BPH and the New You
A common problem for men is the enlargement of the prostate gland, often called BPH (benign prostate hyperplasia). It is not just a consequence of an aging body, but may also be the product of a variety of lifestyle choices and other factors.
Often, men who are over 50 believe that prostate enlargement is just another part of getting older. The common perception is that BPH naturally goes along with getting older, like poorer eyesight, graying hair and memory loss.
Even though your prostate tends to enlarge somewhat after your 40th birthday, not all men develop problems with their prostate after that milestone. Many men go through their senior years not being bothered by such lower urinary tract symptoms as incontinence, problems urinating or weak urine flow.
So don’t assume that BPH and its symptoms are purely a direct part of getting older. BPH is actually tied to your lifestyle and other health conditions, like obesity, erectile dysfunction, diabetes and heart disease.
If prostate enlargement is causing you urinary tract issues, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help relieve discomfort.
- Limit your daily fluid intake to less than about 2 quarts.
- Cut down n alcohol and caffeine.
- Limit beverages in the evening.
- Try to urinate at least once every 3 hours.
- After urinating, wait a bit and try to see if you can eliminate some more.
- Stay active. Cold weather and immobility may increase the risk for urine retention. Keeping warm and exercising may help.
Avoid Medications that Can Aggravate Your Prostate
Men with BPH should avoid, when they can, the many medications for colds and allergies that contain decongestants, like pseudoephedrine, sold as Sudafed. These drugs, known as adrenergics, can worsen urinary symptoms by preventing muscles in the prostate and bladder neck from relaxing, preventing urine an easy release. Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can also slow urine flow in some men with BPH.
Men who are taking diuretics, which increase urination, may want to talk to their doctor about reducing the dosage or switching to another drug. These are important drugs for many people with high blood pressure, with a proven track record of saving lives. No one should go off these medications without medical supervision.
Squeeze Your Pelvic Floor
Try squeezing the muscles in your groin area, and holding for a few seconds. Repeat a few times. These exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that both support the bladder and close the sphincter.
Healthy Food Choices
A heart-healthy diet rich in vegetables and fruit may help reduce BPH risk. Some evidence indicates that fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C may help protect against BPH. Dietary choices should also focus on increasing intake of healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, and limiting intake of saturated fats and trans-fatty acids.
Saw palmetto is one of the most popular herbal remedies for BPH. It comes from the berry of the plant Serenoa repens. Saw palmetto is commonly used by natural health practitioners help with a variety of ailments, such as inflammation of the testes, urinary tract inflammations, coughs, and even respiratory congestion. It is sometimes also taken to strengthen the thyroid gland, balance metabolism, stimulate appetite, and aid overall digestion.
Other popular herbs include extracts from African plum tree (Pygeum africanum), rye grass pollen (Secale cerale), stinging nettle root (Urtica dioica), South African star grass (Hypoxis rooperi), and pumpkin seed oil (Cucurbita peponis). Beta-Sitosterol is a natural compound that may be found in certain fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. It has a history of being beneficial for a number of health issues.
Some of these benefits may include anti-inflammatory properties, strengthening the immune system, lowering high cholesterol, helping a weak immune system, and especially for urinary issues due to symptoms of BPH, and possibly even preventing hair loss.
Although modern medicine has many solutions for men with BPH, most are full of potential side effects. Prescriptions drugs for prostate issues can also lead to loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction and a decrease in semen volume. In rare instances, it can even cause a man’s breasts to enlarge.
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