If you have been diagnosed with prostatitis, you may confused as to what exactly that means.
It is common for men to hear the term “prostate issues” and immediately think of cancer; however, the prostate can develop a number of issues as you age, and not all of them are cancerous.
This article is designed to be used as a reference to learn more about your prostatitis and the treatment options available to you. If you experience any of the symptoms below and have not visited your physician, seek medical attention immediately, as prostatitis can cause serious incontinence problems if left untreated.
What causes Prostatitis?
Prostatitis is caused by an inflammation of the prostate gland and, occasionally, the area around the gland.
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized gland located beneath the bladder and just in front of the rectum, This gland surrounds the urethra, which is the tube responsible for carrying urine from the bladder. ¹
As men age, the prostate gland swells and causes urinary problems.
There are four types of prostatitis:
- Chronic bacterial prostatitis is a type of prostatic inflammation that is typically accompanied by recurring urinary tract infections, or UTIs. Chronic bacterial prostatitis can affect men of any age, but tends to be more prevalent in young to middle-aged men.
- The rarest type of prostatitis is called acute bacterial prostatitis. While this is the least common type of inflammation, it is also the most easily recognized. This type of inflammation is typically caused by a sudden bacterial infection, and is accompanied by a severe UTI. If you experience painful urination and abdominal, pelvic, or lower back pain with a fever and the chills, seek medical attention immediately.
- Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis has no symptoms. Typically this type of prostatitis is diagnosed after a biopsy or urine sample uncovers inflammation.
- Chronic prostatitis, or nonbacterial prostatitis, is the most common prostatitis classification. While its causes are unknown, contributing factors include: chronic infection, pelvic spasms or inflammation. ²
Is it cancer?
While inflammation of the prostate can be cause for alarm, prostatitis is not cancer and typically does not cause cancer.
Prostate cancer is caused by an uncontrollable division and growth or prostate tissue cells. Prostatitis is characterized by the growth of the prostate, but it does not form a tumor and can be treated without surgery in most instances.
Prostatitis does elevate PSA levels in men, but does not increase their likelihood for developing prostate cancer. ³
Who is at risk for developing prostatitis?
Prostatitis can affect men of any age, but is most common in men ages 35-50 years old. During this time, testosterone levels are at their peak.
Testosterone, sometimes referred to as androgen, is what causes the prostate to grow. Strangely enough, androgen also inhibits cell death, which is a normal part of the cell growth cycle.
So testosterone can contribute to prostatitis in two ways: by causing the prostate to grow and inhibiting cell death. This leads to the swelling and increase in the size of the prostate gland. ⁴
Additionally, the older you get, the harder it is for your body to respond to infections. An infection can cause the prostate to swell, as can certain medications taken for impotence or erectile problems.
Symptoms of Prostatitis
The symptoms of prostatitis range from no symptoms to extremely painful symptoms. If any of the below symptoms come on suddenly or cause you considerable pain, seek medical attention immediately.
These symptoms include:
- urination accompanied by pain or burning
- blood in the urine
- painful ejaculation or bowel movements
- difficulty urinating
- an increase in the urgency and frequency of urination
- lower back pain
- pain in the urethra or penis. ⁵
These symptoms are sometimes accompanied by elevated prostate specific antigen levels in the bloodstream. If your PSA levels are elevated, your doctor will recommend a full prostate cancer screening, including a digital rectal exam and a biopsy to rule out the possibility of prostate cancer.
In men who experience no symptoms, prostatitis is diagnosed through urine samples, semen samples, or a screening to rule out sexually transmitted diseases. A prostate culture, in which your doctor massages the gland to release fluid from the urethra, may also be used to diagnose prostatitis. ⁶
The good news is that prostatitis can be treated relatively easily without surgery. Treatments vary depending on the type of prostatitis and the symptoms it causes.
For acute bacterial prostatitis, you will be given an antibiotic to take for two weeks until the infection clears up. You may also be admitted to the hospital to be given an IV antibiotic to treat the symptoms. Occasionally, antibiotics may need to be taken for up to one month after the diagnosis. ⁷
Chronic bacterial prostatitis is treated in much the same way as acute bacterial prostatitis: through antibiotics to kill the bacteria. However, because this is typically a recurring infection, the antibiotic regimen will be prescribed for four to seven weeks or longer, depending on the severity of symptoms.
Medications such as alpha blockers, may be prescribed to relax the neck of the bladder and make it easier to urinate. Certain lifestyle changes, such as avoiding alcohol, acidic drinks or caffeine can alleviate symptoms of prostatitis.
In extreme cases of chronic prostatitis, a radical prostatectomy may be needed to completely remove the gland in order to restore urinary functions and fix incontinence issues. ⁸
If you have been diagnosed with prostatitis, you have several treatment options available to you.
Being proactive about your urological health and knowing the causes of prostatitis may help prevent it or alleviate symptoms.
You should always speak to your doctor before beginning any type of treatment plan, making sure to follow his or her recommendations.
You don’t have to live with pain caused by prostatitis. Talk to your doctor today about your treatment options.
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC). (2014, July 9). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/men/guide/prostate-problems
- Prostate Problems — BPH, Prostatitis, Prostate Cancer — Symptoms and Treatments. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/men/guide/prostate-problems
- Prostatitis. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prostatitis/basics/definition/con-20020916
- Prostatitis Foundation Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.prostatitis.org/
- Prostatitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Tests, and Treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/men/guide/prostatitis?page=2#2
- Roddick, J. (n.d.). Chronic Nonbacterial Prostatitis. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/prostatitis-nonbacterial-chronic#Diagnosis4
- Urology Care Foundation The Official Foundation of the American Urological Association. (2013, January 1). Retrieved from http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=15
- Why the prostate grows with age. (2009, May 17). Retrieved from http://www.clinicaladvisor.com/why-the-prostate-grows-with-age/article/136874/