Prostatitis can be described as the inflammation of the prostate gland. The prostate gland is a walnut-sized gland located directly below the bladder in men. The prostate gland produces semen that feeds and transports sperm.
Prostatitis affects men of all ages but appears to be more common in men 50 or younger. The condition has a number of causes. Prostatitis caused by a bacterial infection can be treated with antibiotics.
Contrary to most assumptions, there’s no direct evidence that prostatitis can lead to prostate cancer.
Symptoms of Prostatitis
Symptoms of prostatitis depend on the cause. They can include:
- Difficulty urinating
- Painful ejaculation
- Cloudy urine
- Pain or burning sensation when urinating (dysuria)
- Blood in the urine
- Frequent urination, particularly at night (nocturia)
- Urgent need to urinate
- Pain in the abdomen, groin or lower back
- Flu-like signs and symptoms (with bacterial prostatitis)
- Pain in the area between the scrotum and rectum (perineum)
- Pain or discomfort of the penis or testicles
Causes of Prostatitis
Common strains of bacteria is always responsible for acute bacterial prostatitis. The infection can begin when bacteria in urine leak into your prostate. Antibiotics are used to treat the infection. Prostatitis might recur or be difficult to treat if the bacteria isn’t completely eliminated. Nerve damage in the lower urinary tract caused by surgery or trauma to the area, might contribute to prostatitis not caused by a bacterial infection. The cause of prostatitis isn’t mostly diagnosed in most cases.
Risk factors for prostatitis include:
- Having had prostatitis
- Having HIV/AIDS
- Having had a prostate biopsy
- Having an infection in the bladder or the tube that transports semen and urine to the penis (urethra)
- Being a young or middle-aged
- Using a tube inserted into the urethra to drain the bladder (urinary catheter)
- Having pelvic trauma, such as an injury from bicycling or horseback riding
Complications of prostatitis can include:
- Bacterial infection of the blood, a condition known as bacteremia
- Pus-filled cavity in the prostate (prostatic abscess)
- Semen abnormalities and infertility, which can occur with chronic prostatitis
- Inflammation of the coiled tube attached to the back of the testicle (epididymitis)
When to see a doctor
If you have pelvic pain, difficult or painful urination, or painful ejaculation, see your doctor. If left untreated, some types of prostatitis can cause worsening infection or other health problems.
To diagnose prostatitis, your doctor will rule out other conditions that may cause symptoms and determine the kind of prostatitis you have. After asking about your medical history, your doctor will do a physical exam, which will likely include a digital rectal examination.
Initial diagnostic tests might include:
- Urine tests:Your doctor might have a sample of your urine examined to look for signs of infection in your urine (urinalysis). Your doctor might also send a sample of your urine to a lab to check for any infection.
- Blood tests:Sample of your blood will be examined to check for signs of infection and other prostate problems.
- Post-prostatic massage:Your prostate may be massaged by your doctor to test the secretions.
- Imaging tests:Your doctor might order a CT scan of your urinary tract and prostate or a sonogram of your prostate.
There are four types of prostatitis. Your doctor might conclude that you have one of the following types based on your symptoms and tests:
- Acute bacterial prostatitis: This type of prostatitis generally begins suddenly and causes flu-like signs and symptoms, such as chills, fever, nausea and vomiting.
- Chronic bacterial prostatitis: You can develop recurring infections when antibiotics don’t eliminate the bacteria causing prostatitis. You might have no symptoms or only minor ones.
- Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome: This is the most common type of prostatitis. It isn’t caused by bacteria. Often an exact cause can’t be identified. For some men, symptoms stay about the same over time. For others, the symptoms go through cycles of being more and less severe.
- Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. This type of prostatitis doesn’t cause symptoms and is usually found only by chance when you’re undergoing tests for other conditions. It doesn’t require treatment.
Treatment of Prostatitis
Treatment for prostatitis depends on the underlying cause. They can include:
- This is the most commonly prescribed treatment for prostatitis. Your medication will be based on the type of bacteria that might be causing your infection. You might need intravenous (IV) antibiotics if you have severe infection. You may need to take oral antibiotics for four to six weeks but might need longer treatment for chronic or recurrent prostatitis.
- Anti-inflammatory agents like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) might help ease symptoms.
- Alpha blockers.These medications help relax the bladder neck and the muscle fibers where your prostate joins your bladder.
Sources: mayoclinic.org, practo.com
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