The prostate gland is a small structure that is located just underneath the bladder.
While it does not form part of the urinary tract, the urethra does lead through the prostate. This means conditions that affect the prostate can sometimes lead to problems with the urinary system as well.
Normally, the prostate only weighs an estimated one ounce and is often said to be the same size as a chestnut.
In some men, however, the prostate starts to grow larger, which can cause some problems to develop – not only with the prostate itself but also the urinary system.
We look at the risk of renal disease and damage to the kidneys in the presence of a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, which refers to prostate enlargement.
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What is BPH?
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a condition that is quite bothersome among older men.
While younger men can develop symptoms associated with the condition, the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia is significantly increased after a man turns 40 years of age.
Increased age leads to a higher risk, with up to 60% of the male population affected by the age of 90.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia refers to an enlargement of the prostate. In many cases, the condition is simply referred to as an enlarged prostate.
When a man develops this condition, the swelling that occurs in the prostate gland can lead to several problems and also discomforting symptoms.
In the majority of cases, benign prostatic hyperplasia presents itself as a relatively harmless condition that affects the male patient. Symptoms will often be mild at first and gradually get worse as the condition increases in severity.
One of the major issues is the complications that an enlarged prostate can lead to.
Early diagnosis of benign prostatic hyperplasia has been shown to provide a man an opportunity to get treated before these complications start to develop.
In turn, there may be a reduction in the impact that BPH could have on the man’s quality of life. Urinary symptoms would also not be as severe.
When the disease is not detected at an early stage; however, several lower urinary tract symptoms may develop, and, in some cases, the man may also be facing more serious complications.
What is renal failure?
Renal failure is also known as kidney failure. This is a type of kidney disease that is very serious and can lead to life-threatening complications – including death.
When a person has kidney disease, and they are diagnosed with renal failure, it usually means that they have the most severe form of the condition. Some publications also refer to this as end-stage renal disease or ESRD for short.
The kidneys are a critical part of the body. It is part of the urinary tract system and responsible for ensuring waste material can be removed from the blood. It is a good idea to think of the kidneys as the filters of the body.
Blood that goes into the kidneys is filtered. Clean blood will then leave the kidneys, while the waste materials that were in the blood stays behind in these two organs.
The kidneys will then transport the waste material, along with any excess fluids that have been collected, to the bladder. From here, the patient would empty their bladder when urinating – where the urine in the bladder will leave the body through the urethra.
When kidney disease develops, it means the functioning of these organs is not at an optimal level. Due to the filtration effect that they have in the body, kidney disease means excess fluids, and waste material present in the blood cannot be removed effectively.
This can cause the patient to experience an accumulation of fluids in their body. It also leads to other complications due to excess waste material being present in the system.
It is important to consider the fact that the kidneys are responsible for more than just acting as a filter in the body. When looking at renal failure, it also means other functions of the kidneys become impaired, such as:
- The ability to assist in controlling blood pressure.
- The ability to help with the production of red blood cells >
- The ability to help with the regulation of certain chemicals in the human body.
How can BPH result in renal failure?
Acute renal failure, which occurs when a condition such as infection causes severe damage to the kidneys, have been linked to the presence of benign prostatic hyperplasia in some men.
The connection is very rare, but it is still a possibility that men do need to take note of it.
The reason behind the connection is the restriction in urine flow that occurs when the prostate becomes enlarged.
The swelling that occurs in the prostate puts pressure on the urethra, as well as the bottom area of the bladder. The more pressure that comes from the enlarged prostate, the more of a restriction occurs with the man’s ability to urinate.
The restriction that occurs causes a failure in the man’s ability to completely empty their bladder during urination. When some urine is left behind in the bladder, it causes a risk for an infection to occur.
A urinary tract infection will usually be one of the more common complications that occur in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
One study, published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostics Research, found that as many as 62.85% of men with benign prostatic hyperplasia will suffer from some type of urinary tract infection.
The most common bacterial species that were isolated from the samples taken during the study included:
- Klebsiella spp.
- Staphylococcus aureus.
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
- Escherichia coli.
Urinary tract infections are not the only type of complications, however. When an infection develops, it may also affect the bladder, which is an essential part of the urinary tract.
The bladder allows urine to collect, after being deposited from the kidneys. With a direct connection shared with the kidneys, however, the development of these infections will also put these two organs at risk.
In male patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia that develop an infection of the bladder or lower urinary tract as a complication, a spread of the bacterium species toward the kidneys is possible.
This is a rare incidence, but when the infection spreads to the kidneys, it often leads to serious complications – with renal failure being one of the most life-threatening issues that these people may come to face.
Symptoms of BPH related renal failure
Men need to be on the lookout for signs of benign prostatic hyperplasia to ensure this condition can be treated during an early stage.
When treatment is initiated before complications develop, there is a much lower chance that the patient will have to worry about renal failure caused by the enlarged prostate.
At the same time, those men who have been diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia should ensure they also become aware of signs and symptoms that may signal renal failure.
The development of benign prostatic hyperplasia often starts with an increase in nighttime urination. The patient may find that they have to get up more during the night to urinate.
As the condition develops, the prostate grows larger, and the urinary symptoms may start to get worse.
Apart from increased nighttime urination, the patient may also experience these signs and symptoms:
- An urgency to urinate frequently – sometimes even after the person had urinated shortly before.
- Even though there is an urgency to urinate, once the man gets to the bathroom, their urine stream will usually be weak.
- The man may find that they need to strain when they urinate. This is caused by urination difficulties, linked to the constriction in the urethra that occurs.
- There may be a feeling like that man’s bladder is full, even when he has emptied it recently.
- Incomplete bladder emptying is yet another common symptom associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
- A man with these symptoms should see a doctor have a physical examination done. When benign prostatic hyperplasia is diagnosed, the patient needs to ensure they monitor the symptoms experienced. When symptoms become more severe, it can, as previously stated, lead to an infection – which could ultimately damage the kidneys and lead to acute renal failure.
Symptoms that may indicate a patient with benign prostatic hyperplasia is developing problems with his kidneys, and potentially also signal renal failure, can include the following:
- Fluid retention may occur. This can lead to swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet.
- There may be consistent chest pain.
- Urine volume may be diminished in the presence of renal failure since the kidneys are unable to filter blood and gather excess fluids from the body.
- The patient may find that it is difficult to breathe. They may also experience shortness of breath.
- Apart from these, some patients may experience nausea. Fatigue is another common symptom that develops when the kidneys are damaged.
When these symptoms are not recognized and acted upon quickly, the patient could experience a seizure or go into a coma. In severe cases, this can become a life-threatening complication.
How to reduce your risk of BPH related renal failure?
When a man has a higher risk of renal failure due to the presence of benign prostatic hyperplasia, then taking preventative measures is critical.
There are some ways in which the risk of renal failure can be effectively reduced among these patients.
Obtaining adequate treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia is the first step to managing the condition and ensuring there is a reduction in the risk of kidney-related damage.
When symptoms are not severe, the physician may not provide the patient with medication right away. Instead, they might tell the man to monitor their symptoms and report any new developments.
In cases where symptoms of an enlarged prostate seem to be causing the patient difficulties with their urinary tract, then there are two types of drugs that may be prescribed as treatment options.
The first type is used to help relax the muscle that is located at the bladder’s neck. The relaxation of the muscle helps to improve urine flow in men who find that their prostate is causing a restriction in urination.
The second type of medicine has also been developed to help to reduce the size of the man’s prostate. These medicines are known as 5a-reductase inhibitors. They block the functioning of an enzyme that converts hormones in the body. The use of this enzyme blocker also helps to prevent the prostate from becoming larger.
Several other treatments have also been proposed for men with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
The important factor here is to ensure the condition is not allowed to progress.
When there is a significant enlargement of the prostate gland, it leads to a higher risk of developing infections and other complications – including damaging the kidneys and causing the patient to suffer from acute renal disease.
Certain natural herbs have been suggested to potentially provide a similar effect as the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat the condition. There is also a surgical procedure that is sometimes used to remove some tissue of the prostate gland, which immediately reduces its sizes.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is common among older men and can affect more than just the patient’s prostate gland. When the prostate becomes enlarged, it can cause a restriction in the flow of urine.
In turn, this may lead to an increased risk of infection, as well as damage to the bladder and kidneys. In rare cases, a male patient with benign prostatic hyperplasia can also develop renal failure as a complication of the disease.