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Enlarged Prostate (BPH)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
What do I need to know about an enlarged prostate (BPH)?
An enlarged prostate, or BPH, is a common condition in men older than 40. The prostate is normally the size of a walnut. It may get larger because the number of cells increases. This kind of BPH is called benign prostatic hyperplasia. It may get larger because the cells you already have get bigger. This kind of BPH is called benign prostatic hypertrophy. Benign means it is not cancer. The prostate wraps around the urethra. An enlarged prostate will press on the urethra. This may cause problems with storing urine or emptying your bladder completely.
What are the signs and symptoms of BPH?
- Urinating 8 or more times each day
- A feeling of not fully emptying your bladder when you urinate
- An urgent need to urinate that you could not put off, or urinating again within 2 hours
- Being woken from sleep because you needed to urinate
- Trouble starting your urine flow, or a need to push or strain to get it to start
- Urine that stops and starts several times when you urinate
- A weak urine stream, or dribbling after you urinate
How is BPH diagnosed?
- A urine test may be used to measure the amount of urine left in your bladder after you urinate.
- A digital rectal exam is used to check the size of your prostate. Your healthcare provider will insert a gloved finger into your rectum. The provider will be able to feel your prostate. The exam may be repeated over time to check the prostate size. The size of your prostate may be checked with ultrasound pictures.
- A PSA test is used to measure the amount of a protein made by your prostate gland. A blood sample is taken for this test. A high PSA level can increase your risk for more severe urination problems or the need for surgery.
How is BPH treated?
- Watchful waiting means you do not receive treatment right away. Your signs and symptoms will be monitored over time to see if they get worse. You may be asked to keep a record of how much liquid you drink and how often you urinate. The record will include when you urinate, how easy or difficult it was, and any changes in urination. You will bring the record to follow-up visits. Your healthcare provider may also recommend ways to improve your symptoms during watchful waiting.
- Medicine may be used to relax the muscles in your prostate and bladder. This may help you urinate more easily. You may also need medicine that blocks the production of a hormone that causes the prostate to get larger. It may help to slow the growth of the prostate or shrink it. Your healthcare provider may also make changes to your current medicines if they are making your symptoms worse.
- A procedure may be used to place a stent into your urethra to hold it open. A stent is a short, tiny mesh tube.
- Surgery may be used to relieve your symptoms if other treatments do not work. Extra tissue that is causing your symptoms may be destroyed. All or part of your prostate may be removed during another type of surgery.
What can I do to manage BPH?
- Urinate on a regular schedule. This will train your bladder to hold urine longer. A larger amount of urine may make it easier to urinate.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about all your medicines. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Some medicines can make BPH worse. Do not start any new medicines before you talk to your provider.
- Drink less liquid during the day. Do not have liquid for several hours before you go to bed at night. Do not drink large amounts of any liquid at one time.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine. These can irritate your bladder and make your symptoms worse.
- Eat less salt. Salt can cause fluid buildup and make it harder to urinate. Examples of salty foods are chips, cured meats, and canned soups. Do not use table salt.
- Elevate your legs if you have swelling. Elevate (raise) your legs above the level of your heart. This can relieve swelling caused by fluid buildup. You may not have to get up in the night to urinate.
- Lose weight if you are overweight. Obesity increases your risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA can make you need to get up in the night to urinate. Exercise can help you reach or maintain a healthy weight. A lack of exercise may make BPH symptoms worse. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.
When should I call my doctor?
- You see blood in your urine.
- You are not able to urinate.
- Your bladder feels very full and painful.
- You have new or worsening symptoms.
- You have a fever.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Care AgreementYou have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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