Symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH for short) are most of often mild at first, but usually will get more bothersome over time. It's very reasonable and safe to just keep an eye on it until it becomes bothersome enough to justify further treatment.
If the symptoms are getting worse, you and your doctor can then discuss medications. If you begin to have serious complications like urinary retention, it may be time to have a surgical procedure.
In follow-up visits every six to twelve months, your primary care doctor or urologist will measure your symptoms and perform a physical exam (including a digital rectal exam). He or she may also do a bladder scan after you use the bathroom to urinate to be sure your bladder is emptying as it should. This test measures what is called "post void residual."
Your doctor also may order blood and urine tests. Blood tests could include a blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine to check your kidney function and a prostate specific antigen (PSA). He or she might also ask for a urine sample to be sure there is not any prostate inflammation or infection.
Between visits to the doctor, you'll be encouraged to make simple changes in behavior that can help to ease urinary symptoms whether you choose treatment or not. Your doctor will recommend changes you can make to reduce symptoms, including:
- Avoid drinking fluids in the evening.
- Avoid drinking a lot of fluids before going out in public or starting a trip.
- Urinate when you first get the urge.
- Go to the bathroom on a timed schedule, even if you don't feel a need to go.
- When you go to the bathroom, take the time to empty your bladder completely. This will reduce the need for subsequent trips to the toilet.
Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as antihistamines and decongestants, may affect urination. You may be able to reduce the effects by changing the dosages, changing when you take them, or switching to medications that cause fewer urinary problems.
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