an enlarged prostate.
Pain in the lower back, upper thigh or hips:
Men with an enlarged prostate may feel constant or irregular pain in the lower back, upper thigh or hips.
When the bladder does not empty completely, it could lead to urinary tract infections and other issues like bladder stones and acute urinary retention or a complete inability to urinate. It is recommended to see a doctor immediately if the individual is unable to urinate. Bladder and/or kidney damage are some complications that could arise from BPH.
Strategies to Deal With an Enlarged Prostate
Try these strategies to help relieve symptoms of BPH:
Keep an eye on symptoms:
It is most often recommended to simply keep an eye on the symptoms and be proactive. For many men, the symptoms can reduce over time without any treatment. On the other hand, medication may be required for people with moderate symptoms. Surgery may be suggested for more severe incidents or if complications arise. Treatment may also be based on the patient’s need for a better quality of life.
If diagnosed with an enlarged prostate, the following self-care tips might help you manage the symptoms better and even keep them from worsening:
- Cutting down on alcohol and caffeine
- Avoiding too many liquids at a time
- Avoiding fluids within two hours of bedtime
- Trying to avoid over-the-counter cold and sinus medications that may worsen symptoms.
- Staying warm and exercising regularly
- Practicing Kegel exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor
- Relaxing and reducing stress
- Drinking cranberry juice (may help prevent urinary tract infections)
- Alpha 1-blockers may help manage the condition by relaxing the muscles of the bladder and prostate.
- Finasteride and dutasteride may lower the levels of hormones produced by the prostate, reduce the size of the prostate gland, increase urine flow rate and decrease symptoms of BPH. But it may take three to six months before any improvement can be noticed. These medications may, however, have side effects like a decreased libido and impotence.
- Prostate surgery may be recommended for individuals with:
Alternative options include:
- Saw palmetto, a herbal cure that may reduce the symptoms of BPH.
- Stinging nettle extract, in combination with other herbs (especially saw palmetto), may be effective in relieving certain symptoms.
- Pygeum may reduce the frequent urge to urinate, especially in the night and also reduce pain during urination.
Though BPH is not a life-threatening condition, it can cause inconveniences and complications like urinary tract infections, bladder stones and kidney damage. Fortunately enough, once diagnosed, its symptoms can be managed with medications and small lifestyle changes.
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