How to cope with BPH
February 11, 2011
Are you a male, past 50, and feel the need to get up at night to urinate, or to empty the bladder often during the day? Or has your urine flow slowed down or does it dribble after urination? If so, it is likely that you have an enlarged prostate gland pressing on the urinary duct (urethra).
The walnut-size prostate gland sits at the base of the urethra, encircling it, and secretes part of the seminary fluid. Its primary job is to produce fluid that protects and enriches sperm. It can affect the quality of life for men aged 50 and above. As its function diminishes with age, the gland tends to grow in size and cause urinary problems affecting more than 50 per cent men in their 60s, and 90 per cent in their 70s-80s. The problems may by mild, moderate or severe and cause the one or more of the symptoms mentioned above.
Screening: All men above 50 should be screened for BPH and their family members should encourage them for test and treatment to prevent development of more severe symptoms which may affect their quality of life. Early testing and monitoring with health professionals, a proper diet and an active lifestyle contribute to ward off prostate cancer.
Talk to your doctor: It is recommended that all men over 50 years of age must discuss the prostate problem testing with their doctor, and if they have any problem even before this age, they should consult their doctor without loss of time.
Diagnosis: Prostate enlargement may be benign or malign. Only a medical examination and test can determine whether the enlargement is caused by infection or cancer. Here we discuss the form doctors call Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). If you have any of the difficulties mentioned above, you have to see your doctor to check and decide which tests to use to find the cause.
Physical test: Your doctor will take a complete history of your symptoms, and check the size of your prostate gland through the rectum. Millions of men have this test done every year.
He may need to look at your urine sample for signs of infection. If he thinks it is necessary, the physical examination may be followed by a blood test, an ultrasound exam or a biopsy of the prostate in order to make the diagnosis.
Antigen test: Prostate Specific Antigen test is a blood test that measures the level of PSA produced by the prostate. An elevated level can be an indicator of the presence of cancer, although it can also be an indicator of noncancerous prostate problems.
Once the doctor makes sure that your symptoms are caused by benign enlargement of the prostate gland, he may recommend waiting to see if your symptoms get better by themselves. In case they get worse, he may suggest treatment.
Drug treatment: Drugs finasteride and dutasteride block testosterone, the natural hormone that makes the prostate gland enlarged. But they reduce the sexual function and may not help all patients. Besides, the prostate may enlarge again and the sexual function resumes when you stop taking the drug.
The alpha-blockers, such as terazosin, doxazosin, tamsulosin and alfuzosin, used for a long time to treat high blood pressure, can also help the symptoms of BPH – even in men with normal blood pressure. These medicines, again, may not work in all men and they have side effects such as dizziness, fatigue and lightheadedness. Stopping the drug makes the side effects go away if you stop taking the medicine.
Surgical treatment: One of the treatment options is using heat to remove the prostate tissue pressing on the urethra. This is a minimally invasive treatment and can be easily done in the clinic. In case of persistent symptoms, the prostate may be removed surgically. The surgery leaves no scars and the risks are minimal. Usually, the gland removed is sent to the laboratory to test it for infection or malignancy.
Prostate health: Even if you are still under 40, you have to make the right choices now to minimize the risks to your prostate. The right choices today can mean prostate health in the future. The ailments linked to the prostate can be brought on by urinary tract infections, lifestyle habits, and a high-fat diet. So take good care about what you eat
Dietary factors: affecting the prostate. Diet may play a role in maintaining prostate health, and may help ward off cancer. Below are some common suggestions you can begin enacting today:
1. Eat lots of cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, cress, broccoli and similar green-leaf vegetables, fish and vegetable oils high in omega-3 fats. A diet high in saturated animal fats should be limited. Whole grains have fibre, selenium, vitamin E and phytochemicals which are good for health.
2. Drink plenty of fluids and nonalcoholic fluids to flush the bladder. Fluids containing caffeine should be consumed with caution.
3. Supplements and substances that help include the following:
• Lycopene. A recent study has found that this substance, found tomatoes, tomato products, red grapefruits and watermelons appears to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Cooking appears to release more of this healthful substance in tomatoes, so tomato-based pasta sauces and soups may be especially beneficial. Lycopene is fat soluble so is better absorbed when eaten with a little fat.
• Vitamin E. It reduces inflammation. Good sources of vitamin E include margarine, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, wheat germ and whole grains.
• Selenium. This antioxidant is found in nuts, seafood, fish, wheat bran, wheat germ, oats and brown rice.
• Isoflavones. They are plant chemicals that help lower dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male hormone that stimulates overgrowth of prostate tissue. Soy products contain isoflavones which help prevent prostate enlargement and protect against prostate cancer.
What to avoid: Avoid at all costs: alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, red meat and other substances that irritate the urinary tract. Also reduce excessive weight.