An enlarged prostate affects most men over age 80, and it's important to know the symptoms early.
The prostate is a small part of the male reproductive system, about the size of a small apricot. And the location of the prostate gland makes it a liability when it swells or grows.
“We think it’s due to hormonal changes that occur. The prostate gland enlarges, and because it sits in front of the bladder it constricts the bladder neck, which is the tube that allows urine to pass,” said Dr. Frank Costa, a urological Surgeon from Allegheny Health Network.
By the time men reach 60 years old, one-third of men in the U.S. will experience Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, or BPH, otherwise known as an enlarged prostate.
That number jumps to 90 percent for men 80 years or older, and many of them will have no symptoms.
BPH symptoms include frequent or urgent need to urinate, dribbling, pain, and inability to empty the bladder. Cold weather can make the symptoms worse.
“It could be something that just bothers one’s lifestyle, but in extreme circumstances it can present with symptoms that can actually cause kidney failure,” said Costa.
The biggest risk factor is simply aging. It is less common in Asian men than in white and black men. And studies show that obesity, diabetes and heart disease increase the risk.
BPH cannot be prevented, but it can be treated with medication or surgery. If you have urination problems that have developed over a few weeks or a few months and are frequent, call your doctor.
These symptoms are not always related to an enlarged prostate. Other conditions that may cause similar symptoms include urinary tract infections, prostate cancer, diabetes, heart failure, and neurologic diseases.