What are the Signs of an Enlarged Prostate?
An enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) is a more common diagnosis than you may think. In fact, about 50% of men over the age of 75 will experience symptoms of BPH. Though this condition can cause discomfort and be inconvenient at times, it is considered minor, and treatable.
Continue reading to learn what the most common signs of an enlarged prostate are, and treatment options that are available at Urology Specialist of the Carolinas.
What is an Enlarged Prostate (BPH)?
Your prostate surrounds part of your urethra, and when you are experiencing BPH, your prostate is larger than usual, which puts pressure on and squeezes your urethra. This can cause your stream of urine to be weak, and can be very bothersome, especially when you constantly have to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
What Causes BPH
Unfortunately, doctors are unsure of the root cause of BPH, but have found that it is most likely just a normal condition of aging — as changes in the male sex hormone may be a factor. However, doctors have found that a family history of prostate issues can increase the risk of developing BPH as you age. However, there are certain risk factors that could potentially cause BPH, such as:
- Lack of physical activity
- Erectile dysfunction
How Common is BPH?
BPH is considered the most common prostate problem for men over the age of 50 years old. As many as 14 million men in the United States alone deal with symptoms of BPH, as well as over 30 million men worldwide. Though this condition rarely causes symptoms before the age of 40, BPH affects about 50 percent of men over the age of 75, and 90 percent of men over the age of 80.
5 Symptoms of BPH
Now that you know what BPH is, and what causes it, let’s discuss the most common signs of an enlarged prostate so you know what to look out for, and know when to consult your urologist.
1. A Weak or Interrupted Urinary Stream
Many patients who are diagnosed with BPH will experience a weak urinary stream. This is due to the constant pressure on your urethra — making it more difficult for urine to pass.
2. Sudden or Frequent Urge to Urinate
A frequent, or sudden urge to urinate is a common sign of an enlarged prostate. This symptom is due to your urethra being squeezed, causing your bladder to work harder to push urine out. Overtime, your bladder will become weak — making it harder for it to empty and causing you to feel the urge to urinate suddenly and frequently.
3. Inability to Completely Empty Your Bladder
The feeling of not being able to fully empty your bladder can be a frustrating symptom of BPH. Unfortunately, this symptom can also increase the risk of infection in your urinary tract, causing problems such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), or bladder stones.
4. Waking Up During the Night to Urinate
Waking up during the night to urinate, also known as nocturia, is a common, but very frustrating and disruptive symptom of BPH. This symptom is caused by the enlarged prostate closing off the urethra, making the bladder contract and work harder to push out urine. As a result, patients may feel an urgent need to urinate, especially at night.
5. Accidentally Leaking Urine
Though it can be embarrassing and annoying, accidental loss of urine, also known as urinary incontinence, is a very common sign of an enlarged prostate. Accidentally leaking urine can also be tied to having an overactive bladder, which is a change in bladder function due to BPH. Leaking urine can also happen due to having to strain when coughing, sneezing, or lifting a heavy object.
How is BPH Diagnosed?
Your urologist will begin by asking you about your symptoms, and then do a full physical exam that will likely include:
- Digital rectal exam: Doctor will insert a finger into the rectum to check your prostate for enlargement.
- Urine test: Analyzing your urine can help rule out any type of infection, such as a UTI , or other conditions that cause similar symptoms.
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test: Your doctor will check your PSA (a substance produced in your prostate) levels because they can become increased when you have an enlarged prostate
- Urinary Flow Test: Measures the strength and amount of your urine flow.
- Transrectal Ultrasound: Ultrasound probe is inserted into your rectum to measure and evaluate your prostate.
- Cystoscopy: A cystoscope is inserted into your urethra, allowing your doctor to see inside your urethra and bladder.
Common Treatments for BPH
There are a range of treatments that patients can have done to relieve their symptoms of an enlarged prostate. However, at Urology Specialists of the Carolinas, there are two main treatment options offered for BPH patients: Rezūm water therapy and Urolift. Patients should consult with a urologist to determine which treatment is right for you and your BPH.
Rezūm Water Therapy
Rezūm water therapy is a great option that can provide lasting relief for patients with BPH. It’s a non-surgical treatment that uses the power of water, vapor, or steam to remove the excess prostate tissue that is putting pressure on the urethra — relieving symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Considering that this treatment only lasts about nine seconds, it’s a desirable option for those who want a non-invasive, quick treatment. Additionally, patients have reported feeling relief in as soon as two weeks.
UroLift is a one-time, in-office procedure that can drastically reduce the symptoms on an enlarged prostate. This method utilizes small implants to lift the enlarged prostate tissue away from the urethra so urine is no longer blocked. UroLift does not require any sort of cutting, heating, or removal of the prostate tissue, so patients can experience symptom relief in as little as two weeks.
Other Available Treatments
Though Rezūm and UroLift are the recommended treatment options, they are not the only methods available. It’s important that patients discuss different treatment options with a urologist to figure out which course of action will be best to relieve your symptoms. Alternative treatments for an enlarged prostate are:
- Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle changes include; reducing liquid intake, bladder training, abstaining from alcohol and caffeine, and regularly exercising the pelvic muscles.
- Medication: The two types of medications frequently used to treat signs of an enlarged prostate are alpha blockers and five-alpha-reductase inhibitors. Alpha blockers work to relax the bladder muscles so urine can flow more easily. However, Five-alpha reductase inhibitors work by partially shrinking the prostate.
- Surgery: BPH relief surgery involves making incisions inside the prostate to remove the excess tissue blocking the urethra.
Download Our Man-To-Man Guide On Healthy Aging
Since an enlarged prostate is linked to aging, it’s important that you know the precautions to take as you age in order to prevent negative health conditions. Thankfully, we have made it easy by creating the “Man-To-Man Guide On Healthy Aging” so you can be aware of the biggest health concerns as you age. Click the link below to download your free copy!
Additionally, if you’re suffering from symptoms of BPH, find your nearest Urology Specialist of the Carolinas location and schedule an appointment with one of our urologists.