Prostatitis, also called prostate infection is one of prostate problems wherein the prostate and the surrounding area gets inflamed. Prostate gland sits right below the bladder. The urethra that carries urine (and seminal fluids) runs through the middle of the prostate gland till the tip of the penis. When the prostate gland is inflamed, the most common symptom is problem urinating. However, some men may not see any symptoms due to prostatitis.
Types of prostatitis
Prostatitis (prostate infection) is classified into 4 types:
Acute Bacterial Prostatitis
Acute bacterial prostatitis is type of infection that lasts for a very short period. In rare cases, if left untreated, this can be life threatening.
Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis
As the name suggests, this prostate infection is caused due to bacterial infection and this infection can be present for several weeks to years. Chronic bacterial prostatitis can cause frequent urinary tract infections.
Chronic Prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS)
Chronic prostatitis can last up to 3 months. It can cause pain and discomfort in the groin and the pelvic area. The actual cause of chronic prostatitis is not known. Previously it was called ‘Chronic Non-bacterial prostatitis’. It is a common type of prostate infection.
Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis
This is a case when the prostate is inflamed but it doesn’t show any symptoms. Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis is usually detected by the urologist or sexologist when examining the body (pelvis region) to diagnose or treat a different problem.
Causes of prostatitis
Causes of Acute or Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis
As the name suggests, the condition is caused due to bacteria.
- The source of bacterial infection could be the catheter that might have been used through the urethra while diagnosing any other medical problem.
- The bacteria could have originated in the bladder.
Causes of Chronic Prostatitis or Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome
The true cause of chronic prostatitis is not known. Medical experts suspect any of the following causes that may vary depending on the individual:
- Due to the blockage of flow or urine
- Sexually transmitted Infections such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhea
- Immune system attacking the prostate
- Irritation of the prostate due to the acids or other components present in the urine
- Nerve or muscle problems in the pelvic area.
Symptoms of Prostatitis
Problems with urination such as pain during urination, frequent urination, inability to empty the bladder are commonly seen symptoms when the prostate is inflamed. The inflamed prostate compresses the urethra that is passing through it. Other symptoms of prostatitis include:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Fever and Chills
- Pain in abdomen, lower back and pelvic region
Your urologist or sexologist will start with a set of questions including those related to your symptoms. He/she starts the diagnosis of prostatitis with DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) wherein a gloved and lubricated finger will be inserted into the rectum to feel the inflamed prostate. This may cause discomfort and a little pain during and briefly after the examination.
An MRI scan may be needed to see the organs in the pelvic region including the inflamed prostate. If your doctor suspects the presence of precancerous or cancerous cells in the prostate, a biopsy may be required. Urine test may be done to check for the presence of bacteria. Presence of bacteria in the urine may confirm bacterial prostatitis. In addition cystoscopy and blood test may also be done if other tests couldn’t give any conclusive report of the problem.
Treatment of chronic prostatitis
Treatment of chronic prostatitis depends on the type of infection. Generally, antibiotics will be given for a longer period to remove infection from the prostate and the body. In case of chronic prostatitis where the cause is not known, the symptoms will be treated with pain killers and anti-inflammatory medicines.
Prostatic massage can help remove the fluids that have caused the inflammation of prostate. Hot baths or heat pad may be used to relieve pain and discomfort to certain extent.