While the prostate (a male reproductive gland located between the bladder and the penis) naturally grows as a man ages, about half of all men ages 51 through 60 and up to 90 percent of men over age 80 develop a condition called BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasia. With BPH, the enlarged prostate basically squeezes the urethra, causing various urinary symptoms. Although BPH may be a fact of life for many men, the symptoms do not have to disrupt quality of life, explains Blount Memorial board-certified urologist Dr. Bryant Byrd.
“BPH is extremely common as men age,” says Byrd. “Usually, this is a slowly progressing condition that may go unnoticed or that men simply may deal with for many years before seeking medical attention. If your urination is something that is affecting your daily routine and is becoming a bother, see a urologist to find out what help is available and to ensure that there is nothing more concerning causing your symptoms.”
Common BPH symptoms include difficulty urinating, a weak urine stream, increased urinary frequency, waking up at night to urinate, urinary urgency and a feeling of not fully emptying the bladder after urinating. If symptoms of BPH are ignored, Byrd explains, urination could become extremely difficult or even impossible, requiring the placement of a catheter in the worst of cases.
“Requiring a catheter is certainly something to be avoided if possible,” he says. “Keeping a regular check on how well the bladder is emptying reduces the likelihood of that happening, and helps prevent other complications, such as infections and bladder stones.”
BPH symptoms generally are treated with a medication designed to relax the smooth muscle in the prostate and bladder neck, allowing the bladder to empty more effectively. Depending on the severity of the symptoms and the size of the prostate, other medications may be added to help reduce the size of the prostate. A multitude of surgical options also are available when needed. Men can help control symptoms, adds Byrd, by taking a few proactive steps.
“Try to urinate often or roughly every two hours while awake if possible and do not wait until the bladder is completely full,” he says. “This can help keep the bladder empty and reduced urinary urgency. If nighttime urination is a problem, decreasing how much you drink later in the evening and stopping fluid intake completely two hours prior to going to bed can make a big difference. Cutting back on the number of caffeinated beverages—such as coffee, Coke and tea—that you drink throughout the day can help to decrease urinary frequency. Simply trying to fully relax and not being in a hurry when urinating also can allow the bladder to empty more fully and relieve some of the symptoms.”
To make an appointment with Dr. Byrd, call East Tennessee Medical Group – Urology at 865-980-5260.