How Dangerous Is Having an Enlarged Prostate?

How Dangerous Is Having an Enlarged Prostate?

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The prostate gland surrounds the urethra, the hollow tube that carries urine out of the body. When the prostate gets bigger, it can squeeze or partially block the urethra, which leads to problems urinating.

While BPH can have serious complications, it is not cancer and is considered a usual part of men’s aging process. It is caused by changes in hormone balance and in cell growth. But if left untreated, BPH can lead to bladder, urinary tract or kidney problems.

Symptoms

Although many men with BPH have no symptoms, others show signs known as lower urinary tract symptoms. They can range from mild and barely noticeable to serious, but the amount of prostate enlargement is not directly connected to the severity of the symptoms.

Some symptoms may get worse because of cold weather or as a result of physical or emotional stress. Some over-the-counter medicines also can make BPH worse, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and oxymetazoline spray (Afrin). A number of prescription medications also can negatively impact BPH, such as antidepressants, water pills, and testosterone and pain medicine.

Some of the most common symptoms of BPH are:

  • Feeling pain during urination
  • Waking at night to urinate
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty starting a urine stream (hesitancy and straining)
  • Decreased strength of the urine stream, also known as weak flow
  • Dribbling after urination
  • Feeling that the bladder is not completely empty
  • Having the urge to urinate again soon after finishing

A person experiencing symptoms of BPH should contact his doctor immediately if:

  • There is blood or pus in his urine or semen
  • He is totally unable to urinate
  • He feels pain in his lower back, just below the rib cage, that is not related to an injury or physical effort

Diagnosis

A physician can diagnose BPH by asking questions about the sign and by doing a physical exam. A urine test and a digital rectal exam also may be essential.

In some cases, a prostate-specific antigen test is done to help rule out prostate cancer. Although prostate cancer and BPH are not connected, they can have some of the same symptoms.

If symptoms are mild to moderate and aren’t too bothersome, home treatment may be all that is needed to keep them under control. A doctor may need to be consulted regularly to check on symptoms and make sure other related problems haven’t come up.

Treatments

Because benign prostatic hyperplasia cannot be cured, the treatment focuses on reducing the symptoms. The treatment is based on how severe the symptoms are, how much they bother the patient and whether there are complications.

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