Suffering from Frequent and Increased Nighttime Urination? It Could be Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Currently, almost half of men over the age of 50 in the U.S. have benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)—a benign growth of the prostate. The prevalence of BPH increases with age and, although it is not cancerous, this condition can lead to chronic, long-term health problems if not properly addressed.
To help us get a better understanding of BPH and the importance of early diagnosis, we spoke with John DeCaro, MD, a urologist on staff at Abington – Lansdale Hospital.
“Hyperplasia is the growth of an organ due to a rapid increase in the number of cells. In simple terms, BPH is exactly what it sounds like: benign enlargement of the prostate,” says Dr. DeCaro. “While benign, the issue with BPH is that the enlarged prostate inhibits the bladder from being able to empty completely. This can lead to bothersome urinary symptoms, like urinary tract infections and, in some cases, injury to the kidneys.”
The typical warning signs of this condition are specific urinary symptoms, such as a weak urinary stream, frequent urination and increased nighttime urination. Less commonly, some people with the condition may have blood in their urine, a urinary tract infection (UTI) or even complete urinary retention. If left untreated, these symptoms could cause more severe bodily dysfunction.
“An undiagnosed case of BPH may have no long-term effects. In some cases, there might be mild urinary symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, more severe cases might include recurrent episodes of blood in the urine, UTIs or significant outflow obstruction, ultimately leading to kidney dysfunction,” says Dr. DeCaro.
The main causes for this condition are not fully understood, but many researchers believe both genetic and environmental components are involved. Age is a major factor in one’s risk of developing BPH, due to the gradual growth of the prostate as men get older.
“Diagnosing BPH starts at the primary care level. Most people with BPH come in with a few complaints of various symptoms. Yet there are also instances where a patient has no symptoms but may be suffering from this condition. That is why talking to your primary care provider is the first step to getting a real look at what is actually going on,” Dr. DeCaro advises.
In general, BPH is a chronic condition that develops slowly over many years. Because of its slow onset, this condition can be a silent disease, which is why talking with your healthcare provider is essential to finding a treatment and management plan best suited for you.
“In a mild case of BPH, symptoms may not be bothersome. In those cases, we like to practice ‘watchful waiting’ for symptoms to worsen, and if they do, we take treatment to the next level,” says Dr. DeCaro. “When the condition begins to interfere with a patient’s lifestyle, we look to medical treatment options like alpha-blockers to relax the smooth muscle in the prostate or inhibitors to shrink the prostate by blocking its testosterone activity. If a patient isn’t responding well to these drugs, we then move onto options like minimally invasive surgeries and targeted therapies.”
Treating BPH starts with talking to your healthcare providers. If you are experiencing a weak urinary stream, increased urination or blood while urinating, speak to a primary care doctor immediately.
“When it comes to treating conditions like BPH, which require treating the male reproductive area, many male patients ask about the sexual side effects associated with treatment. But I want our patients to know there are minimally invasive procedures available that either have no sexual side effects or minimize the sexual side effects seen in more traditional procedures,” says Dr. DeCaro. “Jefferson is aware of your concerns, and we are here to tell you that you are not alone. The care is available and we’re ready to help.”