There are three types of prostatitis:
Acute infectious prostatitis is caused by bacteria and is treated with antimicrobial medication. Acute infectious prostatitis comes on suddenly, and its symptoms, including chills and fever, can be severe. Therefore, a visit to your doctor's office or the emergency room is essential and hospitalization is sometimes required.
Chronic infectious prostatitis is also caused by bacteria and requires antimicrobial medication. Unlike an acute prostate infection, the only symptoms of chronic infectious prostatitis may be recurring infectious cystitis.
Noninfectious prostatitis is not caused by bacteria - its cause is unknown. Antimicrobial medications are not effective for this type of prostatitis.
Despite their names, acute and chronic infectious prostatitis are not contagious and not considered to be sexually transmitted diseases. Your sexual partner cannot catch it from you.
The way in which the prostate becomes infected is not clearly understood. The bacteria that causes prostatitis may get into the prostate from the urethra by backward flow of infected urine into the prostate ducts or from rectal bacteria.
When urologists use the terms acute bacterial prostatitis and chronic bacterial prostatitis, they are usually talking about an infection caused by coliform bacteria. When coliform bacteria migrate from the intestinal tract problems can arise.
Certain conditions or medical procedures increase the risk of contracting prostatitis. You are at higher risk of getting prostatitis if you:
- Recently have had a medical instrument such as a urinary catheter inserted during a medical procedure
- Engage in rectal intercourse
- Have an abnormal urinary tract
- Have had a recent bladder infection
- Have an enlarged prostate
The symptoms of prostatitis depend on the type of disease you have. You may experience everything from no symptoms to symptoms so sudden and severe that they cause you to seek emergency medical care.
Symptoms, when present, can include fever, chills, urinary frequency, frequent urination at night, difficulty in urinating, burning or painful urination, perineal and low-back pain, joint or muscle pain, tender or swollen prostate, blood in the urine, or painful ejaculation.
Other conditions may mimic the symptoms of prostatitis - urethritis (an inflammation of the urethra), and prostatodynia (painful prostate). Patients with prostatodynia have pain in the pelvis or in the perineum.
Because the treatment is different for the three types of prostatitis, the correct diagnosis is very important. Noninfectious prostatitis will not clear up with antimicrobial treatment, and infectious prostatitis will not go away without such treatment.
If you have acute infectious prostatitis, you will usually need to take antimicrobial medication for 7 to 14 days. Almost all acute infections can be cured with this treatment. Analgesic drugs will relieve pain and discomfort and, at times, hospitalization may also be required.
If you have chronic infectious prostatitis. you will require antimicrobial medication for a longer period of time - usually 4 to 12 weeks. About 60 percent of all cases of chronic infectious prostatitis clear up with this treatment. For some cases that do not respond to long-term, low-dose antimicrobial therapy, surgical removal of the infected portions of the prostate may be advised.
If you have noninfectious prostatitis, you will not need antimicrobial medication. Depending on the symptoms, you may receive one of a variety of treatments. If your condition responds to muscle relaxation, you may be given an alpha blocker, a drug that can relax the muscle tissue in the prostate and reduce the difficulty in urination.
Tub baths or changes in diet may help to alleviate symptoms, although there is no scientific evidence that such "home remedies" are effective.