A urinary tract infection is usually caused by the bacteria E. coli finding their way into the urethra, but it can also be the result of stagnant urine left sitting in the bladder allowing bacteria normally found in the urinary tract to multiply. It is possible for an enlarged prostate to obstruct the complete emptying of a male’s bladder, thus adding to his chances of getting a UTI.
However, it is also possible for a urinary tract infection to cause prostatitis; a temporary swelling and inflammation of the prostate. The two share most of the same symptoms which may confuse the sufferer even more, especially if he has both issues simultaneously.
An enlarged prostate is not the same as prostatitis. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also referred to as an enlarged prostate, is a common result of aging rather than an illness. A man’s prostate is located near the bladder, and his urethra passes through the middle of it. A prostate keeps growing throughout a man’s life, but it isn’t quite clear why it often enlarges after the man is older. One third of males have an enlarged prostate by their sixties, and one half by their eighties. It is thought to be an imbalance in hormones.
Since the urethra is centered in the prostate, an enlarged prostate can easily cause difficulties.
Complications of enlarged prostate
- Urinary retention. An inability to urinate at all which is considered a medical emergency, and a catheter or surgery may be necessary to empty bladder and fix the issue.
- UTI. Yes, an enlarged prostate can put a man at risk for a urinary tract infection by making it more difficult to empty the bladder completely, which allows bacteria to thrive and multiply. Recurring UTIs may require surgery to remove part of the prostate.
- Bladder stones, caused by inability to completely empty the bladder.
- Bladder damage. The muscle walls may lose their elasticity as urine is held inside all the time, the bladder stops contracting properly and can no longer squeeze tight enough to push out urine.
- Kidney damage. Pressure is put on the kidneys by bladder retention, and an infection in the bladder can easily reach the kidneys.
Risk factors of enlarged prostate or UTI
The risk factors of having an enlarge prostate are:
- Patient’s age – one third of men over 60 and one half over 80 are diagnosed with BPH.
- Family history – a blood relative, such as a father or brother, has BPH.
- The patient suffers from diabetes or heart disease.
- The patient’s lifestyle – obesity plays a role in BPH, exercise may help lower the risk.
The risk factors for UTIs are more extensive
- A suppressed immune system- caused by immunosuppressants or illness
- Catheter use – after surgery or to empty bladder completely
- Poor hygiene – failure to wash often or urinate after sexual encounters
- Blockages – kidney stones, enlarged prostate
- Urinary procedure
- Abnormal narrowing of urethra
- Inability to voluntarily control urination
Confusing an enlarged prostate, a UTI, and other issues
The main symptoms of an enlarged prostate can often be confused with other conditions, including urinary tract infections. It is also a possibility that a man may suffer from more than one condition at a time. That is why a doctor’s diagnosis is a necessity. Tests will indicate which condition or conditions are present. The man can then be treated for any one or more that are occurring. Several conditions intertwine and may cause one of the others.
An enlarged prostate (BPH) gives men an increased feeling of urgency to urinate. It will add to the trips men take to the restroom during the nighttime hours. Men may have difficulty beginning to urinate, and once they’ve begun the stream may stop and start several times. There could be some dribbling at the end of urination, along with the inability to completely empty the bladder.
Conditions that mimic BPH:
- A urinary tract infection
- A narrowed urethra
- Surgical scarring in the bladder’s neck
- Kidney and bladder stones
- Nerve issues in the bladder
- Prostate or bladder cancer
An enlarged prostate does have the ability to bring on a UTI, but a urinary tract infection may cause prostatitis (temporary swelling and inflammation of the prostate) which has similar symptoms. Both conditions, or even an enlarged prostate, can be present at the same time. All will need to be diagnosed and treated by the physician.
If patients are already aware that they have an enlarged prostate, then they should pay close attention to the warning signs of a UTI. Get treatment before the urinary tract infection passes from the bladder to the kidneys. Once it’s made it to the kidneys there will be more pain, high fever, blood in the urine, and possible kidney damage. The recovery time will be longer and may be spent in a hospital bed.
Patients can help prevent a urinary tract infection by drinking plenty of water (six to eight large glasses a day), using proper hygiene (cleaning before and after sex, especially if men are uncircumcised), going to the bathroom when the urge first hits, emptying the bladder completely, keeping diabetes and other illnesses under control, and urinating immediately after sexual encounters.