Is Stress Making My BPH Symptoms Worse?
January 22, 2020
Benign prostate hyperplasia or, BPH, is a common, progressive urological condition that can seriously impede the fluidity of your life. This condition, which has to do with the enlargement of the prostate, occurs in men around the age of 50. At 60 years old, 50% of men start exhibiting symptoms of BPH. And by age 85, 90% of men will experience symptoms of BPH.
BPH is normal prostate tissue growth which begins to obstruct the outlet of the bladder, squeezing down on the urethra. Luckily, BPH treatment methods are very well researched, it is not a cancerous condition and does not predispose one to cancer. However, BPH is a progressive disease that can lead to bladder damage, chronic infections, the inability to urinate, blood in the urine, and even kidney damage if left untreated.
What Are Some Symptoms of BPH?
Typical symptoms of BPH include urinary frequency, urinary urgency, a sensation of the bladder not fully emptying after urination, straining to begin a urinary stream, getting up throughout the night to urinate, frequent prostate or urinary tract infections, stopping and starting during urination and a weak urinary stream.
BPH occurs when the cells of the prostate gland begin to multiply. These additional cells cause the prostate gland to swell or enlarge. The enlargement of the prostate gland squeezes the urethra and limits the flow of urine causing urinary symptoms associated with BPH.
Can Stress Cause BPH?
As is the case with many other diseases and conditions, stress can be an aggravator. But what about when it comes to BPH diagnosis and treatment? Can stress cause BPH and associated symptoms? The short answer is no. But the longer version does indicate that stress can cause the symptoms of BPH to get worse.
Stress causes a “fight or flight” response releasing adrenaline into the body. Adrenaline causes the bladder to effectively “shut down.” If BPH symptoms are already present it can make them temporarily worse when the stress level is high enough for the body to respond by releasing adrenaline.
How to Fend Off Stress and BPH
Studies have found that men who had experienced recent stress had more difficulty emptying their bladders than those who were not stressed. Additionally, men who had the most stress had more severe BPH symptoms than those who did not. This makes managing stress another way to help alleviate the symptoms of BPH. Below are seven simple techniques that can be easily incorporated into daily life to release stress and help ward off the adrenaline rush that makes BPH symptoms worse.
Exercise helps to burn off the hormones released during stress or stressful events. Exercises that combine physical cardiovascular activity and relaxation are especially beneficial. Twenty to thirty minutes a day of walking, yoga, tai chi, qigong or a light jog can do the trick and reduce BPH symptoms by 25%. Another added benefit is weight loss which is an overall win-win for your health.
2. Avoid the binge
When stressed, many will turn to caffeine, alcohol, food or nicotine to relax. Not only are these methods ineffective in reducing stress, but they can also actually cause MORE stress and cause a worsening of BPH symptoms alone. Obesity has also been linked to BPH while smokers are more likely to be diagnosed with BPH. Both alcohol and caffeine will irritate the bladder and the prostate temporarily increasing BPH symptoms.
3. Work on your breath
Concentrating on slowing the rate of your breath for several minutes a day will slow the body’s “fight or flight” response and reduce the amount of adrenaline dumped into the body. Increase this to several minutes a day, a few times throughout the day, and you are giving your body a break. If you can find a quiet place and take a few slow, deep breaths concentrating on your breath only–you’ll beat back the stress.
4. Train your mind to focus on your body
Body scanning is another method to take your mind off the stress. It’s a distraction technique that can be relaxing. It involves quietly scanning your body– starting at your head and working down to your feet, paying attention to each body part as you go. As you come to each part of your body in your scan, focus on letting all the tension in that area go.
5. Learn to meditate
Breathwork and body scanning are similar to meditation. But if you can carve out 10-20 minutes of the day to sit quietly to mediate it will reduce your stress in the moment and help alleviate stress throughout the day. There are apps for mediation that include guided meditations or simple timed mediations to get you started and keep you on track.
6. Chill Out
Any form of relaxation helps the body to decrease the fight or flight adrenaline dump and instead release a chemical that opens up blood vessels (nitric oxide) which helps BPH relief. Read a good book, go for a walk, listen to some relaxing music, take a hot shower and indulge in activities that help you to unwind.
7. Strengthen your core
Careers today are not only stressful, but sedentary. Jobs are on the rise that keep you sitting all day at a desk– (tech jobs) or transport jobs where you are driving for most of the day. Prolonged sitting can weaken your pelvic floor/core muscles which help in bladder emptying. Daily exercises like planks or classes specific to core work (yoga, pilates) will keep those pelvic floor/core muscles in shape if your job keeps you at a desk or in a car and sitting for long periods of time.
BPH Treatment and Diagnosis
The prevalence of BPH diagnosis is far-reaching with men typically seeking out BPH treatment long after symptoms have become bothersome and disruptive to their lives. In some cases, due to chronic untreated BPH symptoms, irreversible damage has been done to the bladder.
Don’t add even more stress to an already stressful condition. Get the best BPH treatment options in Texas at the Austin Urology Institute and get back to your life. For more information or to make an appointment with a provider call us at (512) 694-8888 or drop us a note.