BPH and Your Urinary Health
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the enlargement of the prostate gland. This condition is also known as prostatic hypertrophy. BPH occurs when the prostate gland, which sits at the exit of the bladder and surrounds part of the urethra, grows so large that it begins to put pressure on the urethra.
What Causes BPH?
The prostate gland has two growth cycles. The first happens at puberty when the male body starts producing large amounts of hormones and causes the prostate to double in size. The next growth cycle starts around the age of 25, but is very slow and continues over the male’s lifespan. Dr. Jones explains, “genetics can play a role in growth rates causing some men to have more severe symptoms earlier in life than others.” Generally speaking, men over the age of 50 will likely experience some mild symptoms of BPH, though troublesome symptoms are not common in men younger than 60.
Symptoms of BPH
Patients in the Staunton area experiencing any of the following symptoms should bring these to the immediate attention of their urologist. Prolonged symptomatic BPH that is untreated can lead to more serious conditions of the bladder and kidneys. Speak with your Blue Ridge Urological doctor if you are experiencing any or all of the following symptoms:
- Hesitation when starting urination
- Difficulty stopping mid-stream and restarting
- Dribbling at the end of urination
- Urgency to urinate
- Increased frequency of urination during the day or night
- Not being able to completely empty the bladder
BPH is diagnosed in two ways. A simple blood test can check the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level. BPH can cause this value to be more than double normal levels. In addition to a PSA, a digital rectal exam, in which the doctor palpates the prostate, is necessary to evaluate the prostate’s size. Both results, along with the patient’s degree of symptoms, are considered when deciding treatment options.
According to Dr. Jones, “lifestyle plays a role in prostate health.” Patients with diets high in zinc and fat have a very high risk of developing BPH. Patients with diets high in fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of developing BPH. Also, patients who regularly take antihistamines and decongestants are at a higher risk of developing BPH. Patients undergoing treatment for BPH should eliminate as many risk factors as possible from their regular habits to aid in the effectiveness of treatment.
Medications are available to help reduce the size, or at least stop the growth, of the prostate. The size of the prostate and severity of the patient’s symptoms will dictate if other treatment options are needed in addition to the medication.
Depending on the degree of the blockage, the urologist may need to artificially stabilize the urethra. There are a variety of techniques to achieve this. The urologist will determine which technique is best for the patient.
Prostatectomy, or the surgical removal of all or some of the prostate gland, is a last resort treatment for BPH. Before surgery is an option, the patient must be unsuccessful with all other forms of treatment. The patient’s overall health and well-being must be considered before a patient can be a surgical candidate. The urologist will determine if a patient requires surgery.
Contact Blue Ridge Urological Associates today if you have symptoms of BPH or concerns about your prostate health and schedule a consultation with one of our experts.