Prostate enlargement, which is also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a medical condition common in men who are getting older. While the condition could lead to a host of uncomfortable urinary symptoms, it can also cause various kidney, bladder, or urinary tract issues.
In general, an individual’s BPH symptoms will get worse with time. Common signs of the phenomenon include:
- The inability to fully empty one’s bladder
- An urgent/frequent need to urinate
- Difficulty starting urination
- Nocturia, or increased urination at night
- The inability to fully empty the bladder
- Dribbling at the end of urination
- A non-uniform urine stream
- A weak urine stream
More rare signs of BPH may include:
- Hematuria, or blood in the urine
- Urinary tract infection
- The inability to urinate
It may be surprising to learn that the size of one’s prostate doesn’t dictate the severity of one’s symptoms. It may be encouraging, however, to learn that some men may find that their symptoms will eventually stabilize–or perhaps even improve–as time marches on.
Some good news: there are a breadth of effective treatments for BPH out there, including minimally invasive surgeries and therapy, as well as medications. In order to find out what’s best for you, however, you should speak with a doctor to evaluate your specific case. The Mayo Clinic recommends that anyone who is having urinary problems see a doctor ASAP, even if their symptoms aren’t particularly disruptive. This way, your doctor can help you find your condition’s underlying causes and treat your condition.
BPH is often caused by the fact that men experience continuous prostate growth throughout their lives; as life goes on, this continued growth can cause the prostate, which is located below the bladder, to block the flow of urine. While it isn’t yet clear what exactly it is that causes the prostate to enlarge, experts suspect that changes in the balance of sex hormones could be the culprit.
While suspected changes in sex hormones with age is often responsible for BPH, other, often more sinister conditions could lead to the same urinary symptoms as those caused by BPH:
- Kidney stones
- Bladder stones
- Urinary tract infection
- Prostatitis, or inflammation of the prostate
- Problems with the nerves controlling the bladder
- Urethral stricture, or narrowing of the urethra
- Scarring in the bladder neck from a previous surgery
- Cancer of the prostate or bladder
Because urinary symptoms could be caused by a host of different issues, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as you notice the development of such signs.