Prostatitis

What is Prostatitis?

Technically, the word prostatitis means inflammation or irritation of the prostate gland.  The most common cause of prostatitis is an actual, bacterial infection of the prostate gland.  In other cases, the prostate gland can become inflamed or irritated without an actual infection.  In these situations, it is often difficult to determine the cause.  Some men have problems with what we call chronic or recurrent prostatitis.  These men experience bouts or flare–ups of symptoms from time to time over a period of years or throughout their adult lives.

Who Gets Prostatitis?

Prostatitis is rare in children.  It is, however, fairly common in adults in their 20’s and beyond.

How Do I Know if I Have Prostatitis?

Prostate infections can be quite serious.  Men with prostate infections often experience painful urination, pain in the perineum (the area between the scrotum and the anus), painful ejaculation, fever, difficulty urinating, low back pain and cloudy, foul–smelling urine.  Occasionally a prostate infection will cause urinary retention requiring a temporary bladder catheter.  Men with chronic prostatitis or prostatitis not due to an actual infection also experience painful urination, painful ejaculation, restricted urination and pain in the pelvis.  Fever is rare with prostatitis that is not caused by an actual infection.

How is Prostatitis Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of prostatitis is usually made on the basis of symptoms.  If a prostate exam is performed, the prostate is usually quite tender, swollen and “boggy” or soft to the touch.  A urinalysis and urine culture can be helpful, however prostatitis often does not show up in the urine.  Sometimes, a prostate ultrasound study is necessary.

How is Prostatitis Treated?

Prostatitis due to an actual infection is treated with antibiotics.  It is not uncommon that an extended course of antibiotics (4 to 6 weeks) is required.  It can take a long time for all the symptoms of a prostate infection to go away.  Chronic prostatitis or prostatitis that is not due to an actual infection can be difficult to treat.  Anti-inflammatory medications are often helpful as are medicines that relax the muscles around the bladder and prostate.  Lifestyle changes such as attention to diet and exercise are commonly recommended.  Avoidance of prostate irritants such as alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, spicy foods, etc. is usually helpful.  Periods of stress can cause flare-ups of prostatitis.  Therefore, men often benefit from learning stress reduction techniques.  For some men biofeedback or acupuncture can be helpful.

We hope that this answers some of your questions about prostatitis.  Call Gallatin Urology (406–551–2306) for an appointment if you need more information or if you are having problems with prostatitis.