What Causes an Enlarged Prostate?
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is related to the normal aging process and is influenced by changes in the body’s levels of the male hormone testosterone. In some cases, an enlarged prostate may also be genetic. More than half of men age 50 and older and 90 percent of men age 80 and older have BPH.
Insert Images: Normal vs. Enlarged Prostate Here
Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate
While some men with an enlarged prostate/BPH experience no symptoms, many others may experience a variety of urinary symptoms that can range from mild and barely noticeable to severe and life-altering.
Some of the more common symptoms men with BPH experience include:
- Recurring, sudden need to urinate
- Increasingly frequent urination, especially at night
- Weak or interrupted urine stream
- Difficulty starting urination
- Urine leakage (urinary incontinence)
- Inability to completely empty the bladder
Caffeine, alcohol, spicy or acidic foods, certain cold and pain medications, and constipation can make symptoms worse. Left untreated, symptoms may worsen over time and can cause complications that may include inability to urinate (urinary retention), bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones or urinary tract infections.
Men experiencing any of these urinary symptoms should have a thorough evaluation performed by a urologist as other conditions such as a urinary tract infection, prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), prostate cancer and diabetes can cause similar symptoms.
Diagnosing Enlarged Prostate
The first step to diagnosing BPH is to see a urologist experienced in helping me with enlarged prostate. Your doctor will take a complete medical history and physical exam as well as perform a digital rectal exam (DRE). Your urologist may order a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. Elevated levels of PSA can indicate BPH, prostatitis (prostate inflammation) or prostate cancer. Through this comprehensive evaluation, your urologist will determine whether your urinary symptoms are indeed caused by BPH and next steps to treating your urinary symptoms.
Additional tests to make the most accurate diagnosis may include:
- Uroflow: Measures the flow and force of your urine stream and is often performed in patients who have an obstruction or other problems with urination
- Bladder Ultrasound (post void residual): A non-invasive ultrasound test that assesses the ability of the bladder to empty
- Cystoscopy: A small telescope is used to look inside the bladder to assess your internal prostate size and your bladder for stones, tumors, and signs of obstruction or other abnormalities that may cause your symptoms
- Urodynamics: A procedure which helps determine whether a blockage of the prostate is the cause of your urinary symptoms
- Transrectal ultrasound: Ultrasound to assess prostate size. This test is also useful to assess bladder function.