Prostatitis is swelling and irritation of the prostate gland. The condition is called bacterial prostatitis when it is caused by an infection with bacteria.
Ongoing irritation of the prostate that is not caused by bacteria is called chronic nonbacterial prostatitis.
Prostatitis is most often caused by a bacterial infection of the prostate gland. Any bacteria that can cause a urinary tract infection can cause acute bacterial prostatitis.
In men over age 35, E. coli and other common bacteria usually cause prostatitis. This type of prostatitis may occur after:
Acute prostatitis may also be caused by problems with the urethra or prostate, such as:
Men age 50 or older who have an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia) have a higher risk for prostatitis. The prostate gland may become blocked. This makes it easier for bacteria to grow. Symptoms of chronic prostatitis can be similar to symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland.
Symptoms of acute prostatitis can start quickly, and can include:
Symptoms of chronic prostatitis are similar, but not as severe. They often begin more slowly. Some people have no symptoms between episodes of prostatitis.
Urinary symptoms include:
Other symptoms that may occur with this condition:
During a physical exam, your health care provider may find:
The health care provider will perform a digital rectal exam to examine your prostate. During this exam, the provider inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum.
The exam may reveal that the prostate is:
Your doctor may do a prostatic massage to see whether you have an infection. To do this exam:
Prostatitis may affect the results of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a blood test used to screen for prostate cancer.
Antibiotics are often used to treat prostate infections.
Often, the infection will not go away even after taking antibiotics for a long time. Your symptoms may come back when you stop the medicine.
If your swollen prostate gland makes it hard to empty your bladder, you may need a tube to empty it. The tube may be inserted through your abdomen (suprapubic catheter) or from inside your body (indwelling catheter).
To care for prostatitis at home:
Get checked by your health care provider after you finish taking your antibiotic treatment to make sure the infection is gone.
Acute prostatitis should go away with medicine and minor changes to your diet and behavior.
Acute prostatitis may come back or turn into chronic prostatitis.
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of prostatitis.
Not all types of prostatitis can be prevented.
You can prevent STD infections with safe sex behaviors.
Chronic prostatitis - bacterial; Acute prostatitis
Nickel JC. In: Wein AJ, ed. Prostatitis and related conditions, orchitis, and epididymitis. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 11.
Barry MJ, McNaughton-Collins M. Benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 131.
Updated by: Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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