How to manage an enlarged prostate

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) also known as an enlarged prostate is the most common cause of prostate enlargement. As a man ages BPH becomes more common with about half of all men between the ages of 51 and 60 developing it and up to 90% of men over age 80 will have it. 

During a man’s lifetime, the prostate has two main growth periods.  The first is when he goes through puberty in which the prostate will double in size.  The second growth period starts around age 25 after which the prostate will begin to grow again.  It is natural for the prostate to grow and this is what is referred to as BPH.  This benign condition does not lead to prostate cancer but the two can coexist. 

There are specific symptoms of BPH a man will have which include:

·         A hesitant, interrupted, weak urine stream

·         Urgency, leaking, or dribbling

·         A sense of incomplete emptying

·         More frequent urination, especially at night

Any man experiencing any of the symptoms should consult with his physician on seeking treatment as there are many ways to deal with BPH.  There are medications to choose from along with effective surgical treatments with few side effects if surgery is necessary.

However, lifestyle changes can be another method of reducing symptoms of BPH.  Before automatically believing the symptoms are due only to BPH, all men should have a yearly prostate exam to rule out the possibility of prostate cancer.  Once it is determined to be a benign enlarged prostate, men can do 4 simple lifestyle changes to manage the symptoms and bring relief of BPH:

1.      Being tensed up or nervous can cause a man to urinate more frequently.  Regular exercise, practicing yoga or meditation can relive stress that may help reduce the urge to urinate.

2.      Each time a man urinates, he needs to empty the bladder completely to reduce the need for several trips to the bathroom.

3.      Sometimes certain prescription or over-the-counter medications may be contributing to the problem.   A doctor should review all medication checking to see if they can adjust dosages, change the schedule of when medications are taken or prescribe different medication that cause fewer urinary issues.

4.      Avoid drinking fluids at least 3 hours before bedtime.  Beverages containing caffeine or alcohol are diuretics which stimulate the kidneys to make urine increasing the likelihood of nighttime urination and they can also affect muscle tone of the bladder. 

Any man experiencing symptoms of BPH should always consult with a urologist to get a definitive diagnosis and method of treatment for his condition.