Prostatitis is an infection or inflammation of the prostate gland that causes pain, swelling, and urinary problems.
There are several types of prostatitis, and each type has slightly different symptoms and causes. The condition can be uncomfortable, but it is treatable with medications and lifestyle changes.
Untreated prostatitis can lead to serious infections and other health consequences. Fast treatment is important to prevent the inflammation from spreading to other areas of the body.
Causes of Prostatitis
Some types of prostatitis are caused by a bacterial infection. This typically happens when urine that contains bacteria leaks into the prostate. Acute bacterial prostatitis comes on very quickly, and symptoms are usually severe. Chronic bacterial prostatitis has a slower onset, and the symptoms may come and go.
When no bacterial infection is present, it’s harder to determine the cause of prostatitis. The condition can be caused by damage to the lower urinary nerve after trauma or surgery. However, for many people, the specific cause of prostatitis isn’t known.
Some people are at a greater risk of developing prostatitis than others. The condition most commonly affects people between the ages of 35 and 50. People who have had a urinary tract infection, a groin injury, or a prostate biopsy are all predisposed to prostatitis.
The most common signs and symptoms of prostatitis are urinary issues. You may experience pain or burning during urination, frequent urination, difficulty urinating, or a weak urine stream. Some types of prostatitis cause cloudy or bloody urine.
Other common symptoms include pain in the penis or testicles, abdominal or back pain, and painful ejaculation. Acute bacterial prostatitis can cause flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, and muscle aches.
Before beginning treatment, it’s important to try to identify the cause of the inflammation. You may undergo urine testing, blood work, or imaging tests to check for a bacterial infection or for damage to the prostate and the urinary system.
When prostatitis is caused by bacteria, antibiotics are the typical treatment. Most patients can be treated with oral antibiotics, but severe cases of prostatitis may require IV antibiotic treatment. Chronic prostatitis usually needs a longer course of antibiotics than acute prostatitis.
Doctors can also prescribe medication to alleviate symptoms. Alpha blockers can relax the muscles around the bladder and prostate, which makes urinating less painful. Anti-inflammatory medications can help with pain and discomfort. Many people find that sitz baths are an effective home treatment to relieve burning, soreness, and inflammation.
If the prostatitis isn’t caused by bacteria, it can be more difficult to treat with medications. Lifestyle changes and dietary modifications can reduce inflammation and ease the discomfort, though. For example, doctors recommend drinking lots of fluids, reducing caffeine intake, and avoiding spicy foods. Pelvic muscle relaxation exercises can help as well.
If you’ve had prostatitis before, you’re more likely to develop the infection again. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of the condition will help you recognize it early, so you can seek treatment before the symptoms take a toll on your quality of life.