Prostatitis is a common condition that affects millions of men. The condition is defined as inflammation of the prostate gland. This small gland sits just below the bladder and is responsible for producing semen. In some cases, men develop prostatitis without symptoms but this isn’t always the case. Prostatitis may gradually progress or come on suddenly, causing symptoms such as:
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Urgent need to urinate
- Frequent urination, including having to get up at night to urinate
- Cloudy or discolored urine (indicative of blood)
- Painful ejaculation
- Pain in the groin, lower back, or abdomen
- Pain in the testicles or penis
What Causes Prostatitis?
Prostatitis may occur at any age, although it seems to be less common among men over age 50. Inflammation may result from infection. Infection may develop if bacteria in urine leak into the prostate. Another way that prostatitis may develop is through nerve damage. The nerves in the lower urinary tract may be damaged by trauma or surgery. Trauma could be caused by something as simple as lifting heavy objects with a full bladder or repeatedly using a tool that vibrates, like a jackhammer.
Depending on its cause, prostatitis may come on suddenly or occur gradually. The condition may also improve quickly without treatment or persist for many months. Some men get recurring inflammation of the prostate, referred to as chronic prostatitis.
It is important to seek medical care for prostatitis symptoms. Without adequate treatment, inflammation of the prostate could lead to complications such as:
- Bacteremia, a bacterial infection of the blood
- Epididymitis, inflammation of the tube at the back of the testicle
- Prostatic abscess, a pus-filled cyst in the prostate
- Fertility problems caused by semen abnormalities
Prostatitis is not linked to prostate cancer.
A urologist may perform various tests to reach an accurate diagnosis of prostatitis before recommending treatment. Common options include:
- Lifestyle remedies such as limiting alcohol and caffeine and drinking a lot of water to flush bacteria from the bladder.
- Anti-inflammatory medication to reduce discomfort.
- Muscle relaxant medication may be prescribed if muscle spasms are involved.
- Antibiotics may be prescribed if bacterial prostatitis is diagnosed. Depending on the severity of the condition, a patient may be given IV antibiotic treatment.
- Alpha-blockers are sometimes prescribed to relax the muscle between the prostate and the bladder.