An enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a condition that affects men over 50, but can begin as early as your 30s. It occurs when the prostate gland grows larger than normal, blocking the urethra and preventing urine from flowing freely from the bladder. Common symptoms of an enlarged prostate include frequent and urgent urination, problems with urine flow, incontinence and dripping, pain after urination, and urine left in the bladder. Urine that stays in the bladder due to an enlarged prostate can cause urinary tract infections or painful bladder stones. Fortunately, there are several treatments available for enlarged prostate.
The first step is to start taking prescription medications for prostate enlargement. One class of medication is an alpha blocker, such as Flomax, Rapaflo and Cardura. These medications relax the muscles in the neck of the bladder and the muscle fibers of the prostate, making it easier to urinate. They also reduce the size of the prostate by blocking hormones that stimulate prostate growth. Another type of medication is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, such as Dutasteride (Avodart) and finasteride (Proscar).
These drugs work by reducing the amount of testosterone converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is responsible for stimulating prostate growth. You'll usually have to wait three to six months for symptoms to ease with 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. According to an article published in Current Drug Targets, taking a combination of an alpha blocker and a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor provides greater symptom relief than taking either of these drugs alone. Combination therapy is often recommended when an alpha blocker or 5-alpha reductase inhibitor don't work on their own. The most common combinations that doctors prescribe are finasteride and doxazosin or dutasteride and tamsulosin (Jalyn).
The combination of dutasteride and tamsulosin comes as two drugs combined in one tablet. If drug treatment isn't enough to alleviate BPH symptoms, there are minimally invasive surgery options available. These procedures include transurethral microwave thermotherapy (TUMT). Microwaves destroy prostate tissue with heat during this outpatient procedure. The procedure reduces urinary frequency, facilitates urination, and reduces weak flow. The surgeon may also insert implants that keep the enlarged prostate away from the urethra so that it doesn't get blocked.
Eating more fiber (found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains) can help you avoid constipation, which can put pressure on your bladder and worsen symptoms of an enlarged prostate. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to talk to your doctor about treatment options for enlarged prostate. Treatment will depend on the severity of your symptoms and how they affect your quality of life.