The prostate gland naturally keeps growing throughout every man’s adult life, but that doesn’t mean it becomes a problem for everyone. Your individual genetics and lifestyle affect how fast the prostate enlarges.
An enlarged prostate, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), becomes a problem when you start having symptoms. By the age of 60, half of all men have urinary symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate.
Many men don’t seek treatment at first because their symptoms are mild. But the prostate keeps enlarging, and without treatment, your symptoms get worse and complications can occur.
As specialists in men’s health, our team at Mike Hsieh, MD, encourages you to schedule a consultation at the first sign of prostate problems.
You may not need treatment in the early stages, but it’s still crucial to identify the cause of your symptoms and monitor the problem to determine when you need intervention to stay healthy.
Urinary problems caused by an enlarged prostate
The growing prostate squeezes your urethra, the tube carrying urine from the bladder, through your penis, and out of your body.
The increasing pressure on the urethra restricts your urine flow, leading to the following lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS):
- Difficulty urinating
- Slow or weak urine stream
- Urine stream that stops and starts
- Frequent or urgent need to urinate
- Urinary incontinence
- Dribbling after urinating
- Waking during the night to urinate
- Not being able to empty your bladder
As the prostate keeps enlarging, your bathroom visits become more frequent and a complete urine blockage could develop. Without treatment, you also put yourself at risk for other serious complications.
Complications of untreated BPH
Difficulty urinating is more than an annoying problem that disrupts your days and nights with trips to the bathroom. When an enlarged prostate blocks the urethra, some urine always stays in your bladder. Urine retention leads to the following complications:
Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Urine that stays in the bladder creates an environment that encourages bacterial growth and leads to a urinary tract infection. UTIs are not common in men, but when they occur, they’re often difficult to treat, frequently recur, and have the potential to spread.
A UTI may spread to your kidneys. Without prompt treatment, an ongoing kidney infection can lead to a bodywide infection and cause kidney failure.
Urine retention stretches and weakens the muscular bladder wall. Loss of muscle tone makes it harder to urinate — a problem you don’t need in addition to an enlarged prostate.
Your body eliminates excess minerals through your urine. They normally don’t pose a threat because they dissolve in urine. Problems begin when urine lingers in your bladder, giving the minerals time to crystallize and form stones.
Small bladder stones usually pass through the urethra when you urinate. Larger stones, however, may irritate your bladder, contribute to UTIs, or block the opening and cause a urine buildup.
As urine builds up in your bladder, it backs up into your kidneys, resulting in swollen kidneys (hydronephrosis). Hydronephrosis causes the following symptoms:
- Sudden or severe pain in your sides, back, or abdomen
- Nausea or vomiting
- Urinary tract infection
- Urinating more or less than usual
- Pain when urinating
- Blood in your urine
- Being unable to empty your bladder
Without immediate treatment, permanent kidney damage and chronic kidney disease develop.
Don’t wait to seek treatment
The best way to protect your prostate, urinary, and kidney health is to schedule an appointment as soon as you notice symptoms, even if they’re mild.
We provide preventive care and offer many effective treatments for an enlarged prostate, from medications to stop prostate growth to minimally invasive procedures that reduce the pressure on the urethra.
If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment, call Mike Hsieh, MD, in La Jolla, California, today or send a message online.