what is bph

What is BPH? A man?s prostate gland starts out life roughly the size and shape of a walnut. As he ages, the prostate typically begins to grow. This growth is called benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. BPH is very common, affecting about half of men ages 51 to 60, and 90 percent of men over age 80.

BPH isn?t cancerous, and it doesn?t spread. However, as the prostate grows, it squeezes down on the urethra?the tube through which urine exits the bladder and leaves the body. The bladder has to continually work harder to push urine past the obstruction. Over time, the muscular bladder walls can become overworked and weakened to the point where a man has trouble urinating and emptying the bladder fully. Men with BPH may feel a sudden and constant need to urinate?including in the middle of the night. When they do urinate, their stream is often weak, and they have trouble fully emptying their bladder.

Doctors use several tests to check for BPH. In the digital rectal exam (DRE), the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for prostate enlargement. Urine tests and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test may also be done. Additional tests may be done to measure the strength of the urine flow (uroflowmetry), see how much urine is left in the bladder after urination (postvoid residual urine test), and visualize the prostate gland (ultrasound).

What is BPH treatment? Treatments depend on the severity of symptoms and a man?s overall health. A few medications are used to treat BPH symptoms. Alpha-adrenergic blockers such as tamsulosin (Flomax) and terazosin (Hytrin) relax the smooth muscle of the prostate and bladder to improve urine flow. 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors like finasteride (Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart) block the production of a hormone that triggers prostate growth.

If medicines alone aren?t enough to relieve symptoms, surgery may be done to remove excess prostate tissue. The doctor can remove tissue in the inner part of the prostate with an electric current or laser during a procedure called transurethral prostatectomy (TURP). Men with smaller prostates can have transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP), which widens the urethra to relieve pressure. Holmium laser enucleation of prostate (HoLEP) uses lasers to vaporize excess prostate tissue.

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