What is benign prostatic hyperplasia?

What is benign prostatic hyperplasia?

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also called prostate enlargement, is a noncancerous increase in size of the prostate gland. 

The cause is unclear but some risk factors may include family history, obesity, type 2 diabetes, not enough exercise, and erectile dysfunction.1] Medications like pseudoephedrine, anticholinergics, and calcium channel blockers may worsen symptoms. The underlying mechanism involves the prostate pressing on the urethra thereby making it difficult to pass urine out of the bladder. Diagnosis is typically based on symptoms and examination after ruling out other possible causes.

Symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia

The severity of symptoms in people who have prostate gland enlargement varies, but symptoms tend to gradually worsen over time. Common signs and symptoms of BPH include:

  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate
  • Increased frequency of urination at night (nocturia)
  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Weak urine stream or a stream that stops and starts
  • Dribbling at the end of urination
  • Inability to completely empty the bladder

Less common signs and symptoms include:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Inability to urinate
  • Blood in the urine

Complications of an enlarged prostate can include:

  • Sudden inability to urinate (urinary retention). 
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs). 
  • Bladder stones. 
  • Bladder damage. 
  • Kidney damage. 

Most men with an enlarged prostate don’t develop these complications. However, acute urinary retention and kidney damage can be serious health threats.

Having an enlarged prostate is not believed to increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.

Treatment Options for BPH

Currently, the main options to address BPH are:

  • Watchful waiting
  • Medication
  • Surgery (prostatic urethral lift, transurethral resection of the prostate, photovaporization of the prostate, open prostatectomy)

If medications are ineffective in a man who is unable to withstand the rigors of surgery, urethral obstruction and incontinence may be managed by intermittent catheterization or an indwelling Foley catheter (which has an inflated balloon at the end to hold it in place in the bladder). The catheter can remain indefinitely (it is usually changed monthly).

Nutrition and Dietary Supplements

Beta-sitosterol. Beta-sitosterol is a cholesterol-like compound found in plants. It has been studied for BPH and found to significantly improve urinary flow and decrease the amount of urine left in the bladder. It does not shrink the prostate. Beta-sitosterol is also used to lower cholesterol, making it a good option for men whose cholesterol levels are high. Plants that are high in beta-sitosterol, such as pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita pepo), are sometimes suggested for BPH. Talk to your doctor before adding any supplements to your BPH treatment regimen.

Also if you are interested in prostate supplements check our post about Vital Flow prostate supplement.

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