Relieve Common Urinary Symptoms Without Medication

If you are a male aged 50 or over, chances are you know someone taking medication for an overgrown prostate gland, better known as benign prostatis hyperplasia (BPH). This condition can cause bothersome problems including frequent urination at night, as well as difficulty completely emptying the bladder, and the urgent need to urinate at inconvenient times. BPH triggers noticeable problems in a third of men in their 60s and nearly half of those in their 80s. Drug therapy is often used to relieve symptoms, and for severe problems, surgery may be considered. But in the case of men with milder symptoms, BPH may not interfere with their daily lives much, so another option will be watchful waiting. 

urinary problems

During watchful waiting, you and your doctor monitor your symptoms closely and take action only when you feel it is necessary. Till then, simple changes in behavior can help to take the edge off urinary symptoms. This approach avoids the costs and risks associated with more aggressive treatment. 

Do you have BPH?

Irritative symptoms (problems with bladder function) include:

  • Frequent urination during the day or night
  • Strong and sudden urge to urinate, sometimes with involuntary leaking of urine.

Obstructive symptoms (problems with the flow of urine) include:

  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Straining to urinate
  • Incomplete bladder emptying
  • Weak or intermittent urine stream
  • Dribbling after urination.
urinary problems

What is BPH?

The prostate gland may begin to grow larger over time in many men. The urethra is the tube that conveys urine from the bladder to outside the body. It passes right through the prostate, so it doesn't take much prostate growth to make urination difficult. As the bladder works against the restriction, its muscular walls begin to thicken which can cause problems like the need for more frequent visits to the bathroom and difficulty fully emptying the bladder.

For some men, the symptoms of BPH don't demand immediate treatment. However, it is important to ask yourself questions like 'How much do your symptoms bother you?' Determining whether it is getting in the way of doing the things you want to do should be the primary driver of treatment. 

How bothersome is it?

To measure the frequency of a man's symptoms, doctors use the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS). It's a seven-item questionnaire that delves into typical BPH symptoms, providing a score from 0 to 35. Typically, men who score 8 and above are more likely to think they need treatment - but this can vary from man to man.

Nevertheless, for men who choose to watch and wait, it doesn't mean doing nothing. It should include strategies to lessen symptoms or make them easier to cope with. In one study, men who attended classes on such self-management techniques lowered their IPSS symptom scores by 6 points within three months. 

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Living with BPH and managing urinary symptoms

BPH progresses slowly, so most men can decide for themselves if and when they would like to consider medication or surgery. In most cases, men with mild to moderate symptoms often find that changes in fluid intake, medication use, and bladder habits can relieve BPH's bothersome effects. Let's take a look:

1. Medication Use

  • Alter the use of medications that may potentially worsen urinary symptoms.
  • Be sure to talk to your doctor about any medications that may contribute to BPH. Note that antihistamines and decongestants can cause problems for some. 
  • Don't take medications that may cause you to urinate more right before driving, traveling, attending an event, or going to bed.
  • Don't rely on ineffective dietary supplements. 

2. Fluid restriction

  • Change how much fluid you drink and when you drink it to prevent bothersome bathroom visits.
  • Don't drink fluids before driving, traveling or attending events where finding a bathroom will be difficult.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages after dinner or within two hours of your bedtime. 

3. Bladder habits

  • Change the time and manner in which you empty your bladder to reduce symptoms or make them less disruptive.
  • Don't hold it in. Be sure to empty your bladder when you first get the urge to. 
  • When out in public, go to the bathroom and try to urinate when you get the chance, even if you don't feel the need.
  • Take your time when urinating, emptying your bladder as much as possible. 
  • After each time you urinate, try again right away. 
  • Try urethral milking, this will prevent post-void dribbling. Gently squeeze the base of the penis after urinating and work your way outward to force urine out of the urethra. 
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