Updated: October 29, 2011 12:40AM
Dear Dr. Gott: My husband has been having a problem for at least a year with having to get up several times at night. Then he had a burning sensation when he went to the bathroom. He started taking a product called Super Beta Prostate. He went to a urologist, who gave him antibiotics and said he was retaining a day’s urine in his bladder.
Is there anything he can do, take or eat to help with the retention? The urologist said he could wear a catheter, but my husband is 83 years old and will not do this. Thank you for your help.
Dear Reader: My guess is that your husband suffers from prostatitis, the swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland. This walnut-sized gland is located directly below the bladder in men.
Symptoms include difficulties with urination, a frequent urge to urinate, dribbling, pain in the groin/pelvis/genital area and flu-like symptoms. The most common cause for prostatitis is a bacterial infection that can generally be treated with antibiotics.
Your husband’s condition may be caused by bacteria, stress, trauma to the pelvis, insufficient fluid intake, or an immune or nervous system disorder.
Diagnosis might begin with a digital rectal exam so a physician can determine if the gland is enlarged or inflamed, blood and urine testing, cystoscopy or urodynamic testing. If a cystoscopy is performed, a urologist then inserts a camera into the bladder to rule out other possible causes for symptoms. Urodynamic tests can determine how easily a man can empty his bladder when he feels the urge to relieve himself and allow his urologist to make an appropriate decision regarding the next step.
Treatment might include an antibiotic to fight any bacterial infection, over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen, or through the assistance of a group of drugs known as alpha blockers that should reduce his symptoms.
Moving forward on the home front, he might soak in a bath with about 2 inches of warm water, sit on a pillow to lessen any pressure placed on the prostate, try acupuncture, or eliminate excessive alcohol and spicy foods.
I can appreciate that your husband prefers not to be catheterized, but I do think that with the help of an understanding urologist, there are several options available without having to go that route -- at this point. If need be, have him request a second opinion through another urologist who might have a different point of view.
The Super Beta Prostate to which you refer is an herbal remedy for the treatment of an enlarged prostate. The key ingredient in this remedy is beta-sitosterol, a white plant sterol found in almost all plants, rice bran, wheat germ, soybeans and corn oils. This brings up the obvious question: Why not add rice bran, wheat germ, corn oil and soybeans to your husband’s diet and stay away from an unproven remedy that doesn’t have documentation regarding its effectiveness?
I have not had any experience with Super Beta Prostate, nor have I ever recommended it, but am led to believe it is not as effective as one might hope. Perhaps you might save your money, see a top-notch urologist and put the money toward an effective treatment deemed appropriate for his condition.