A few years ago, the only available treatment option for an enlarged prostate was surgery. Going under the surgeon’s knife was the only way out for enlarged prostate treatment. And come to think of it, enlarged prostate (also called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) is not a rare condition at all! It is so common that they say all men will definitely have it if they live long enough. Half of all men between 51-60 years old have it. As much as 90% of men above 80 years have an enlarged prostate.
Things have changed now, thanks to researchers and drug makers. You need not worry when deciding on how to treat an enlarged prostate. There are now a lot of treatment options to pick from. Lifestyle changes can help if your symptoms are mild. Moderate symptoms can also be treated by taking medications. Except you have severe prostate enlargement, doctors will not recommend surgery.
Sometimes, You Just Have To Watch and Wait
People react differently to the symptoms of an enlarged prostate. It is therefore difficult to say the same thing works fine for everyone. Usually, the best thing is to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. He will advise you on how best to handle your case.
Truly, medications are good for treating an enlarged prostate. But then, you shouldn’t jump at them simply because they work. Sometimes, it is better to just keep things under watch. This is especially recommended if the symptoms do not bother you much, and there are no complications whatsoever.
‘Keeping things under watch’ means going for regular checkups. A visit to your doctor once every year is good enough. The doctor would check for changes in your symptoms. If symptoms remain mild, then you may not need medications. Just a few lifestyle changes will do.
Lifestyle change is the cheapest way to treat any medical condition. It costs far less than any medical or surgical treatment option. Some men with mild symptoms get better with just lifestyle changes. They eventually do not have to take drugs or go for surgery.
More so, drugs have side effects. It is therefore not advisable for you to take them except they are absolutely necessary. If your symptoms do not negatively impact your quality of life, then consider making some lifestyle changes. It has the potential to improve your condition.
What are the lifestyle changes that you need to consider?
- You should drink fewer liquids before bedtime
- Generally, reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake
- Reduce your consumption of spicy foods, and eat a healthy low-fat diet.
- Eat more fiber to prevent constipation. Constipation can worsen your symptoms
- Shed off some weight if you are overweight
- Do regular exercise
Making changes in your habit and lifestyle can ease your symptoms. However, don’t forget to visit your doctor for regular checkups at least once a year.
When Are Drugs Needed for Enlarged Prostate Treatment?
When enlarged, the prostate becomes more advanced, symptoms are no longer mild. At that point, your doctor may recommend that you opt for medical treatment.
But how do you know that the enlarged prostate is already advanced? Here are a few signs:
- You have to pee like 8 times or more daily
- The frequency of your urination interferes with your quality of life
- You feel like your bladder is full, even after you have just peed
- A sense of urgency whenever you feel like peeing (You can’t hold back your urine for long)
- You have trouble in starting to pee (Urinary hesitancy)
- You notice that your urine stream is weak
- You have some trouble with dribbling after urinating
- You have to stop and start again several times while peeing
- Leakage of urine
It is better to start treatment as soon as you notice these symptoms. This is because an enlarged prostate is a progressive condition. This means that if you don’t get proper treatment, your symptoms will keep getting worse.
There are medications that will just help you ease the symptoms that you feel. However, some other medications deal with more than just the symptoms. They ultimately stop your prostate from growing bigger. They may even shrink the size of the prostate.
Really, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to the treatment of an enlarged prostate. You should discuss with your doctor what’s best for you. Common medications for an enlarged prostate include:
These drugs relax the muscles of your prostate. This, in turn, improves the function of the urinary system.
Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors
Actually, these medications are primarily for erectile dysfunction. However, they can also help relieve symptoms of an enlarged prostate. They have the ability to also relax muscles in the urinary tract.
These drugs can stop the growth of your prostate gland. They may even cause it to shrink in size. That way, the unwanted enlargement will be reversed to a good extent.
Your doctor may recommend that you combine two or more types of medication.
Surgical Treatment for an Enlarged Prostate
Hopefully, lifestyle changes and medications will improve your symptoms if you have an enlarged prostate. But if not, then you may need to opt for surgical treatment. Doctors usually try minimally invasive procedures first. If this does not work, then surgery is inevitable.
What do doctors do during a minimally invasive procedure? They will insert an instrument through your penis. Then, they will widen your urethra to improve your urinary functions. They may also insert an instrument through your anus. This is so as to gain access to the prostate and destroy excess prostate tissue.
The minimally invasive procedure should improve your symptoms sufficiently. But if not, then your doctor will recommend surgery. However, minimally invasive procedures are sometimes bypassed. The doctor just goes straight to recommend surgery.
This happens when the symptoms are already very severe or if there are complications. Some signs and symptoms of complications are as follows:
- You have painful urination
- There is a difficulty with urination
- Urinary tract infections that keep recurring
- There is blood in your urine
- You have sexual dysfunction
- Kidney damage
- Bladder stones
Surgery is not so rare for people with an enlarged prostate. The most common type of surgery for an enlarged prostate is transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). It is performed on about 150,000 men in the U.S. alone every year.
Asides TURP, there are other surgical options, namely:
- Transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP)
- Open prostatectomy
- Laser surgery
Some of these surgeries can be done under an hour. You can even go back home the same day. However, some others may take longer and require a hospital stay.
An enlarged prostate can have a great impact on your quality of life. However, you don’t have to worry. There are a variety of enlarged prostate treatment options. When you work closely with your doctor, you will be able to manage your symptoms well. Furthermore, your doctor will recommend the best form of treatment for you.