Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms or LUTS is a group of urinary symptoms triggered by an obstruction, abnormality, infection or irritation of the urethra, bladder, bladder neck, urinary sphincter and/or prostate (in men). LUTS can also be caused by a neurological health condition or injury. Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms can be categorized as being related to urine storage or voiding (obstruction), and present themselves as various voiding dysfunctions. Both men and women are diagnosed with Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms, but it is most often diagnosed in men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH or enlarged prostate). LUTS is not a normal part of the aging process, but it is diagnosed more often as people age.
Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms – storage
In addition to BPH, individuals with overactive bladder, chronic pelvic pain (Interstitial Cystitis), inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis) or urinary tract infections typically experience lower urinary tract symptoms associated with urine storage, irritation or inflammation. These symptoms can include:
- Urinary frequency
- Urinary urgency
- Urge incontinence
- Nocturia – using the restroom several times during the night
LUTS voiding/obstruction symptoms
Individuals diagnosed with LUTS may also exhibit voiding issues caused by a blockage such as BPH. As men age, their prostate naturally enlarges. For some men, excess prostate tissue can slowly squeeze the urethra and block the normal flow of urine. When this occurs, these men may experience:
- Hesitancy – although the person feels that they have to urinate, the urine flow doesn’t start immediately
- Weak or intermittent stream – urine flow starts and stops
- The individual strains to start or continue urination
- There is dribbling after urination
- A feeling of incomplete emptying
LUTS can also be brought about by medical conditions and lifestyle choices that affect the lower urinary tract. Conditions such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure can contribute to lower urinary tract symptoms. Likewise, bladder irritants such as smoking, caffeine, alcohol intake and certain food choices can produce LUTS.
In order to treat lower urinary tract symptoms, it is important to properly diagnose the underlying condition or behavior. When visiting a Urologist, individuals can expect a thorough review of their medical history, current conditions and medications, and a physical examination. In addition, the provider may recommend diagnostic tools such as a urinalysis, blood tests, imaging and a digital rectal exam (for men) to analyze the prostate gland.
If you are experiencing bothersome urinary symptoms, we recommend that you contact Urology Austin to schedule an office visit with one of our providers.
BPH Patient Navigation at Urology Austin