What Is Prostatitis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

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Acute vs. Chronic

Acute prostatitis is swelling and irritation of the prostate gland that develops rapidly .  It can be either inflammation or infection.  Chronic prostatitis develops slowly and continues for a long period of time.  It is often a bacterial infection. For more information see An Overview of Acute Prostatitis and Chronic Prostatitis: An Overview.

Symptoms – Acute Prostatitis

The symptoms of acute prostatitis include great discomfort, including abdominal pain, burning with urination, fever or chills, inability to empty the bladder, low back pain, and painful ejaculation.  A patient could also find blood in the semen or urine, difficulty urinating, increased frequency of urination, or testicle pain. For more information, see Symptoms of Prostatitis.

Symptoms – Chronic Prostatitis

The symptoms of chronic prostatitis are similar to those of the acute version: blood in the urine, decreased urinary stream, frequent urination, incontinence, fever and pain or burning with urination.  Lower back pain, testicular and ejaculation pain could also be present.  That said, there may be no symptoms at all. For more information, see Chronic Prostatitis Symptoms.

Causes – Acute Prostatitis

Acute prostatitis is often caused by a bacterial infection to the prostate gland, caused by the same bacteria that can cause a urinary tract infection.  Some STDs can cause acute prostatitis, including Chlamydia and gonorrhea; additionally, E. coli could cause acute prostatitis in men over the age of 35.  Men over the age of 50 with an enlarged prostate are at a high risk for prostatitis. For more information, see Causes, Incidence and Risk Factors.

Causes – Chronic Prostatitis

Chronic prostatitis is usually caused by a chronic bacterial infection in the prostate gland.  It can occur with acute prostatitis, urinary tract infection (often recurrent) or urethritis.  It can be caused by certain sexual practices, excessive alcohol intake or an injury to the area between the scrotum and anus (perineum).  Chronic prostatitis often occurs in men over the age of 30. For more information, see Causes, Incidence and Risk Factors.

Treatment – Acute Prostatitis

Acute prostatitis can be treated with a 4-week course of antibiotics, a shot of ceftriaxone followed by antibiotics or a hospital stay with intravenous antibiotics (for severe cases).  To avoid relapse, courses of antibiotics last several weeks.  Patients should also avoid bladder irritants, including alcohol, caffeine and spicy food and increase fluid intake to help flush bacteria from the bladder. For more information, see Prostatitis Treatment.

Treatment – Chronic Prostatitis

The treatment for acute prostatitis is antibiotics.  In cases of chronic prostatitis, patients require a longer course of antibiotics, lasting from 6 to 12 weeks.  NSAIDs can also be used to decrease the pain of the infection.  Surgery may be required – a transurethral resection of the prostate – if antibiotics are unsuccessful in treating the infection. Patients should avoid bladder irritants. For more information, see Chronic Prostatitis: Treatment.

Conditions with Similar Symptoms

What if it isn't prostatitis, despite symptoms?  See your doctor immediately.  Problems with the prostate gland should not be taken lightly. For more information, see Prostate Cancer: Similar Symptoms.