Prostatitis can refer to an infection in the prostate or inflammation with no indication of an infection. Bacterial infections are responsible for 5% to 10% of cases.
Men of any age can develop prostatitis, though it doesn’t increase their risk of prostate cancer in the future.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), prostatitis is the cause of as much as 25% of all office visits made by young and middle-aged men with complaints that involve the urinary system and/ or genital region.
The number one reason men under the age of 50 visit a urologist is chronic prostatitis, meaning it is a recurring condition that lasts for more than 3 months.
Chronic prostatitis may be related to other urinary tract infections (UTI) or it may follow an episode of acute pancreatitis.
Frequent bladder infections are considered the primary symptom of chronic infectious prostatitis.
Types of Prostatitis
Acute Bacterial Prostatitis
Characterized by an inflammation of the prostate, this is a sudden bacterial infection and the least common type.
However, the symptoms tend to be very severe and may include:
- An acute UTI accompanied by an increase in urinary urgency and frequency, as well as pelvic/ genital pain.
- Fever, chills Nausea and vomiting
- Burning during urination
- If the condition is not treated promptly, it may lead to abscesses in the prostate, bladder infections, and in the worst cases, a complete inability to urinate.
- If the condition continues to go untreated, low blood pressure and confusion may result. There is also the potential for it to be fatal.
In most cases, the condition requires hospitalization for IV antibiotics, fluids, and pain medications.
Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis
- Typically occurs because of recurrent UTIs that have entered the prostate gland.
- May be present for several years before symptoms, similar to those that occur with acute bacterial prostatitis, occur. Symptoms tend to be less severe and vary in intensity.
- The condition is difficult to diagnosis because it can be hard to identify bacteria in the urine.
- Treatment includes 4 to 6 weeks of antibiotics and pain medicines as needed. In some cases, the patient may receive suppressive low-dose antibiotics over an extended period of time.
Chronic Non-bacterial Prostatitis/ Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome
- Accounts for 90% of cases, making it the most common form.
- Characterized by genital and urinary pain that is present for a minimum of three out of six months.
- No bacteria are found in the urine, though other symptoms of inflammation are present.
- Can be confused with interstitial cystitis, or a chronic inflammation of the bladder.
How Does the Prostate Become Infected?
It is not clear how the prostate becomes infected, although it is believed the bacteria responsible for prostatitis may enter the prostate from the urethra due to infected urine flowing backwards or through stool from the rectum.
In the past, it was believed that prostatitis was a sexually transmitted disease (STD), however research strongly suggests that only a minimal number of cases are contracted through sexual contact.
Certain medical procedures and conditions do increase the risk of developing prostatitis.
- Recently undergoing a medical procedure that requires the insertion of a medical instrument. For example, having a urinary catheter (a lubricated, pliable tube that drains urine from the bladder) inserted.
- A recent bladder infection
- Having an enlarged prostate
- Having an abnormal urinary tract
- Participating in rectal intercourse
In rare cases, having an autoimmune disease that causes the body to have an abnormal reaction to the prostate tissue may be the cause.