Prostate enlargement, or benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), is a common, non-cancerous condition affecting nearly 14 million men over the age of 50.
The symptoms of prostate gland enlargement include a decrease in the force and caliber of the urinary stream, frequency of urination, urgency, a feeling of not emptying the bladder despite urination and nocturia, or the need to get up at night to urinate. Although lifestyle changes will not cure the problem, they can alleviate some of the symptoms.
Making some lifestyle changes can often help you control the symptoms of an enlarged prostate and prevent your condition from worsening.
Remember what goes in must come out. Therefore, don’t drink anything several hours before you go to sleep. Especially avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee (which also causes insomnia) and tea,as the caffeine acts as a diuretic and causes increased urine output that may result in getting up at night to empty your bladder.
Limit your alcohol consumption, especially at the dinner meal. Again, alcohol acts as a diuretic, causing increased production of urine and causing your bladder to fill up sooner than you would like.Avoid spicy foods. These appear to irritate the bladder and can result in urinary frequency and nighttime voiding.
Check your medications. Some medications like Lasix and hydrochlorothiazide are diuretics and increase urine production. It’s best to take those medications early in the day when going to the bathroom to urinate is not such an inconvenience. You may also speak with your doctor about lowering the dosage of the diuretic, especially the evening dose if you are bothered by nighttime urination.
Avoid antihistamines and decongestants, as these cause the bladder to decrease the force of contraction and result in the bladder not emptying as well. If you have to take antihistamines, use them earlier in the day.
Don’t hold off going to the restroom. This habit distends the bladder and can result in a weaker muscle to expel the urine from the bladder.
Use the clock to help with urination. If you find that you are going to the bathroom infrequently and then more at night, make an effort to urinate every 3-4 hours. Putting your bladder on a schedule is very helpful and a good habit to have.
Go and then go again. Double voiding is a technique to ensure adequate emptying of the bladder. If you stand at the toilet and empty your bladder, walk away from the toilet for a minute or two and then return and try emptying the bladder again. This helps to expel more urine from your bladder than just standing there one time and voiding.
Avoid cold seats, such as those at football games in the winter. The cold temperature seems to cause the muscles around the prostate gland to contract and makes urination difficult. Instead, take a blanket or a cushion. Your prostate gland will be glad that you did.
If you bike ride, especially for long distances, stand on the pedals every 10 or 15 minutes to take the pressure off of your prostate gland. Also consider using a seat that has a groove down the middle which alleviates the pressure on your prostate gland.
Bottom Line: These steps won’t cure the enlarged prostate but they will lessen the symptoms. If they don’t help, see your doctor for medication or one of the treatments that reduces the obstruction of your prostate gland.
Neil Baum is a urologist at Touro Infirmary and author of Marketing Your Clinical Practices: Ethically, Effectively, Economically. He can be reached at his self-titled site, Neil Baum, MD, or on Facebook and Twitter.