Is It Really BPH? Clues from Your Medical History

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Some reports indicate that as many as 30 percent of men who undergo surgery for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) have symptoms that were caused by something other than enlarged prostate.

A medical history helps doctors identify conditions that can mimic BPH, examples include:

  • Urethral stricture. Strictures can result from urethral damage caused by trauma, catheter insertion, or an infection such as gonorrhea and chlamydia.
  • Bladder cancer, bladder stones, or bladder infection. A history of blood in the urine suggests bladder cancer, whereas pain in the penis or bladder area may indicate bladder stones or infection.
  • Neurogenic bladder (problems with holding or emptying urine due to a neurological disorder). Neurogenic bladder is a possible diagnosis if a man has diabetes or a neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or stroke, or if he has experienced a recent deterioration in sexual function.
  • Overactive bladder. Another condition that can sometimes be confused with BPH is overactive bladder (OAB). The most common OAB symptom is a sudden strong urge to urinate that can’t be ignored.

A thorough medical history includes questions about previous urinary tract infections and prostatitis. The doctor will also ask about the use of over-the-counter and prescription medications (particularly cold or sinus medications), nutritional supplements, and herbal remedies. Some of these products can either worsen or improve symptoms of BPH.