One day after age 40, a man might wake up in the morning and rush to the toilet in a bid to relieve himself of the pressure built up in his bladder over the course of the night. Standing over the toilet, he might have to strain more than usual to pass out urine, which appears as a weak stream, ceasing and starting. At the end of it all, he doesn’t even feel the full feeling of the usual relief. One condition readily comes to mind, and that is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In this piece we discuss this disease almost exclusively associated with men over age 40.
In the actual sense of things, most men don’t start showing symptoms until age 50. In fact, about one third to half of men over 60 years show signs and symptoms and this would have been the most suitable age of reference. However, only men below 40 years rarely show symptoms hence it is proper to discuss BPH at 40. BPH is just medical jargon for non-cancerous prostate gland enlargement. The prostate gland produces prostatic fluid which forms a part of semen. It is located just beneath the bladder and the urethra which transports urine from the bladder to the exterior passes through it. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that prostatic enlargement impedes the flow of urine.
Till date, the only established risk factor for BPH is age. Some studies have tried to explain BPH as the result of varying levels of male sex hormones with age but no claim has been objectively substantiated yet. It might also be safe to say the cause is really unknown. BPH commonly presents as:
- Frequent or urgent need to urinate
- Increased frequency of urination at night (nocturia)
- Difficulty starting urination
- Weak urine stream or a stream that stops and starts
- Dribbling at the end of urination
- Inability to completely empty the bladder
Also worthy of note is the fact that other urinary tract disease conditions can present with these symptoms. Examples include prostatic cancer, prostatitis, urethral stricture, bladder or kidney stones and this makes certain investigations necessary to confirm a diagnosis of BPH. BPH is more of a problem because it can lead to complications such as:
- Recurrent Urinary tract infections
- Acute urinary retention
- Bladder stones
These complications are mostly related to the incomplete bladder emptying associated with BPH and don’t really happen in most men. It should also be noted that BPH is NOT a risk factor for cancer of the prostate and shouldn’t be thought of as such.
It is advised that professional help is sought immediately any of the symptoms listed above is noticed.