Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a common condition that affects all aging men to some degree. The prostate gland enlarges for a whole host of reasons, causing complications and uncomfortable side-effects. Half of the men over 50 have a 50% chance of developing BPH, while those over the age of 80 have a 90% chance. Symptoms of BPH can vary from man to man and can worsen over time, but there are various treatments available.
BPH increases the urge to urinate; urinary retention is the most significant symptom of an enlarged prostate gland. As well as being inconvenient, this can be uncomfortable and makes many activities of daily living difficult. One of the treatments available for urinary retention is bladder decompression, a procedure that involves inserting a catheter into the bladder to drain it. In very rare cases where bladder decompression doesn't work, you may need surgery to relieve it.
Urinary tract infections (UTI) are a less common symptom of BPH. Sometimes, the enlarged prostate can block the flow of urine from the bladder, preventing it from emptying completely. This gives bacteria the opportunity to develop in excess and lead to infection. The treatment for a UTI is usually a course of antibiotics, but if the UTI is secondary to the BPH, your doctor will treat the primary condition first.
Waking up many times during the night because you have to urinate is known as nocturia, a common urological condition that can arise as a result of an enlarged prostate. Frequent urination during the night interrupts sleep, leaving you tired during the day. People with a tendency to get nocturia, whether from BPH or another cause, can cut back on diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine, particularly in the hours before bed. Such beverages make the body produce more urine and can exacerbate the issue.
An enlarged prostate is the most common cause of weak urine flow in men over the age of 45. Urinary hesitancy happens because the urethra passes through the prostate. When the prostate is enlarged, it can block the urethra and obstruct the flow of urine. Almost all men have a weakening urine stream as they age. If you're experiencing urinary hesitancy due to BPH or another condition, taking steps to relax the bladder may help. Placing a hot water bottle against your bladder can make it easier for the urine to pass the prostate.
Feeling as though you need to urinate and not being able to can be a very uncomfortable symptom. In addition to sometimes causing urinary hesitancy, a blocked urethra can make it hard for urine to come at all. As noted earlier, difficulty voiding the bladder can result in a build-up of bacteria, and eventually, infection.
Bladder outlet obstructions occur when there is a blockage at the base or the neck of the bladder. When this happens, it can cause a back up of urine into the system. Treatment for bladder outlet obstructions often involve the insertion of a catheter, but most often need surgery.
Involuntary dribbles following urination can be uncomfortable and inconvenient and are common in men both with and without BPH. Post-micturition dribble—also known as terminal dribble or after-dribble—is a leakage of urine from the urethra seconds to minutes after passing urine.
Seeing blood in your urine is always worrisome, but it is generally harmless. Hematuria is when your urine appears to have a pink, red, or brownish tint to it, rather than clear. Bleeding can be microscopic or visible. Microscopic bleeding is only evident when your doctor looks at your sample through the microscope. Visible or not, in rare instances bloody urine indicates a more serious disorder or condition so it is a good idea to see a doctor if you notice blood in your urine.
The inability to completely empty your bladder is a rare symptom of BPH, but it is worth mentioning. Urination generally provides a sense of relief, so it can be distressing to continue to feel discomfort after the fact. If this is the only symptom present, increasing fluid intake can help, but if this inability develops in concert with other symptoms, you may want to speak with a doctor to rule out more serious conditions.
Another frustrating symptom of BPH is discomfort in the genital region. If your genitals feel uncomfortable or urination is accompanied by a burning feeling, you may have bladder stones. Bladder stones form as a response to an obstruction—in this case, the enlarged prostate—or blockage, which causes the urine to crystallize and form the stones. Treatment for bladder stones is most commonly a noninvasive procedure called cystolitholapaxy.
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