Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland, often resulting in swelling or pain. Prostatitis can result in four significant symptoms: pain, urination problems, sexual dysfunction, and general health problems, such as feeling tired and depressed.
The prostate is a reproductive gland located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It wraps around the urethra, a tube that carries urine from the bladder. The prostate produces most of a male’s semen.
To diagnose prostatitis, a physician will collect a patient’s urine and thoroughly exam his prostate gland. To check the prostate gland, a physician will carry out a digital rectal examination, which involves inserting a well lubricated gloved finger into the rectum to check for any abnormalities of the gland. The physician also may collect a sample of prostate fluid so that it can be analyzed.
Some physicians also may want to carry out a prostate specific antigen test to measure the amount of this chemical in a person’s blood. Both prostatitis and prostate cancer can increase a patient’s PSA level.
Estimates on the number of males in the United States who will experience prostatitis during their lifetimes range up to 50 percent. Many urologic disease experts feel that from 5 to 10 percent of males will be experiencing prostatitis at a particular time, making it one of the most common urologic diseases in the U.S.
Over the years, prostatitis has been subdivided into a number of categories, but today commonly accepted variations of the disease include nonbacterial, acute, and chronic.
By far, the most common type of prostatitis is nonbacterial prostatitis. Symptoms may include frequent urination and pain in the lower abdomen or lower back area. Causes may be stress and irregular sexual activity.
According to Dr. Leroy Nyberg, Jr., director of Urology Programs at the National Institutes of Health, treatments for nonbacterial prostatitis may include anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants, taking hot baths, drinking extra fluids, learning to relax when urinating, and ejaculating frequently. “Some physicians also may recommend some changes in a patient’s diet,” Dr. Nyberg said.
Acute bacterial prostatitis can be the result of bacteria, a virus, or a sexually transmitted disease. Symptoms may include fever and chills, low back pain, frequent and painful urination, weak stream when urinating, and infrequent urination.
Dr. Nyberg explained that these infections often are treated with antibiotics, bed rest, stool softener, and increased fluid intake.
Chronic prostatitis may be bacterial or the result of an inflammation of the prostate. Symptoms may include frequent bladder infections, frequent urination, and persistent pain in the lower abdomen or back.
This form of prostatitis often is treated with medications (often antibiotics), changes in the diet, biofeedback, and nonprescription supplements, according to Dr. Nyberg.
The Prostatitis Foundation sends in unmarked envelopes a free information packet and a newsletter with recent information to all that send their mailing address. The information packet contains some background information about prostatitis and sometimes articles they cannot get copyright permission to put on the website. www.prostatitis.org