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Affecting approximately 90 percent of men ranging in age from their mid-forties to eighties, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can lead to persistent and disruptive symptoms. Some men with a larger prostate may have minor symptoms, while others with a slightly enlarged gland might have more noticeable issues.
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If BPH symptoms are mild and not significantly disrupting urination habits, treatment may involve regular visits to a urologist for periodic observation to track any changes in the growth of the prostate gland and the progression of symptoms. Outpatient testing may include urine flow tests and a visual inspection of the bladder and other parts of the urinary system with a flexible cystoscope.
Barring serious symptoms, the first attempt at treating BPH other than watchful waiting is usually medication. Alpha blockers such as Flomax and Uroxatral relax muscle fibers in the prostate and bladder neck muscles. Proscar and Avodart are some of the specific types of 5-alpha reductase inhibitors that may be prescribed to inhibit hormone growth and shrink the enlarged prostate. Some patients benefit from a combination of both types of medication. There's also research suggesting the erectile dysfunction drug tadalafil could help manage BPH symptoms.
When BPH symptoms range from moderate to severe and medications aren't effective, minimally invasive procedures may provide relief. Some surgeries of this nature involve removal of the outer part of the prostate and cuts within this gland, while others use microwaves and radio waves to remove tissues.
Procedures that use high-energy laser beams are generally considered to have fewer risks than other types of surgery to remove prostate overgrowth. Ablative procedures use laser energy to destroy tissues and increase urine flow. Enucleative procedures often prevent regrowth of vaporized tissues.
Another non-surgical treatment option for men with mild BPH is changes to lifestyle habits. What's specifically recommended is usually based on what's most comfortable for patients. For instance, some men may prefer to start with mild changes such as drinking more water, limiting liquids before bed, and avoiding excessively spicy, sugary, or processed foods. Other recommendations may include:
Frequent urination is the symptom most men first notice when their prostate starts to press on the bladder. Since this can be a sign of many different urinary system problems, a urologist typically performs several tests to make a positive diagnosis so an appropriate treatment can be suggested. Such testing typically includes a digital rectal exam, urine and blood tests, and a urine flow test. You may also be asked to keep a voiding diary for a day or two to track urination patterns.
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