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What is Prostatitis?

Prostatitis is a generic term used to describe infection or inflammation of the prostate, a walnut size gland that sits beneath the bladder and envelopes the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis.

Prostatitis is categorised into two types: Chronic prostatitis or acute prostatitis. Chronic prostatitis is where symptoms have lasted at least 3 months or where symptoms recur -occur over an extended period of time. There isn’t always a clear cause for this type of prostatitis and the symptom severity can vary. Some chronic prostatitis is bacterial in nature so can be treated with antibiotics although, due to the long term recurrence of this condition, this type of infection is not fully understood.

Acute prostatitis is caused by an infection of the prostate and can be much more serious than chronic prostatitis with the possibility of damage to the prostate if symptoms aren’t treated quickly with antibiotics. Symptoms can develop much more quickly and be more severe than chronic prostatitis.

Prostatitis Symptoms

Prostatitis symptoms can be very similar to prostate cancer symptoms so it is essential that they are checked as early detection of prostate cancer saves lives.

Prostatitis symptoms can include:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Back pain, pelvis pain or pain in the genitals or buttocks
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Pain when ejaculating
  • A high temperature

If you experience prostatitis symptoms you are advised to see your GP immediately.

Causes of Prostatitis

Chronic prostatitis can be bacterial in nature but is more likely to be caused by other issues including a blockage or partial blockage to urine flow or problems with the immune system. Acute prostatitis is the result of bacteria infecting the prostate gland. Doctors aren’t clear how this occurs but it is thought bacteria may spread from the urinary tract or bowel.

Diagnosis of Prostatitis

Acute prostatitis can be diagnosed relatively simply with a urine test to check for bacteria and a rectal exam where the doctor will check if the prostate is inflamed.

Chronic prostatitis requires more intensive diagnostic procedures including checks that will rule out prostate cancer. This may include a blood test, urine test (to test for bacteria) and rectal examination. Further examination of the bladder and bowel may be required using a camera. To examine the bladder doctors may use a cytoscope which is inserted into the urethra and up into the bladder so that they can see the inside of the bladder. Your bowel may also be examined using a colonoscope which is inserted into the anus (bottom) and allows the doctors to see inside the bowel. An ultrasound examination may also be required to examine the abdomen and prostate.

Prostatitis Treatment

Treatment for acute prostatitis usually just involves a four week course of antibiotics and possibly some pain killers such as codeine if the pain is really severe.

If chronic prostatitis is found to be bacterial in nature then antibiotics will also be used to treat this condition. Alpha blockers can also be prescribed to ease urination as these are a muscle relaxant.

If chronic prostatitis is not bacterial then alpha blockers will normally be prescribed along with pain killers if required. Other medications may also be prescribed including finasteride which is commonly used to treat an enlarged prostate and mepartricin which is often used to treat fungal infections.

Worried about Prostatitis or other prostate problems?

If you are worried you may have prostatitis or have other symptoms that may be prostate related please contact your doctor. If you are worried about prostate cancer or want to know the symptoms of prostate cancer then please read more about this and other conditions such as enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia) on this site. Our aim is to provide you with as much information as possible about prostate related diseases.

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