Acute Prostatitis - An Overview

Acute prostatitis is an infection of the prostate gland in young or middle age men. Just for review, the prostate gland is a chestnut sized glandular organ located in men at the entrance/exit of the bladder and situated so it surrounds the connection of the bladder opening and the urethra which is the tube that drains the urine to the outside through the inside of the penis. The acute infection is usually caused by bacteria such as E.Coli and Pseudomonas, which are also common infecting agents of other parts of the urinary tract such as the bladder and urethra.

This acute prostatic bacterial infection usually occurs in young and middle-aged males. Symptoms include pain in the genital/bladder area, fever (which may be high), as well as burning, pain and irritation when urinating. The bacteria that causes acute prostatitis usually gains access to the prostate by infected urine in the bladder through the urethra or urine tube. The infecting organisms migrate to the prostate where they cause swelling, and sometimes even impede the outflow of urine through the urethra. A rectal exam by the patient's physician will reveal a swollen, tender prostate, and examination of the urine confirms the presence of bacteria and associated white blood cells. A lab culture of the urine will reveal the exact type of bacteria that is causing the infection.

Treatment includes prompt administration of antibiotics, sometimes by intravenous fluids requiring brief hospitalization. If hospitalization is required, patients usually improve within 2-3 days and the antibiotics can then be administered by mouth with the patient at home. Prostatitis infections require a rather prolonged course of antibiotics to completely eradicate the bacteria, so it is necessary to continue the oral antibiotics for 4 to 6 weeks. Follow up urine analysis with cultures is necessary at the end of the antibiotic treatment to confirm that the prostatitis is completely cured and the bacteria has been eliminated.

With effective treatment as outlined above, the cure rate is very high and there are no long-term complications. Although acute prostatitis can occur again, there does not appear to be any tendency for the infection to become a chronic bacterial infection.

Men can reduce their chances of suffering from acute prostatitis by promptly seeking treatment for any symptoms suggestive of a bladder or urethral infections since bacteria from those sites are the ones most likely to spread to the prostate and cause the acute infection.