Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is a condition involving the enlargement of the prostate gland. This can become problematic as the prostate gland surrounds the urethra – the tube that is responsible for the passage of urine from the bladder to the penis. As a result, patients with BPH often experience difficulty passing urine which, in turn, can result in a weakening of the bladder muscles. This can cause further symptoms such as dribbling of urine. BPH has, however, many successful treatment options. These vary between lifestyle management and medication, to more invasive treatments such as surgical intervention.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Drugs
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Symptoms
The urethra is the tube that connects the bladder to the penis, and this tube must pass through the prostate gland. If the prostate gland enlarges, it will directly impinge on the flow of urine through the urethra. As a result, the enlargement will cause symptoms such as:
- High frequency to urinate in small volumes
- Inability to control the release of urine
- Urinating throughout the night
- Difficulty initiating urination in the first place
Rarely, patients with BPH will experience blood in the urine or the incapacity to urinate at all. It’s also worth considering that those with greater prostatic enlargement do not necessarily experience more severe symptoms, as it only takes minor bulging to cause the symptoms listed above.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Causes
Given that BPH is diagnosed almost exclusively in males, one can infer that hormonal differences play a significant role. This has indeed found to be the case. Hormones such as testosterone are indirectly responsible for the growth of prostate cells, but this is not the entire picture.
The rate of growth of prostate cells appears to occur in all males from around the age of 30 and, consequently, BPH will always occur in some form by the age of 65. Research is still ongoing to determine the exact causative mechanism, as it currently remains unknown. In other words, while testosterone plays a contributing role to BPH, it does not cause the condition in the first place.
- Testosterone levels
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Diagnosis
Given the prostate is located between the penis and bladder; it’s possible for physicians to inspect the prostate via rectal examination. Through this method, the doctor will be able to determine whether the prostate has enlarged.
In conjunction with this, blood tests can be performed. One marker, known as the prostatic specific antigen (PSA), tends to be elevated in the presence of BPH. These two tests, the rectal examination and PSA, supply the physician with early clues about whether the patient may have BPH or not. The doctor may also want to rule out prostate cancer, and so may need to collect further diagnostic information – which may be retrieved by performing an ultrasound scan.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Treatment
Numerous treatment options are available in the treatment of BPH.
Lifestyle treatments for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
- First, the patient will be advised to think about their lifestyle, as changes here can make the condition more manageable and tolerable.
- Simple things, such as avoiding drinks in the late evening, will be recommended.
Medications for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
- In tandem with this, the patient may be prescribed medication – known as alpha blockers – to relax the bladder muscle and therefore make it easier to pass urine.
- Other drugs, such as finasteride, work by inhibiting the formation of DHT – a precursor to testosterone that plays a central role in the enlargement of the prostate gland.
Surgery for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
- Should these drugs prove ineffective, then surgical options will be considered.
- The purpose of this surgery is to remove those parts of the prostate that disrupt the flow of urine. These procedures, such as TUNA and TURP, have largely proven successful in this endeavour.