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Common symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia include leakage of urine, incomplete emptying of the bladder, the need to strain when urinating, blood in the urine, the sudden urge to urinate, pain when urinating, pain after ejaculating, a weak urinary stream, dribbling after urination, and the need to urinate more than once per night. Severe symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia that require immediate medical attention include being unable to urinate at all, finding blood in the urine, feeling a lot of pain in the urinary tract and lower belly, having to urinate frequently, and experiencing a fever and chills. Generally speaking, symptoms of BPH tend to worsen over time.

Symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia fall into two categories, those that start in the bladder and those that are caused by pressure on the urethra, otherwise known as obstructive symptoms and irritative symptoms. Obstructive symptoms have to do with voiding, while irritative symptoms have to do with filling and storage. Voiding is the bodily process of discharging waste matter from the body, and BPH-related symptoms include diminished stream, incomplete emptying, urinary hesitancy, interruption of the urinary stream, straining, and dribbling. As for irritative symptoms, these include urinary urgency, nocturia, decreased void volume, and dysuria. Nocturia refers to waking up multiple times in the night to use the bathroom, while dysuria refers to difficult or painful urination.

In general, obstructive symptoms are more common yet less bothersome, whereas irritative symptoms interfere more with daily life and are therefore the reason that most sufferers seek treatment. Many of the urinary symptoms caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia appear in other diseases as well. Namely bladder and kidney stones, overactive bladder, urinary tract infections, problems with nerves that control the bladder, urethral stricture, prostate and bladder cancer, scarring in the bladder neck, interstitial cystitis, and prostatitis. It is therefore sometimes difficult for doctors to diagnose BPH without conducting a series of tests to rule out other conditions.

Looking at age and ethnicity, 50% of all men will show some signs of benign prostatic hyperplasia by the age of 60, and 90% of all men will show signs of benign prostatic hyperplasia by the age of 85. Approximately half of these sufferers will experience symptoms that are severe enough to require some sort of treatment. Moreover, black men tend to experience symptoms of BPH at a younger age than Caucasian men, and Hispanic men are more likely than Asian men to develop symptoms.

The good news is that there are a number of ways to control symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. For instance, exercising and eating a heart-healthy diet can encourage normal bladder emptying and help manage weight, which is important for the prostate. In addition to these lifestyle changes, it’s a good idea to limit the intake of antihistamines and decongestants, since these allergy and cold medications tighten the muscles responsible for passing urine through the body, making it more difficult to urinate. Lastly, cold temperatures can increase urinary urgency, so it’s smart to stay warm whenever possible.