Nearly all men will develop an enlarged prostate, but about half of them won’t feel any symptoms. For the half who do, many will find that those symptoms significantly impair their quality of life. Although an enlarged prostate isn’t life-threatening, being forced to take constant trips to the bathroom can be uncomfortable and tedious to live with. Fortunately there are a number of basic tips you can follow to help deal with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and minimize the inconvenience of living with an enlarged prostate.
What is BPH?
In a healthy body, men urinate by the bladder constricting, which forces fluid out through the urethra. With benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the enlarged prostate restricts the escape of urine. That means your bladder has to work harder to get the job done. Over time your bladder gets stronger, causing it to force out even small quantities of urine, and resulting in frequent visits to the bathroom.
In fact, the most common symptoms of BPH include urgency to urinate, frequent urination, difficulty starting urination, weak urinary pressure, dribbling urine after bathroom visits, and feeling unable to empty your bladder entirely. This is all a natural part of aging. By age 40, about one in ten men have developed signs of BPH. By age 60, that number rises to about one in two men. By age 75, nearly 90% of men will have an enlarged prostate.
As the prostate grows and the clamping force against the urethra increases, eventually the bladder simply can’t overcome what it’s fighting against. As a result, some urine will fail to leave the body. This can put you at risk for several serious complications, including incontinence, inability to urinate, bladder stones, and blood in the urine.
Living Comfortably with BPH
If you find yourself living with BPH, there are a number of simple steps you can take to greatly reduce the severity of your symptoms.
- Give up alcohol and caffeine. A good place to begin is by eliminating alcohol and caffeinated beverages like coffee. These substances are diuretics, meaning they cause the body to produce urine.
- Double-void your bladder. When you visit the bathroom, try to urinate as much as you can. After you’ve finished, take a moment to relax, and then try to urinate a second time. This is known as double-voiding, which can take several minutes, but is effective at more thoroughly emptying the bladder.
- Don’t stop drinking water! One thing you shouldn’t try to do is drink less, because dehydration is a serious health hazard. What you can do instead is change when you drink. Give up drinking fluids two hours before going to bed, and try to urinate before calling it a night. This can lead to far fewer bathroom visits interrupting your sleep.
- Drink smaller amounts of water at a time. While this might sound counter-intuitive, one of the best tips for an enlarged prostate is to slow down your drinking. Smaller amounts of fluid at regular intervals are better than guzzling large glasses of water all at once. That’s because concentrated urine irritates the bladder, meaning that more diluted urine makes it easier to last longer between bathroom breaks.
Treatment for Enlarged Prostate
BPH isn’t life threatening, so you won’t need treatment unless symptoms are bothering you. Your doctor can prescribe medications that can help alleviate most symptoms, as well as review your current medications to see if any are contributing to urinary problems. Enlarged prostate surgery is also possible for patients who have severe symptoms that persist through treatment, or who have repeated complications, but this is very rare.
However, just because you don’t need treatment doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get checked out. The symptoms of BPH are very similar to the symptoms of prostate cancer, which is why men should receive regular exams from their doctors to ensure what you think are symptoms of BPH aren’t something more serious. BPH might be life-disrupting, but with the right care and the correct approach to fluids, it’s possible for most men to minimize their symptoms and live comfortably with an enlarged prostate.
Do you suffer from an enlarged prostate? What have you found helps to minimize issues and enjoy living? Let us know in the comments below!