Prostate problems are common in older men. About 1 out of 3 men older than 50 years will suffer with an enlarged prostate, a condition known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). By the age of 85 years, it will affect 90% of men. It is not the only type of prostate problem that will affect a man, especially as he gets older, but it is the most common by far. An inflamed prostate known as prostatitis is also a fairly common occurrence but is more frequent in a man with BPH. And prostate cancer is among the most common types of cancer in men.
While prostatitis and prostate cancer needs definitive medical treatment, an enlarged prostate is often managed conservatively. Most men have to learn to live with the problem. It is only when an enlarged prostate is causing severe symptoms that treatment is considered, or the prostate is even surgically removed. So what does living with prostate irritation, and specifically an enlarged prostate entail?
Most men with mild BPH do not have symptoms all of the time. It tends to flare up in episodes. However, moderate to severe prostate irritation may mean living with the symptoms on a daily basis. Medication is helpful but it does not mean that you should not make lifestyle changes. An enlarged prostate gland can block the urethra, the tube carrying urine from your bladder, and this in turn can cause a host of symptoms. Urine does not empty out of the bladder easily and it can eventually lead to bladder damage. It can even progress to a point where it damages the kidneys.
During episodes of prostate irritation, you may find that difficulty urinating presents in a number of ways. There is an urgency to urine and frequent urination. Despite urinating, your bladder does not empty entirely. The urine stream is weak and may stop and start. You may have to strain significantly to initiate urination and maintain it. Dribbling after urination is also common and can be an embarrassing problem. Remember that if you prostate is infected or there is a cancerous growth, then you need immediate medical attention. Prostatitis and prostate cancer cannot be managed only with lifestyle measures. Delaying treatment can have serious consequences and even put your life at risk.
Reduce Fluid Intake
An irritated prostate can cause you to feel the need to urinate frequently. However, urination may be difficult. To reduce this symptom, you should limit the amount of fluid you drink. Do not drastically reduce your fluid intake though. Remember that your body needs water to sustain life. Rather speak to your doctor about just how much of fluid you should drink and how frequently. Try to cut down your fluid intake especially at night. Waking up to urinate many times at night and the constant urge to urinate when you cannot upsets your sleep patterns.
Avoid Natural Diuretics
Some foods and drinks have a natural diuretic effect. This means it increases water loss through urination. If you are having difficult urinating due to a prostate problem, then you will want to decrease the amount of urine that is produced. Caffeine and alcohol are the main diuretics. Drinking too much of coffee or consuming alcoholic beverages can therefore irritate your bladder. Most foods do not have a diuretic effect as such, except for chocolate which has caffeine. But some foods can still irritate the bladder because it is acidic. Tomatoes, citrus fruits, pineapple and foods with natural sweeteners can worsen the symptoms to some extent.
Do Not Stop Water Pills
You may be using medicinal diuretics for a number of reasons. These ‘water pills’ are widely prescribed for conditions like high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart failure. The problem is that water pills cause you to urinate more frequently. However, you should not stop using your water pills. Speak to a doctor first – your water pills may be essential chronic medication and stopping it without medical supervision could be life threatening. Sometimes you doctor may lower the dose of the water pills, but if it cannot be stopped then you will need to bear with the condition.
We take it for granted that our bladder is empty once we urinate. But this may not be the case in prostate problems. Difficulty urinating means that your bladder may not be completely emptied. Yet it is difficult to force out urine in one continuous stream like you are used to. You may find that after you urinate, you can urinate again. Wait a few minutes after you have urinated the first time. And then try urinating again. This is known as double voiding and may be a better way to empty your bladder rather than straining to pass out all the urine in one attempt.
Change Urinating Habits
Apart from double voiding, there are other habits that you may need to adopt to ease the discomfort and bladder complications if you have an irritated prostate. Firstly you should try to schedule your bathroom visits to urinate in an attempt to “retrain your bladder”. It is helpful for men who feel an urgency to urinate and have to frequently urinate. Try to go to the toilet every 4 to 6 hours even if the urge to urinate is not overwhelming. Secondly, urinate even when the urge is mild. Most of us only urinate when the urge is increasing to a point where it is almost unbearable. By urinating even with the slightest urge, you can empty your bladder slowly over time thereby preventing bladder damage from urinary retention.
Stay Warm and Active
Our body tends to retain urine on colder days. It is no different for people with prostate irritation. The more urine you retain, the more the bladder wall stretches. This increases the urge to urinate. Overstretching of the bladder can ultimately lead to bladder damage. Keeping warm can therefore reduce urinary retention. Being physically active can also be helpful. By staying inactive you increase urine retention. However, you do not have to undertake a strenuous exercise program. Even moderate physical activity can reduce urine retention – walk around more often, take up a sport that you enjoy or commit to a daily stroll around the block. Activity should be constant throughout the day rather than just in specific sittings.
Prostate gland enlargement lifestyle. Mayo Clinic
Enlarged prostate problem. WebMD