If you’re a middle-aged man, chances are you’ve heard of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). This condition is quite common, affecting around 50% of men over the age of 50. While BPH is not a life-threatening condition, it can cause a great deal of discomfort and inconvenience if left untreated. In this blog post, we’ll be discussing the dangers of untreated BPH, as well as some possible treatment options.
What is BPH and how does it affect the prostate gland?
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a common condition that is estimated to affect millions of men around the world. This condition occurs when surrounding tissues in the prostate gland begin to swell and interfere with normal functioning of the urinary system. BPH is often associated with aging, but it can occur at any age.
Symptoms of this condition vary, but can include:
- frequent urination during the day or night
- an inability to fully empty the bladder
- a weak stream of urine
- pain while urinating
What are the risks of untreated BPH?
Even though BPH is not a serious illness, if it goes untreated it can have major consequences. The risks of untreated Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) are significant and can have a major impact on one’s health. These risks can include:
Urinary Tract Infections
BPH can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs) in men because the enlarged prostate can obstruct the flow of urine from the bladder, causing urine to be retained in the bladder for longer periods of time. When urine is not fully expelled from the bladder, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to a UTI. This can also result in the formation of bladder stones. In addition to causing discomfort and pain, UTIs can cause fever, chills, and nausea. It is important for men with BPH to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms of a UTI to prevent further complications.
Kidney infections, also known as pyelonephritis, occur when bacteria enter the kidneys through the urinary tract. BPH can increase the risk of kidney infections because the enlarged prostate can obstruct the flow of urine, causing urine to be retained in the bladder for longer periods of time. When urine is not expelled from the bladder completely, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which can then travel up the urinary tract and infect the kidneys. Symptoms of a kidney infection can include fever, chills, back pain, and frequent urination.
Kidney stones are another potential complication of untreated BPH. Kidney stones are hard deposits that form in the kidneys and can cause severe pain as they pass through the urinary tract. BPH can increase the risk of kidney stones because urine not expelled from the bladder completely becomes concentrated and leads to the formation of kidney stones. Symptoms of kidney stones can include intense pain in the back or side, nausea, vomiting, and blood in the urine.
BPH can cause an overactive bladder, which is a condition characterized by a sudden urge to urinate and involuntary bladder contractions that can lead to frequent urination. The enlarged prostate can put pressure on the bladder, making it more sensitive and causing it to contract even when it is not full. This can result in bladder fatigue, which occurs when the bladder muscles weaken and lose their ability to fully contract and empty the bladder. As the bladder becomes weaker, this can result in a feeling of urgency and the need to urinate frequently, including waking up at night to use the bathroom. An overactive bladder can significantly impact a man’s quality of life, making it difficult to engage in everyday activities and affecting their sleep.
Inability to Urinate
In severe cases, BPH can lead to a complete inability to urinate, a condition known as acute urinary retention (AUR). This occurs when the enlarged prostate obstructs the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the bladder. As a result, urine cannot be expelled from the bladder, leading to discomfort and pain. AUR is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention as it can cause damage to the bladder and kidneys. A catheter may need to be inserted to drain the urine and relieve the obstruction. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove or reduce the size of the prostate to prevent future episodes of AUR. It is important for men with BPH to seek medical attention if they experience difficulty urinating or pain while urinating, as prompt treatment can help prevent further complications such as AUR.
How can BPH be treated effectively?
Treatment for BPH can help reduce discomfort and avoid many of the aforementioned risks associated with the condition. Visiting your doctor regularly for screenings can help you stay on top of this problem before it gets out of hand. Ignoring symptoms may not be a good idea since the longer BPH is left untreated, the more severe the health risks become. Seeking medical advice as soon as possible paves the way for earlier diagnosis and an effective course of treatment.
Treating BPH effectively requires an individualized approach. Your doctor may suggest lifestyle modifications, including reducing your intake of caffeine and alcohol, to minimize symptoms. Furthermore, you may be prescribed medications that relax the muscles in your prostate, allowing for improved urination flow or the release of excess fluid from the prostate.
Additionally, there are minimally-invasive procedures that can be performed such as PAE. Prostatic artery embolization (PAE) is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat BPH. During the procedure, a small catheter is inserted through the groin and guided to the arteries supplying blood to the prostate. Tiny particles are then injected through the catheter to block the blood flow to the prostate, causing it to shrink. This procedure can be performed under local anesthesia and typically does not require an overnight hospital stay. PAE has been shown to be effective in reducing BPH symptoms, including urinary frequency and urgency, and improving urinary flow. It is considered a safe and effective alternative to traditional surgical treatments for BPH. However, PAE may not be suitable for all men with BPH, and it is important to discuss all treatment options with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for individual needs.
BPH is a common condition that affects the prostate gland and can cause urinary problems. While it is not a life-threatening condition, untreated BPH can lead to serious complications such as urinary tract infections, kidney damage, overactive bladder, and acute urinary retention. If you are experiencing any symptoms of BPH, it is important to seek treatment from a qualified medical professional. There are several effective treatments available for BPH, such as PAE, so there is no need to suffer from this condition. Schedule a consultation with 1Prostate Center in New York today to learn more about your treatment options and which option is best for you.