Urinating is one of the most natural processes wired within us. It’s so natural that babies know how to urinate before they even realize that they have been born. Do you know that babies even start urinating while they are still in the womb?
As natural as this process is, a myriad of health conditions can disrupt it in one way or the other. Urinary problems are one of the commonest reasons why people visit the clinic. In this article, we will be considering just one of the hundreds of causes of urinary problems in men, specifically.
Urinary difficulty in men
As men grow older, especially after they cross the 50 years mark, up to 50-60% of them begin to have significant difficulty passing urine. The most common cause of this urinary difficulty is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).
What is BPH?
As the name implies, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), is a benign (non-cancerous, mostly harmless) hyperplasia (multiplication of cells) of the prostate gland. The prostate gland is a part of the male reproductive system, and it is located just at the bladder neck, encapsulating the initial parts of the urethra (the tube from where urine passes out of the body).
The term BPH is slowly being frowned upon by urologists (doctors who are experts in all things urinary system) and Benign Prostatic Enlargement is now preferred. This is because the prostate can either enlarge from hyperplasia or hypertrophy (increase in individual cell size). So technically, for BPH to be used, the cell multiplication must first be confirmed through prostate biopsy.
Medical terminologies aside, BPH (as it is more commonly called) or BPE generally signifies that the prostate gland is growing so big that it is now obstructing the flow of urine out of the bladder and causing problems.
Symptoms of prostate enlargement
The symptoms of BPE include:
- Difficulty initiating urine
- Poor flow of urine
- Straining to urinate
- A feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder after urinating
These are the major urinary problems men with enlarged prostate experience. However, there could be other symptoms which arise from complications.
- Recurrent urinary tract infection due to prolonged accumulation of urine in the bladder. This will cause symptoms like fever, an urgent need to urinate, and a painful or burning sensation while urinating.
- Acute urinary retention. Sudden, complete inability to pass urine, and feeling of enlarged mass (the bladder) in the lower abdomen, are typical features of this complication.
What causes prostate enlargement?
BPE may develop due to changes in a man’s hormonal levels as he ages. Although it is a natural process that is bound to happen at some point, the risk of prostate enlargement can be reduced by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle and exercising regularly.
Can BPE increase the risk of prostate cancer?
The simple answer is NO.
Treatment of BPE
Although some men have more severe symptoms than others, most urinary complaints worsen over time as the prostate continues to enlarge unchecked. To prevent this, BPE is typically treated with medications which shrink the size of the prostate and prevent further enlargement. Muscle relaxants (eg tamsulosin) may also be given to relax the bladder.
In severe cases which do not respond well to drugs, surgery may be done to remove part of the prostate.
A word from Healthfacts
If you are a man in your late 40s of early 50s having difficulty with passing urine, prostate enlargement may likely be the cause. Visit a urologist to get treatment.
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