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- What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?
- Diagnosing Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
- What Causes Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?
- Help for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
- More Information on Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (also called BPH) is a condition that affects the prostate gland in men. The prostate is a gland found between the bladder and the urethra, and as a man ages, the prostate gland slowly grows bigger and enlarges. The term "benign" means that the enlargement isn't caused by cancer or infection.
The term "hyperplasia" means enlargement. Due to the position of the prostate, as it gets bigger it may put increasing pressure on the urethra. This may then cause a variety of problems in the urinary system, most of all causing the flow of urine to be slower and less forceful.
Gradually, in most cases, the symptoms of BPH start with the need to get up more often at night to urinate or the need to empty the bladder often during the day. A man may find he has difficulty in starting the urine flow, dribbling after urination ends, and the size and strength of the urine stream also decreases.
It is important to remember that urinary symptoms may be signs of more serious diseases, such as a bladder infection, urinary tract infection or bladder cancer. If you are concerned, it is always best to seek medical advice and a proper diagnosis.
Diagnosing Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
It is important that your doctor take a complete history of your symptoms. The next step will consist of a rectal exam, where your doctor checks your prostate by putting a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to feel the back of your prostate gland. Although this may sound rather alarming, it is only mildly discomforting and only takes a few minutes.
This exam allows your doctor to feel the size of the prostate gland. To make sure that your prostate problem is benign; your doctor may need to look at a sample of your urine for signs of infection. Your doctor may also order a blood test. An ultrasound exam or a biopsy of the prostate may also be performed to help your doctor make a proper diagnosis.
What Causes Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?
The enlargement of the prostate is an inevitable byproduct of aging. Increased growth of prostate cells usually takes place after age 40. As the prostate grows around the urethra, it may eventually start to squeeze the urethra, which can cause the bladder to contract, even when it is almost empty and when this happens, you urinate frequently and may also experience a weak urine flow.
Help for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
Once it has been confirmed that the growth and enlargement of the prostate gland is benign, treatment options can be recommended and investigated. Your doctor may also suggest that prior to further action, you wait to see if your symptoms improve. Some milder symptoms tend to improve of their own accord. If your symptoms get worse, your doctor may suggest a treatment option.
Surgery is considered the most effective treatment and is used in men with strong symptoms that persist after other treatments are tried. This is also the best way to diagnose and cure early cancer of the prostate. However, as with most invasive procedures, surgery does have risks, such as bleeding, infection or impotence and erectile dysfunction.
Conventional drug treatments include Finasteride (Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart) that block a natural hormone that makes the prostate enlarge, but they do not help all patients.
The side effects of finasteride are mild, but they usually affect sexual function. As with most conventional medications, side effects stop once the medicine is stopped. Alpha-blockers have been used for a long time to treat high blood pressure, but they can also help the symptoms of BPH, even in men with normal blood pressure.
Some of these drugs are terazosin (Hytrin), doxazosin (Cardura), tamsulosin (Flomax) and alfuzosin (Uroxatral). These medicines may not work in all men and the side effects of alpha-blockers include dizziness, fatigue and lightheadedness.
More Information on Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
Tips for those living with BPH
While it is important to keep hydrated throughout the day, limit your fluid intake after dinner or late at night.
Try to reduce the amount of alcohol and caffeine in your diet, and avoid them altogether after mid-afternoon. Caffeine and alcohol both have a diuretic effect that will increase urine flow.
If possible, avoid taking medication that stimulates the neck of the bladder and prostate. Conventional OTC decongestants including psuedoephidrine (Sudafed) are prime examples.
Also avoid drugs that weaken bladder contractions including some antihistamines such as Benadryl. Some antidepressants and antispasmodics may also weaken bladder contractions.
If you are taking diuretics for health reasons (usually heart problems or high blood pressure ask your doctor if it is possible to substitute for a similar medication of a natural variety, or at least reduce the dosage of your treatment.
Even if your bladder does not feel full, visit the bathroom at regular intervals throughout the day and use a bathroom at any available opportunity. Take your time urinating and concentrate on emptying your bladder as much as possible and never attempt to hold urine for prolonged periods of time.
Try to avoid situations that will not allow for regular use of bathrooms. For example, try to always take aisle seats and avoid any long journeys where no bathroom facilities will be available.
Regular ejaculation will also assist in shrinking the prostate.