WHAT IS INVOLVED?

The symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) include difficulty initiating urination accompanied by a sense of urgency, incomplete bladder emptying, straining during urination, need to urinate frequently, burn and urine leakage even after finishing to urinate. These can have a major influence on a patient’s quality of life and psychological well-being. But in some cases, BPH can have serious health consequences, especially if neglected. For example, urine retention is a symptom of progressive blockage of the bladder that, if untreated, can evolve into obstructive uropathy, the most serious complication of prostate hyperplasia, which may lead to kidney damage, stones and urinary tract infections. Therefore, it is important that the patient undergo regular examinations, as instructed by the physician, to monitor this problem and avoid complications. Not surprisingly, scientific studies show that medical treatment is one of the factors that can predict the course of the disorder and improve the patient’s quality of life. This is because symptom reduction also has an important impact on psychological well-being. Increasing symptom intensity corresponds to a measurable deterioration in quality of life: the more intense the disturbances, the higher the impact, which can often be comparable to that of chronic diseases such as diabetes.

The most annoying symptoms are the so-called lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). Weak urinary flow, urgency, frequent urination, incontinence, and nocturia - the need to urinate several times during the night. Among these, nocturia is a particularly annoying disturbance. Frequent awakening can result in daytime sleepiness, lack of energy, discomfort, worry, and disturbances to the relationship and sexual life. The constant interruptions of night-time sleep can also contribute to the development of psychological and emotional disorders, such as depression.

To date, clinical research has focused mainly on physical aspects of the disease, in order to find effective therapeutic solutions, but recently several studies have analysed also the psychological implications. For example, research published in the International Journal of Urology has revealed lower scores for emotional and social life, and mental health among patients with BPH compared to a control group without this condition. Moreover, another study has revealed a higher risk of depression among patients with BPH.

Suggested readings

  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia, University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC)
  • Pinto, J.D.O., He, H.G., Chan, S W.C., Wang, W., Health-related quality of life and psychological well-being in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia: An integrative review, Japan Journal of Nursing Science, 13: 309–323.
  • Komiya, A., Suzuki, H., Awa, Y., Egoshi, K., Onishi, T., Nakatsu, H. et al., Clinical effect of naftopidil on the quality of life of patients with lower urinary tract symptoms suggestive of BPH: A prospective study, International Journal of Urology
  • Clifford, G.M., Farmer, R.D.T., Drug or symptom- induced depression in men treated with alpha- 1 blockers for benign prostatic hyperplasia? A nested case-control study, Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 11, 55–61.
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