Prostatitis is swelling and irritation (inflammation or infection) of the prostate gland. When prostatitis is caused by an infection with bacteria, it is called bacterial prostatitis.
For information on chronic prostatitis that is not caused by bacteria, see: Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis
Prostatitis is usually 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) are at increased risk for prostatitis. The prostate gland may become blocked, making it easier for bacteria to grow. Symptoms of chronic prostatitis can be very 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 usually begin more slowly. Some people have no symptoms between episodes of prostatitis.
Urinary symptoms include:
Other symptoms that may occur with this condition:
If prostatitis occurs with an infection in or around the testicles (epididymitis or orchitis), you may also have symptoms of that condition.
During a physical exam, your health care provider may find:
To examine your prostate, the health care provider will perform a digital rectal exam. During this exam, the provider will insert a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum.
The prostate may feel:
Your doctor may do a prostatic massage to see whether you have an infection:
Prostatitis may affect the results of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a blood test used to screen for prosate cancer.
Antibiotics are often used to treat prostate infections.
Often, the infection will not go away, even if you've been taking antibiotics for a long time. After you stop taking antibiotics, your symptoms may return.
If your swollen prostate gland makes it hard to empty your bladder, you may need a tube to empty it through your abdomen (suprapubic catheter), or from inside your body (indwelling catheter).
To care for prostatitis at home:
After you finish antibiotic treatment, get examined by your health care provider to make sure the infection is gone.
Acute prostatitis should clear up completely 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 are preventable.
You can prevent infections caused by STDs by practicing safe sex behaviors.
Chronic prostatitis - bacterial; Acute prostatitis
Nickel JC. Inflammatory conditions of the male genitourinary tract: prostatitis and related conditions, orchitis, and epididymitis. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 9.
Barry MJ, McNaughton-Collins M. Benign prostate disease and prostatitis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 130.
Updated by: Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Chief of Urology, Cambridge Health Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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