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5 Key Things You Should Not Do With BPH, And What You Should Do Instead

Benign Porostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) diagnosis

Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) is a technical term for an enlarged prostate and affects up to 50% of all men over the age of 50. Yet, despite its commonality, the problem often goes undisclosed by those who have the condition, with many, simply putting it down to ‘getting old’.

In reality, BPH is a treatable condition using ground-breaking treatments like prostate artery embolization (PAE). And while there are a variety of steps that people can take to alleviate symptoms, there are also a whole bunch of actions that we may unknowingly take that exacerbate the problem further.

With this in mind, I want to talk about the latter and five key actions or indicators you should avoid, so let’s get started…

#1 Stress

While stress is not the cause of benign prostate hyperplasia, there is evidence to suggest that it could be an aggravator. When we become stressed or anxious, our bodies release the hormone adrenalin. When adrenalin is released, it causes significant changes in the body that prepare us for fight or flight. These changes include increased blood flow to the muscles causing them to contract. One such contraction occurs in the small muscular gland of the prostate.

When the prostate contracts, it also causes the urethra to narrow, making it more difficult to urinate. In normal cases, this wouldn’t be too much of an issue but in enlarged prostate cases, this can be problematic as the frequent need to pass urine can make going to the bathroom painful.

It probably comes as no surprise that the higher the levels of stress, the worse the symptoms of BPH become.   

Essentially If you want to prevent symptoms of BPH from taking over your life, it’s important to remove yourself from stressful situations where possible or practice coping methods like mindfulness, meditation or yoga. 

#2 Some decongestants and cough suppressants

Believe it or not, even some seemingly harmless nasal decongestants or cough suppressants used to alleviate the symptoms of a cold can exacerbate an enlarged prostate. 

One of the side effects of products containing pseudoephedrine like Sudafed – a well-known nasal decongestant, is that they are known to tighten the prostate and the bladder neck. As with adrenalin above, when the muscles tighten, urine cannot easily leave the bladder, causing discomfort for those with benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Instead, look for decongestants that contain dextromethorphan or the expectorant guaifenesin. These compounds are unlikely to trigger prostate issues and can be found in products like Mucinex DM.

#3 Certain foods

Just like with many health-related problems, the diet we choose and the foods we eat can have a negative or positive impact on prostate health.

Foods high in acids, for example, like vinegar, tomatoes and citrus fruits can irritate the bladder by triggering an inflammatory response. Likewise, a diet heavily reliant on processed meats such as hotdogs or meat high in saturated fat, is thought to increase the risk of BPH by around 38%, according to one study.

And, while many people can’t live without a good cup of coffee, it’s worth remembering that caffeine is also a diuretic which means that it increases how often, how much and how quickly a person needs to use the bathroom.

Alternatively, a Mediterranean diet high in healthy fats and rich in antioxidants is thought to have a positive effect on prostate enlargement.

Foods like salmon (rich in omega 3), broccoli (containing sulforaphane) and berries, rich in antioxidants, all help to alleviate the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

#4 A sedentary lifestyle

Research suggests a sedentary lifestyle – e.g. those who do little to no exercise, are at significantly higher risk of either developing BPH or exacerbating existing symptoms.     

It’s thought that even a slight increase in physical activity to a moderate level is sufficient to reduce the sympathetic nervous system while at rest. These are the set of nerves that help your body activate its fight or flight response mechanism and the introduction of adrenalin.

In one systematic review, it was found that men who increased their activity by walking just 2-3 hours a week, were able to decrease the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia by around 25%.

In another study carried out on 320 men with identified BPH, symptoms also decreased by 76% when regular gentle exercise was introduced.

So how do movement and exercise alleviate symptoms of an enlarged prostate?

Nobody is 100% certain but it’s suggested that physical exercise may decrease estrogen levels in men. For many years, estrogen has been linked with the development and symptoms of BPH, so while high-fat diets can increase estrogen levels in men, regular exercise has the opposite effect. As a result, when we partake in moderate exercise such as swimming, walking and cycling, the risks and symptoms of BPH can decrease.

#5 Drinking water

Okay, so this one isn’t an “avoid at all costs” but BPH sufferers do need to watch their fluid intake.

While it’s understandable that many BPH sufferers avoid drinking water for fear of further trips to the bathroom, it’s equally as important to remain adequately hydrated because good hydration is critical for good health.

Dehydration, for example, can lead to concentrated urine causing further irritation to the bladder and heightened symptoms. So it’s important to strike a fine balance.

So how do you achieve that, exactly?

It’s suggested that you drink water normally throughout the day but make your last drink at least 2 hours before going to bed. Doing so will allow you to empty your bladder properly and  slow the process of frequent nighttime urination. 

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia – The key takeaway

Sometimes, having an enlarged prostate, and the associated symptoms, can feel like fighting a losing battle. But by avoiding factors like stress, certain medications and foods while increasing physical activity, it’s possible to be in better control of your BPH rather than it controlling you. Hopefully, these top tips allow you to do exactly that.

Alternatively, if your enlarged prostate is wearing you down and ruining your quality of life, get in touch with the Midwest Institute of Non-Surgical Therapy (MINT).

In our MINT prostate centers, we use the latest, proven non-surgical techniques like prostate artery embolization to get you back to health with minimal downtime.

Want to know more?

Get in touch with a MINT representative today!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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