Prostate Home > BPH Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) can vary, but usually involve changes or problems with urination. Trouble starting a urine stream, passing urine often (especially at night), and feeling that the bladder has not fully emptied are all common symptoms. At their worst, the symptoms can lead to complications such as a weak bladder, complete block in the flow of urine, and kidney damage.

Signs and Symptoms of BPH: An Overview

Many BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) symptoms stem from obstruction of the urethra and gradual loss of bladder function, which results in incomplete emptying of the bladder.

Common BPH Symptoms

Symptoms of this condition usually start after the age of 50. They can include:
  • Trouble starting a urine stream or making more than a dribble
  • Passing urine often, especially at night
  • Feeling that the bladder has not fully emptied
  • A strong or sudden urge to urinate
  • A weak or slow urine stream
  • Stopping and starting again several times while passing urine
  • Pushing or straining to begin passing urine.

Severe Symptoms

At their worst, BPH symptoms can lead to:
  • A weak bladder
  • Backflow of urine causing bladder or kidney infections
  • Complete block in the flow of urine
  • Kidney failure.
If the bladder is permanently damaged, BPH treatment may be ineffective. When BPH is found in its earlier stages, there is a lower risk of developing such complications.

Other Considerations

Early symptoms of BPH take many years to turn into bothersome problems. These early symptoms are a cue to see your doctor. In 8 out of 10 cases, these symptoms suggest an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH), but they can also signal other, more serious conditions that require prompt treatment. These conditions, including prostate cancer, can only be ruled out by a doctor's exam.
The size of the prostate does not always determine how severe the obstruction or symptoms will be. Some men with greatly enlarged prostate glands have little obstruction and few BPH symptoms while others, whose glands are less enlarged, have more blockage and greater problems.
Sometimes a man may not know he has any obstruction until he suddenly finds himself unable to urinate at all. This condition, called acute urinary retention, may be triggered by taking over-the-counter cold or allergy medicines. Such medicines contain a decongestant drug, known as a sympathomimetic. A potential side effect of this drug may be to prevent the bladder opening from relaxing and allowing urine to empty. When partial obstruction is present, urinary retention can also be brought on by alcohol, cold temperatures, or a long period of immobility.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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