Enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a very common condition affecting older men. As the prostate gland enlarges it can cause annoying and disruptive urinary symptoms. BPH is not cancer and is not life-threatening, but it can greatly impact a man’s quality of life if left untreated. Fortunately, today there are several effective treatment options available.
BPH affects the urine flow by squeezing the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder. This can lead to the following symptoms:
These urinary difficulties can disrupt sleep, work productivity, and normal daily activities. Some men experience depression due to the effects of BPH on their quality of life.
As men age, the prostate gland tends to gradually enlarge. The reasons for this are not fully understood, but changes in hormone balance and cell growth are factors. While frustrating, BPH is not life-threatening and does not lead to prostate cancer. However, left untreated, the bladder can become damaged.
If you experience the urinary symptoms described above, see a urologist for evaluation. The doctor will discuss your medical history and perform exams to rule out other conditions like infections. Tests used to diagnose BPH include:
Today several options exist beyond “watchful waiting” to manage enlarged prostate:
Your urologist can review the benefits and risks of each approach to determine the best treatment plan for your symptoms and needs.
Making sensible lifestyle adjustments, taking medications as prescribed, and seeing your doctor for follow-up care can help manage BPH. Contact your urologist promptly about any worsening symptoms, pain or fever that could indicate a medical emergency requiring urgent care.
While annoying, an enlarged prostate is a common and treatable condition. Seeking care from a urology specialist is key to improving the symptoms of BPH and getting back to normal urination and daily living.