OBJECTIVE--To measure the prevalence and severity of urinary symptoms among men aged 55 and over in the British population. DESIGN--Cross sectional population survey using a postal questionnaire. SETTING--North West Thames health region. SUBJECTS--1480 men aged 55 years and over randomly selected from 8 general practices. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Self reported frequency and severity of urinary symptoms, their bothersomeness and previous prostate surgery. RESULTS--The response rate among eligible subjects was 78%. The prevalence of moderate and severe symptoms was 204 per 1000, rising from 160 per 1000 in the 55-59 age group to 259 per 1000 in the 70-74 age group and declining after the age of 80 to 119 per thousand in the 85+ age group. Twelve per cent of men reported previous prostate surgery, and the probability of having had surgery increases steadily with age. About a third of those undergoing surgery have recurrence or persistence of symptoms after surgery. Of men with moderate and severe symptoms, 27.9% reported that their symptoms were a medium or big problem, 36.9% reported that their symptoms interfered with their daily activities at least some of the time, and 43.1% were unhappy or 'felt terrible' about the prospect of a future with their current symptoms. CONCLUSION--The prevalence of urinary symptoms in men is lower than previously reported, although there is a substantial number of men who are bothered by, or who find their lives adversely effected by them.
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