Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) affects more than 50 percent of males older than 60, and more than 80 percent of those older than 80.
This article answers many frequently asked questions relating to BPH renal failure.
What is BPH?
BPH refers to an enlarged prostate that is not caused by cancer.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and penis. The urethra, a tube that transports urine from the bladder to the penis, passes through the middle of the prostate.
The prostate is responsible for producing an alkaline fluid that protects sperm after ejaculation.
This gland doubles in size during puberty and continues to grow throughout adulthood, but at a much slower rate. If the prostate grows too large, it can press on the urethra and interfere with the flow of urine.
What is renal failure?
Renal failure, commonly known as kidney failure, occurs when the kidneys can no longer remove waste from the bloodstream.
BPH can obstruct the flow of urine, and this can contribute to renal failure.
Other causes of renal failure include:
- autoimmune conditions
- side effects of some medications
- high blood pressure
- severe dehydration
- kidney trauma
There are five stages of kidney failure. A person with end-stage kidney failure requires continued dialysis or a transplant. Dialysis involves artificially filtering the blood to remove waste products.
How can BPH cause renal failure?
The urethra, which transports urine out of the body, runs through the prostate. When the prostate is enlarged due to BPH, it can compress the urethra and interfere with the flow of urine.
When urine cannot be passed from the body, renal failure can result.
An enlarged prostate may cause:
- difficulty urinating
- a low urine flow
- an inability to completely empty the bladder
- an inability to pass any urine
Other conditions that can affect urine flow include:
- kidney stones
- blood clots
- prostate cancer
BPH rarely leads to renal failure. However, severe cases of BPH can cause other complications, such as bladder damage, infection, and kidney damage. It is essential to report urinary symptoms to a doctor quickly.
People with BPH tend to notice changes in their urinary habits. They often complain of waking up more than once during the night to urinate. This symptom is called nocturia.
Other BPH symptoms include:
- urinary urgency
- increased urinary frequency
- the sensation that the bladder is always full, even after urinating
- a weak urine stream
- straining while urinating
- an inability to urinate
- difficulty starting to urinate
- dribbling urine
Some may have additional signs and symptoms such as:
- blood in the urine
- an infection of the urinary tract
- a complete inability to urinate, which requires a catheter
Symptoms range from mild to severe, and the severity of symptoms may be unrelated to the size of the prostate.
BPH symptoms may get worse over time, but they can stabilize or even improve.
Signs and symptoms of BPH renal failure
When BPH is responsible for renal failure, people will experience some of the urinary symptoms described above.
They may also notice some of the following indications of renal failure:
- chest pain
- swelling in the ankles, feet, and legs
- shortness of breath
- reduced urine output
In the later stages of renal failure, symptoms can be life-threatening. They include:
Medications for BPH can relax the muscles or prevent the production of hormones that cause the prostate to grow.
If medications do not work, a doctor may recommend removing a section of the prostate with surgery or laser therapy. Treatment is not always necessary, especially when there are no symptoms or when they are mild.
Minor symptoms can be treated with lifestyle changes, including bladder training, exercising, and limiting the intake of caffeine and alcohol.
The choice of treatment will depend on a person’s health, symptoms, and the size of their prostate.
When a person has kidney failure, other treatments are necessary to manage complications, such as high blood pressure and fluid retention. An individual with end-stage renal failure will require a kidney transplant or dialysis.
Most people with BPH will not develop renal failure, especially if they report symptoms promptly.
BPH symptoms usually improve with treatment. A person may need to take medication continually or receive repeated treatments to prevent symptoms from returning or getting worse.
For people with renal failure, treatment focuses on slowing down damage to the kidneys. In the final stages of the disease, a person will need regular dialysis or a kidney transplant.
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