The prostate is a small muscular gland found in the male reproductive system. Anatomically, it surrounds the urethra and makes most of the fluid found in semen. Because it is muscular, it helps propel the fluid and semen through your penis during sexual climax. In men, there are times the prostate can become enlarged because of many factors like age. As the symptoms continue, they lead to a condition called benign prostatic enlargement (BPE). This condition is not very well understood and there are many misconceptions associated with it. To clear the air, it’s not caused by cancer. To understand it, it’s good to know what these terms mean:
● Benign-not cancerous.
● Prostatic-of prostate origin.
● Enlargement-an increase in size.
So, we can say that BPE is an abnormal enlargement of the prostate gland. We also know it as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Hyperplasia means an increase in the number of cells within a certain organ. When cells increase in number within the prostate, it causes enlargement. Before we analyze how BPH comes about and its symptoms, it’s worth knowing its random facts, and are:
• It is very common in men above 50 years of age. This means that its likelihood of developing an enlarged prostate increases with age.
• It is a very common condition that some say as long as you’re a man, you’ll develop BPH in your life if you’ll live until old age.
• Over 90% of men above 80 years have BPH.
• About 1 in 3 men over the age of 50 have urinary symptoms, which are mostly caused by an enlarged prostate.
What Are the Symptoms of BPH?
“When men have urinary problems, it’s hard to know the reason. They should see a doctor when anything changes because there can be bladder cancer, stones, prostate cancer, and BPH” Says Kevin Slawin, MD, a professor of urology at the Baylor School of Medicine in Houston. In men, urine flows from the bladder through the urethra. BPH blocks the flow of urine through the urethra, as the prostate cells gradually multiply. This enlargement creates pressure on the urethra, the tube through which semen and urine exit the body. As the urethra continues to narrow, it forces the bladder to contract more forcefully, to expel the urine and semen. As time goes by, the muscles of the bladder gradually become stronger, thicker, and overly sensitive. This then makes the bladder contract more frequently, making the muscles unable to withstand the pressure. This further narrows the urethra, keeping urine in the bladder. So, men become unable to urinate even when they feel the urge to. Because of this, the following symptoms are experienced:
● A weak or slow urinary stream.
● A feeling of incomplete bladder emptying.
● Difficulty starting urination.
● Frequent urination.
● The urgency to urinate.
● Getting up at night to urinate more often than before.
● Having a urinary stream that starts and stops.
● Straining to urinate.
● Continued dribbling of urinating.
● Returning to urinate again minutes after urinating.
One thing that you should know is that, when the bladder cannot empty completely, men become at risk of getting urinary tract infections. As this continues, symptoms worsen, leading to bladder stones, blood in the urine (hematuria), incontinence, and acute urinary retention. A sudden inability to urinate is usually a medical emergency, as it can damage the kidneys and bladder. Also, urine contains so many toxins, and failure to urinate makes these toxins accumulate in the body, causing severe effects.
How is BPH Diagnosed?
Doctors diagnose BPH using various tests, and the most common is the physical examination. In this test, the doctor may try to examine the size and shape of your prostate. From here, they can perform the following tests:
1. Urinalysis. This test examines blood and bacteria in the urine. Why? Because in a normal healthy person, urine is usually sterile and contains none of these things.
2. Cystoscopy. This test examines the urethra and bladder. It is through the insertion of a thin-lighted scope in the urethra.
3. Post-void residual. It shows the amount of urine left in the bladder after urination. If you have a lot of urine, then the diagnosis is confirmed.
4. Urodynamic test. This is performed when your bladder is filled with liquid via a catheter to measure your bladder’s pressure during urination.
5. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This is a blood test that checks cancer-causing cells in your prostate.
What Are the Complications of an Enlarged Prostate?
Urinary retention. As the disease progress, men may need a catheter to help them empty their bladders.
Urinary tract infection (UTIs). When someone cannot empty the bladder fully, he stands a chance of developing UTIs. If UTIs occur frequently, surgery may be needed to get rid of some parts of the prostate.
Bladder stones. Medics know it as urolithiasis as well. An inability to empty the bladder completely causes it. Urine contains salts that can sometimes calcify forming stones. These stones can then cause infection, irritation of the bladder, blood in the urine, and obstruction of how the urine flows.
Damage to the bladder. Continuous inability to empty the bladder can be dangerous. This happens because ideally, the bladder contracts, which becomes impossible with BPH. Failure to empty makes it overstretch as it tries to accommodate the excess urine. In the end, the walls become weak and can no longer contract properly.
Damage to the kidneys. Urinary retention exerts a lot of pressure on the bladder walls. This can directly damage the kidneys by rupturing their blood vessels and capillaries. Infections also contribute to further damaging of the kidneys.
What is the Natural Treatment of BPH?
Try to urinate as soon as you feel the urge. Why? Retaining urine may create more pressure in the bladder, causing pain and discomfort.
Avoid over-the-counter drugs like decongestants and antihistamines. Why? They make it difficult for your bladder to empty.
Avoid taking alcohol, especially at night. Alcohol also can hinder the ability of the prostate muscle to relax, further irritating the bladder and making benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate symptoms worse.
Reduce caffeine intake because caffeine may act as a diuretic, so it increases how much, how often, and how urgently a person has to urinate. Cutting back on caffeine may improve urinary symptoms of BPH.
Reduce anything that gives you stress. Stress causes nervousness, which forces men to frequently feel the urge to urinate.
Keeping warm. Scientists suggest that inhospitable environments can make the symptoms worse.
Practicing Kegel exercise to strengthen your pelvic muscles.
However, home remedies cannot work 100%, and therefore, sure medical drugs are recommended. The following medications can reduce the symptoms of BPH, which then promotes comfort, confidence, and a life free of pain.
Antibiotics. If you have an infection of the bladder, you may need antibiotics to treat bacterial prostatitis, which is the inflammation of the bladder. However, if the inflammation is not accused by bacteria, antibiotics may not help you. A good example of an antibiotic is nitrofurantoin.
Alpha-1 blockers. These medications are meant to relax muscles of the bladder and prostate as well. They relax the neck of the bladder, making it easier for the urine to flow out. Such drugs include doxazosin, terazosin, prazosin, etc.
Hormone reduction medication. You can as well use some medications that can help reduce the hormones produced by an active prostate gland. Such medications include dutasteride and finasteride. The lowering of this hormone makes the prostate get smaller and improves the urine flow. However, this medication may cause impotence and decreased sex drive.
Conclusion. BPH is a common condition in men over 50 years. It rarely needs medication. The best way you can stay safe with it is to go for regular checkups where the doctor can monitor the symptoms and the size of your prostate gland. Your doctor may also help you develop a treatment plan that helps you manage your symptoms. People can enjoy life with BPH when symptoms are well controlled, and this explains why it’s important to discuss any symptoms with your doctor, no matter how minor they may seem.