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Coping with BPH—the prostate problem that isn’t cancer

» A look at the gland

» Uncomfortable symptoms

» Help for BPH

Pamper your prostate

Typically, men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) are told to avoid acidic juices, caffeine, strong spices and alcohol, all of which might irritate the prostate. However, some people are more sensitive than others. Most men who have trouble urinating soon discover what makes the problem worse and reach their own conclusions about which foods and drinks to avoid.

Here are two pieces of advice that apply to all men with BPH:

  • To reduce the risk of infection, be sure to empty your bladder completely each time you urinate.
  • Drink about two quarts of fluid a day. Less will encourage infection; more will make your already overworked bladder work harder still.

An enlarged prostate can cause all kinds of trouble—from interrupted sleep to prostate infections to kidney damage. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), as this condition is called, is the most common prostate problem in men over 50.

A look at the gland

The prostate is a walnut-size gland that sits under the bladder. The urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis and out of the body, runs through it. The prostate manufactures half of the fluid that makes up semen, which it secretes into the urethra before ejaculation.

Uncomfortable symptoms

When the prostate enlarges, it becomes more difficult for urine to pass through. Because the bladder has to squeeze harder to eliminate urine, a man with an enlarged prostate may feel as if he has to urinate more often. Sleeping through the night may become a thing of the past. Other symptoms of BPH include difficulty starting the urine stream, decreased force of the stream and dribbling after urination has stopped.

Eventually, an enlarged prostate squeezes on the urethra so much that the bladder is strained, leaving it incapable of completely emptying itself. As time goes on, this situation can cause urine to back up into the kidneys, possibly leading to kidney damage.

Help for BPH

BPH can be treated with medications designed to shrink the prostate gland or to relax the tissues around the gland. If medication doesn’t help improve the flow of urine, surgery to reduce the size of the prostate may be required.

Anyone with symptoms of BPH should see his healthcare provider. Together with attention to personal habits, medical care can ease symptoms and help prevent the potentially serious complications of BPH.

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