What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia? Symptoms and Causes
Prostate enlargement is a common consequence of advancing age. It affects as many as one in five men over 40 and is more common in African-American and Asian men. The prostate gland is a small walnut-sized organ that sits just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body.
As men get older, their prostates typically start to enlarge. This is normal and usually doesn’t cause any symptoms or problems. However, some cases are where benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can lead to serious health complications. If you have been recently diagnosed with BPH, this article will help you understand what it is, its potential effects on your life, and available treatment options.
What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as BPH, is an enlargement of the prostate gland in men. The prostate gland is a small walnut-sized organ that sits just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. As men get older, their prostates typically start to enlarge. This is normal and usually doesn’t cause any symptoms or problems.
However, some cases are where benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can lead to serious health complications. BPH causes the prostate to swell, which may result in a feeling of needing to urinate more often. The increased pressure from the enlarged prostate may also cause difficulty in fully emptying the bladder, making you more likely to get urinary tract infections. In some cases, BPH can also cause blood in the urine.
What Causes Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia?
Aging is the most common risk factor for BPH. Other risk factors include:
- Being overweight.
- Being diabetic.
- Having a family history of BPH.
- Being Caucasian or Asian.
- Having a mother who took hormone replacement therapy during menopause.
It is unclear exactly what causes the prostate to swell during BPH. Research suggests that a combination of genetics and changing hormone levels leads to prostate enlargement. Prostate cells are affected by androgens (male hormones), including testosterone. As men age, their androgen levels drop. This hormone change causes the prostate cells to swell, thereby increasing pressure and affecting the urine flow.
Symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
- Frequent Urination: The increased pressure from the enlarged prostate may also cause difficulty in fully emptying the bladder, making you more likely to get urinary tract infections.
- Difficulty Urinating: In some cases, BPH can also cause blood in the urine and a hard time urinating because of the swelling of the prostate and bladder.
- Painful Urination: The prostate gland can also press on the urethra and cause pain during urination.
- Blood in the Urine: Men with BPH may also notice blood in their urine from time to time.
- Urinary Incontinence: A severe case of BPH can cause urinary incontinence or the inability to control urination. This can also happen if BPH is left untreated.
- Sexual Dysfunction: A severe case of BPH can also cause sexual dysfunction, including trouble getting or maintaining an erection.
When to See a Doctor about Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?
If you’re diagnosed with BPH and start experiencing symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor and see what they recommend. For some men, BPH is not caught or diagnosed until symptoms are severe and the condition has started to cause serious damage. If you are at risk of developing BPH, visit your doctor for routine check-ups to monitor your health. If you have symptoms of BPH but don’t have a diagnosis, it’s important to go to your doctor.
Your doctor will review your symptoms and give you a physical examination to check for BPH. A urine test and a digital rectal exam (DRE) may also be done to check for BPH. A DRE involves your doctor placing a gloved finger into your rectum and feeling your prostate from the inside. This can be uncomfortable, but it is the only way to diagnose BPH.
Your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes and medication if you have BPH. Lifestyle changes include losing weight and cutting down on alcohol. Certain medications, such as finasteride and dutasteride, can also help treat BPH.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Prevention Preventing BPH is not always possible, but there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk.
1. Stay Healthy
If you have BPH, it’s important to stay healthy and avoid any health complications that may lead to surgery. If you are diagnosed with BPH, you can reduce your risk of complications by staying healthy and maintaining a healthy diet and weight.
2. Quit Smoking
Smoking is bad for your health, including increasing your risk of developing BPH. If you are diagnosed with BPH, it’s important to stop smoking since it can lead to more serious complications.
3. Limit Alcohol
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can damage your liver and increase your risk of BPH. If you are diagnosed with BPH, it’s important to limit your alcohol intake.
4. Take Care of Your Weight
Being overweight can increase your risk of developing BPH, so it’s important to keep your weight under control.
Conclusion: Causes Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is an enlargement of the prostate gland in men. The prostate gland surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. This common condition typically happens as men get older. As men get older, their prostates tend to swell and may cause problems.