Enlarged Prostate: A Complex Problem
There are several treatments for enlarged prostates (BPH), but all have side effects and possible complications. Find out what to expect — and how to decide.
All his life, he slept similar to a stone. But now, there’s an annoying trip to the bathroom each night, sometimes once or twice a night.
For mainly men, these nightly bathroom runs may be the first sign of an enlarged prostate. Other symptoms may include trouble starting a flow of urine, leaking, or dribbling. And, like gray hair, an enlarged prostate is a normal by-product of getting older, doctors say. Problem is, the nightly bathroom runs become more frequent — eventually edging their way into the daytime routine.
“They can’t sit through a gathering or a plane flight without getting up,” says Kevin Slawin, MD, a professor of urology at Baylor School of Medicine in Houston. “It’s extremely annoying … and when they have to go, they really have to go.”
It’s a problem to has several names — enlarged prostate, kind prostate hyperplasia, or simply BPH. According to the National Kidney and Urological Disease Information Clearinghouse, the most general prostate problem for men over 50 is prostate enlargement. In age 60, over one-half of men have BPH; by age 85, the number climbs to 90%, according to the American Urological Association (AUA).
Enlarged Prostate Symptoms and Causes
In men, urine flows as of the bladder through the urethra. BPH is a benign (noncancerous) enlargement of the prostate that blocks the flow of urine during the urethra. The prostate cells steadily multiply, creating an enlargement that puts pressure on the urethra — the “chute” through which urine and semen exit the body.
Your Quality of Life with an Enlarged Prostate
But your enlarged prostate symptoms are mild and not bothersome, there’s likely no need for treatment. One-third of men with mild BPH find that their symptoms clear up with no treatment. They may just watch and wait.
Though, when enlarged prostate symptoms are bothersome or are affecting your quality of life or overall health, it’s time to talk to your doctor about the treatment options. Together you will
decide if you would benefit most from medication, a minimally invasive procedure, or surgery. It’s important to speak with a doctor when you begin noticing changes in urinary function. You want to find out what’s going on so you can be treated for enlarged prostate if necessary. Used for many men, especially those who are young while the prostate start growing, getting early treatment can head off complications later on.
Time to Do Something about Your Enlarged Prostate?
Mainly men put up with an enlarged prostate for months, even years, before seeing a doctor, says Slawin. “while they’re getting up several times a night, and have trouble falling asleep again, that’s when they come in,” he tells WebMD.
It’s not always clear what’s going on, Slawin adds. “While men start having urinary problems, it’s hard to know the reason. They must see a doctor when anything changes, because there can be bladder cancer, stones, prostate cancer. BPH is often a diagnosis of exclusion … behind we make sure nothing more serious is going on.”
Watchful Waiting with an Enlarged Prostate
while the symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland are mild, with low scores on the BPH Impact Index (less than 8), it can be best to wait before starting any treatment — what’s known as “watchful waiting.”With regular checkups formerly a year or more often, doctors can watch for early problems and signs that the condition is posing a health risk or a major inconvenience. That’s wherever the BPH Index is especially helpful, Westney tells WebMD. “It let us know how high the symptom score is … when to start treatment.”
The “pouring might in treatment,” she explains, is whether the symptoms are affecting your quality of life — and whether a blockage is causing serious complications, such as inability toward urinate, blood in the urine, bladder stones, kidney failure, or other bladder problems.