Can Caffeine Make BPH Worse?

Medically reviewed by Graham Rogers, MD on September 11, 2017Written by Annette McDermott

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a clinically enlarged prostate. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located near the bladder that’s responsible for producing semen. BPH is a benign condition that’s common in aging men. It may cause uncomfortable and annoying urinary symptoms, such as:

  • frequency
  • urgency
  • difficulty urinating
  • weak urine flow
  • inability to urinate
  • urinary tract infection

Caffeine may make these symptoms worse.

How does caffeine affect BPH?

Caffeine is commonly found in:

  • coffee
  • tea
  • chocolate
  • sodas
  • some medications
  • some supplements

It can trigger jitteriness, a racing heart, and difficulty sleeping.

Caffeine can also cause increased urination. This is because caffeine is a diuretic. It can increase how fast you produce urine. It can also increase your bladder sensation and contractions. Caffeine also tends to increase urinary urgency and frequency if you have BPH. This can be especially noticeable if you also have an overactive bladder (OAB).

A small study on adults with OAB symptoms measured the effect of caffeine on bladder functioning. The researchers found that a dose of 4.5 milligrams (mg) of caffeine had a diuretic effect on people with OAB when compared to water. Caffeine also increased how fast people’s urine flowed and how much urine they voided.

Tips for cutting back on caffeine

Kicking caffeine to the curb may help your BPH symptoms, but doing so can be challenging. Caffeine is a stimulant, and it’s often addictive. Learn more about the effects of caffeine on the body.

Caffeine withdrawal is recognized as a disorder and included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The most common caffeine withdrawal symptoms are:

  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • irritability and depression
  • difficulty concentrating
  • flu-like symptoms

Here are some tips to help lessen your caffeine intake and reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms:

  • Keep a journal. Knowing how much caffeine you have each day, including caffeine in coffee, tea, chocolate, medications, and foods, can help you cut back. You may be having more than you realize.
  • Don’t quit cold turkey. This may cause withdrawal symptoms to be more severe. Instead, gradually reduce your caffeine intake. For example, if you have two cups of coffee each morning, have one instead or make yourself a cup that is half decaf and half regular coffee.
  • Brew for less. You can easily reduce the amount of caffeine in your morning cup of coffee by simply brewing it for less time.
  • Cut the caffeine. Try herbal or decaf teas instead of regular tea.
  • Get enough rest. If you’re overly tired, you may be more tempted to turn to caffeine for a quick pick-me-up.
  • Take a walk. If you feel tired during the day, try walking for 5 to 10 minutes. This may give you a boost of energy and help you avoid that extra cup of coffee.

It’s important to learn about the ingredients in your prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements. Some pain-relieving drugs, such as Excedrin and Midol, contain high levels of caffeine. The antibiotics ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and norfloxacin (Noroxin) may prolong how long caffeine stays in your body. Echinacea, a popular supplement used to prevent the common cold, may increase caffeine’s concentration in your bloodstream.

Other lifestyle changes

Treatment for BPH varies. You may not need treatment, or you may need medication or surgery. In addition to limiting caffeine, you may benefit from these lifestyle habits:

  • Urinate when you wake up or whenever you have the urge.
  • Avoid alcohol or caffeine, especially at night.
  • Don’t drink large amounts of liquid at once.
  • Don’t drink within two hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid decongestants and antihistamines since they may increase BPH symptoms.
  • Avoid becoming too cold.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Do Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles.

These strategies for reducing stress may also help you to avoid anxiety-related frequent urination.

When to call your doctor

Your doctor can diagnose BPH by getting blood tests, conducting a digital rectal exam, and by asking you about your medical history. Contact your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • sudden inability to urinate
  • urinary tract infection symptoms such as burning with urination or pelvic pain
  • blood or pus in your urine
  • fever
  • chills
  • less urine than usual
  • inability to finish urinating

If you’ve been diagnosed with BPH, tell your doctor if any of your normal symptoms are getting worse.

Limit your caffeine intake

Caffeine and BPH don’t go together. The evidence is clear that caffeine is a diuretic and stimulates the bladder. For people with BPH who already have overactive bladders, it makes sense to avoid or limit caffeine.

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