The cold season
The ‘cold season’ is fast approaching and if you are one of the 3.2 million men in the UK experiencing prostate problems, you should be aware of the risks when nursing a cold.
Not only does winter bring with it an increase in colds and flu, but for men with an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH), this time of year could also put you at greater risk of worsening symptoms if you are not careful about the cold medicines you choose to buy. This is because some over-the-counter cold remedies are known to exacerbate symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
Cold medicine ingredients to avoid with an enlarged prostate
Most men are unaware that some over-the-counter cold and flu remedies are contraindicated, if suffering an enlarged prostate.
Whilst looking for your cold and flu medicines, watch out for decongestant remedies containing pseudoephedrine. This is commonly found in nasal decongestants – it works by constricting the tiny blood vessels in the lining of your nose, drying up nasal secretions.
The problem is this same mechanism can worsen prostate problems, leading to increased difficulty in urinating or a worsening urine stream.
Phenylephrine is another common ingredient found in over-the-counter decongestants. It is in your best interest to avoid this substance as it can constrict the prostatic capsule, which in turn can lead to a worsening of symptoms.
What to do if your cold medicine worsens your symptoms
Most medicines should already state on the box that if you have a pre-existing prostate condition to consult your physician beforehand.
If you know you have an enlarged prostate
If you have already taken a decongestant containing pseudoephedrine to help ease your cold and are now experiencing heightened BPH symptoms, these will usually fade once you stop taking the medication.
However, if your symptoms do not subside after 4-6 hours seek medical attention. Alternatively if you are in too much pain or feeling particularly worried, go to the hospital as soon as you can.
If you don't have an enlarged prostate diagnosis
Some men only discover they have underlying prostate problems when they begin taking decongestants. If you have only recently started experiencing urination problems and are using or have recently used any nasal or oral decongestant, it is important that you get your prostate symptoms checked as leaving this problem untreated can bring about secondary problems, such as:
Bladder infections: When urine is stored in the bladder and becomes infected.
Chronic retention of urine: When urine builds up over a period of months or years, the bladder can become desensitised and you are less likely to feel the need to go to the bathroom. This may result in a backflow of urine which can lead to kidney damage.
Cold remedies that won’t affect the prostate
Although most decongestants contain pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, there are some which do not. These can be used to help ease your cold symptoms without negatively affecting your prostate.
One nasal spray that is not contraindicated with an enlarged prostate is A.Vogel Sinuforce, a fast acting nasal spray which helps to relieve blocked and stuffy noses by reducing the swelling of the nasal mucous membrane.
This spray combines powerful, natural ingredients of peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil which have the ability to wash out the nasal passages, and chamomile which soothes any irritation.
Another alternative to decongestant nasal sprays is A.Vogel Po-Ho Oil for inhalation. This is available in a 10ml bottle as well as an inhaler stick.
To treat the underlying infection and ease overall symptoms, I would definitely consider Echinacea. You can take this either in tablet or drop form, or in our delicious new Hot Drink. These help to ease cold and flu symptoms and strengthen the immune system, and are suitable for men with an enlarged prostate.
Cold prevention measures that won’t affect your BPH
After recovering from a cold, your immune system may be weakened and this will make you more susceptible to a cold in the near future. It is of the utmost importance that you take preventative measures to reduce the risks of a recurring cold. Follow my top ten tips to stay healthy and avoid colds and flu this winter.
Do you suffer from BPH? What are your tips to help protect your prostate whilst nursing a cold? Share them in the comment section below.
Meet our expert
Having trained as a doctor at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne, Jen Tan, Medical Director of A.Vogel, has been involved in herbal medicine research over a number of years, coordinating projects both within the UK and internationally.