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Enlarged Prostate? Treat It Before It Becomes a Bigger Issue

August 26, 2023 | By: Ryan Flynn, MD

If you’re a man who regularly gets up to go to the bathroom at night, only to the frustration that you can’t urinate, you might want to call your urologist in the morning.

Difficulty urinating, especially in the middle of the evening, is a textbook symptom of an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Half of all men between the ages of 51 and 60, and 70% of men between 60 and 69, live with this non-cancerous condition. However, BPH is so slow-occurring that many might just tolerate the telltale signs, chalking them up to age-related muscle weakness.

True, an enlarged prostate is a sign of aging. But it can present other potentially critical health risks.

Here’s why men should seek a doctor’s advice once they recognize these and other symptoms.

How and Why Does the Prostate Become Enlarged?

The prostate is a small gland, typically about the size of a walnut, that makes the fluid that nourishes and carries semen. It’s located just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder.

As men age, the cells in their prostates begin to rapidly multiply in response to natural hormones, causing the gland to become larger. Eventually, in many men, the enlarged tissue compresses the urethra, blocking urine flow. This can present health risks, such as urinary tract infections and bladder and kidney stones.

While BPH is typically unavoidable, the symptoms are much more easily remedied if you seek medical help soon. Early treatment can go a long way to preserving the health of your bladder for the long term.

BPH Can Lead to Complex Health Issues: Know the Signs

The most common symptoms of BPH involve changes in urination – having trouble starting, a weak stream, and the sudden and frequent urge to urinate, particularly at night (nocturia).

Other symptoms to recognize include:

  • Urine leakage – This is a sign of overflow incontinence. If the urethra is compressed, the bladder is less likely to empty completely, and in time the pressure can force urine out.
  • Burning, painful urination – A common symptom of a urinary tract infection, when harmful bacteria grows in the urine. The inability to fully empty the bladder can increase this risk.
  • Acute pain in the back and sides, and blood in the urine – When urine is stored in the bladder too long, its minerals and salts are more likely to form into stones. These stones can block the urethra, exacerbating the chance of infection.
  • Acute pain, plus nausea and fever – The kidneys and bladder are attached through urinary passages, so a severe UTI (urinary tract infection) can spread from the bladder to the kidneys and present serious risk.

Treat Yourself – BPH Care Options Keep Improving

BPH treatment is necessary both to alleviate the symptoms, such as sleep deprivation, and to prevent excess urine storage. If you find yourself waking up more than once a night to pee and notice a change in flow, it might be time for a routine prostate check.

For mild symptoms, your doctor might suggest a change in diet and pelvic exercises (Kegels). Medications, including muscle relaxants, also can alleviate the symptoms of mild to moderate BPH.

In advanced cases of BPH, minimally invasive to surgical options are available. Among the industry-leading treatments we offer:

  • Prostate tissue removal ­– Depending on the severity of the BPH, the enlarged tissue can be eliminated via robotic surgery, heat, high-pressure water, or by surgically removing the tissue through a narrow tube inserted into the urethra and to the prostate.
  • UroLift System – In this outpatient option, the surgeon inserts tiny, permanent implants where the prostate surrounds the urethra. The implants are designed to pull back the enlarged tissue, relieving compression so urine can flow normally.
  • GreenLight Laser Therapy – During this procedure, the tissue blocking your prostate is vaporized via a small scope entered through your urethra. Most patients experience improvement in urine flow within 24 hours.

Which treatment option is right for you will often depend on an individualized workup recommended by your urologist.

An Enlarged Prostate Can Get Serious. So, Take it Seriously

While for many men an enlarged prostate amounts to no more than a middle-of-the-night nuisance, that growing tissue can compromise your overall health if untreated. You can prevent this common condition from becoming a serious one. Talk to your urologist soon.

Are you experiencing symptoms of BPH? To learn more about the causes, diagnosis, and treatments we offer for enlarged prostate, visit our page on BPH.

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