My BPH Story: Dealing with Enlarged Prostate Symptoms and Seeking Treatment
If you are suffering from symptoms of an enlarged prostate, you most likely want to find a viable treatment. If you are like me, you might be having difficulty getting complete answers from your urologist. Below is my benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) story. Hopefully, by reading my story, you will be able to not only relate, but find a way to alleviate your enlarged prostate symptoms with my recommended treatment.
The Start of My Enlarged Prostate Symptoms
I was in my early forties when the problems began. I lived in San Diego, but was employed by a company based in Milwaukee. I would travel to Milwaukee about once a month or so to attend seemingly endless day-long meetings. I survived these meetings by taking many breaks to get drinks (coffee and Cokes) and to visit the men's room.
During these trips, I developed a problem that I named the “Milwaukee Syndrome.” Each day around noon, my urination became difficult to start and the stream weakened. This improved by the time I went to bed, but would begin again the next day, again around noon. After a two or three day trip I would return to California and my “Milwaukee Syndrome” would disappear.
Getting Diagnosed with Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH)
I soon began to experience similar problems after finishing some restaurant meals. I went to a urologist who explained that my problem was an enlarged prostate, or benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). He said that there was nothing that I could do about it, but I should avoid “spicy” foods. If this problem worsened or if my sleep became interrupted with frequent trips to the bathroom, the next step would be a trans-urethral resection of the prostate (TURP) surgery to reduce the size of the prostate.
Escalation of Painful Enlarged Prostate Symptoms
My problem reached a climax during a lengthy business dinner at an Italian restaurant where we were drinking Chianti wine. About an hour into the dinner, I went to the men's room and found it difficult to urinate. I returned to the table only to leave again for the men's room in a few minutes to make another attempt to urinate. This was repeated several times during the dinner and I was eventually able to produce only a few drops. The discomfort was unbearable at this point.
I excused myself, ran to my car and drove as fast as I could to the nearest emergency room where I announced in a loud voice, “I need a urinary catheter – stat!” This marked the beginning of a 15 year ordeal with my prostate.
Enlarged Prostate Treatment with Drugs
I began seeing a urologist who prescribed various drugs to alleviate my symptoms. These drugs were of two types: hormone inhibitors, such as Proscar and Avodart, to inhibit the production of the hormone DHT, which is involved with prostate enlargement; and alpha blockers, such as Hytrin, Cardura, and Flomax, to relax the smooth muscles of the bladder neck, allowing easier urination.
Although the drugs helped alleviate my symptoms, particularly with sleeping through the night, I still experienced good days (and nights) and bad days. On some days, I had to urinate every hour or two, while on others I had a more normal routine. I was never able to connect good days and bad days with diet or life style but I did discover that certain foods would cause an almost immediate reaction.
Tracking Foods that Aggravate BPH Symptoms
These reactive foods did not seem to follow any pattern. For example, I could eat purple, Bing cherries without a problem but not yellow, Rainier cherries caused difficult and slow urination. Yellow corn (Golden Bantam) was OK, but white corn (Silver Queen) was not. White wine was good, but red wine was not. Peaches, nectarines and plums (except red) were fine, but tomatoes, squash, watermelon and orange juice gave me a problem.
Discovering the Role of Vaso-active Amino Acid
My wife has a master's degree in nutrition and using this data, she formulated a theory. She speculated that all of the troublesome foods had something in common, a vaso-active component that affected the blood vessels, especially those surrounding the prostate, urethra and bladder. Further research revealed the culprit to be tyramine, a type of amine which is a vaso-active amino acid. Also implicated in the research were the amines serotonin and histamine, as well as caffeine and mono sodium glutamate (MSG), a common food additive.
This information offered a solution to both the “Milwaukee Syndrome” and the Italian dinner incident. Caffeine is known to raise blood pressure in many people, especially those with borderline hypertension. During my Milwaukee meetings, I would typically consume large amounts of coffee and cola drinks (both of which contain caffeine), which adversely affected my vascular system. If caffeine increases blood pressure it must therefore have an effect on those blood vessels surrounding the prostate. Chianti wine is usually composed of juice from four different grape varieties, primarily Sangiovese. This ancient grape known to the Etruscans contains one of the highest levels of tyramine of any grape. This would explain the Italian dinner incident.
Creating a BPH Diet to Alleviate Enlarged Prostate Symptoms
Over the next several months, I compiled a list of reactive foods through trial and error. I changed my diet to avoid these foods and found that my enlarged prostate symptoms were greatly diminished. I was even able to sleep through the night again.
Lack of Support for Enlarged Prostate Diet Treatment
I brought this discovery to the attention of my urologist, but it didn't seem to impress him. I asked if diet had any effect on BPH and he said there was no evidence of this connection. What about his admonition to avoid spicy foods? What are considered spicy foods? He had no satisfactory answers. So much for the establishment!
I don't believe that diet can “cure” BPH, nor will it prevent the prostate from growing. When a prostate reaches a certain size it must be reduced by surgery or other methods in order to alleviate the symptoms of BPH. However, through my personal case history and the expertise of others in related fields, I strongly believe that avoiding certain foods and environmental factors can mitigate BPH symptoms and potentially postpone the inevitability of surgery. Take a look at the diet that alleviated my enlarged prostate symptoms - this list of foods may be a helpful complement to your enlarged prostate treatment.