Prostatitis is swelling or infection of the prostate gland. The prostate gland sits just below a man's bladder and makes a component of semen. In young men, the prostate is about the size of a walnut. It typically grows larger as men grow older.
There are several types of prostatitis which vary based on how long a man has had the problem and what kind of symptoms he has.
Sometimes prostatitis is caused by bacteria, but often the cause is not known. Symptoms of long-term prostatitis are often mild and start slowly over weeks or months. They may include:
- An urge to urinate often but only passing small amounts.
- A burning pain when urinating.
- A problem starting the urine stream, urinating in waves rather than a steady stream, urine flow that is weaker than normal, and dribbling after urinating.
- Waking up frequently at night to urinate.
- A feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder.
- Pain in the lower back, in the area between the testicles and anus, in the lower belly or upper thighs, or above the pubic area. Pain may be worse during a bowel movement.
- Pain during or after ejaculation.
- Pain in the tip of the penis.
Symptoms of acute prostatitis are the same as long-term prostatitis, but they start suddenly and are severe. They may also include fever and chills.
Chronis prostatitis is difficult to treat because it is not always clear what is causing it. The primary goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms.
Treatment for acute prostatitis is aimed at curing the infection and preventing complications. Prostatitis caused by bacteria is treated with antibiotics and self-care. If it is not caused by bacteria, it usually gets better with home treatment, which includes drinking plenty of fluids and getting lots of rest. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers can also help.
A doctor may prescribe medicine to control pain and reduce swelling. They may also prescribe medicine to soften the stool and relax bladder muscles. Surgery is rarely used to treat prostatitis.
By Paul Schleitwiler, PA-C, ThedaCare Physicians-New London.