Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
Part 1: Causes, Signs and Symptoms
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) also known as prostate gland enlargement is a common condition as men age. An enlarged prostate can cause restriction in the flow of urine from the bladder which, if left untreated, may lead to further complications relating to the urinary tract, bladder, and kidneys. BPH affects 33% of men over 50, rising to 50% over 60 and to 90% by age 85.
Many take the view on early symptoms that is just part of aging and as such, do not take any action until later when symptoms get worse. BPH is a normal facet of getting older and whilst it is not usually a serious health risk, it is important that those with even mild symptoms have them investigated early if just to rule out anything more serious. If left untreated, as symptoms develop, BPH can have a significant impact on a patient’s health and quality of life.
Predictive risk factors for BPH are age, however other factors such as obesity or a family history of prostate issues along with those living with diabetes or heart disease may have an increased risk. Early diagnosis can be of significant benefit to management of the condition. Once diagnosed, there are a range of treatments that will help alleviate symptoms.
The specific cause of BPH and what causes the prostate to enlarge is not entirely known, however, it is generally thought to be related to changes in the balance of sex hormone (particularly testosterone) in a man’s body as they get older.
Why is prostate gland enlargement a problem? The prostate gland is a walnut sized gland which sits under the bladder. The urethra, the tube which conduits urine from the bladder to the penis, passes through the prostate gland. As the prostate gland enlarges, its outward growth is restricted by the walls of the gland itself which in turn causes the two sides of the prostate to compress the urethra in the middle. It is this compression and its subsequent restriction on the urinary system that then causes the various symptoms associated with BPH.
Symptoms and signs
Most common symptoms to look for with BPH: -
- Increased frequency in urination both day and night.
- Inability to “hold on”, resulting in leakage.
- Leakage when coughing, sneezing, lifting etc.
- Difficulty initiating urination, despite urgency.
- Not voiding bladder completely
- Stop – Start stream
- Poor flow and straining to pass urine.
- Continued “dribbling” when finished.
Other more potentially dangerous BPH complications may include: -
- Passing blood
- AUR (Acute urinary retention) - Inability to urinate at all.
- Anyone presenting with AUR should be directed to A&E immediately
- Bladder damage / Bladder stones
- Both stem from inability to empty the bladder, infections.
- Kidney damage
- Continued pressure from retention and potential for any infection to reach the kidneys.
To be continued next week...I discuss diagnosis.
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans Pharmacies, log on to www.whelehans.ie or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore).