Medical Author: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FAAEM
Medical Editors: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
* What is the prostate gland?
* What is prostatitis?
* What are the types and symptoms of prostatitis?
* Acute bacterial prostatitis causes and symptoms
* Chronic bacterial prostatitis causes and symptoms
* Chronic prostatitis without infection causes and symptoms
* Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis causes and symptoms
* How is prostatitis diagnosed?
* What is the treatment for prostatitis?
* What is the prognosis for prostatitis?
* Patient Discussions: Prostatitis – Describe Your Experience
What is the prostate gland?
The prostate is a small organ located at the base of the bladder and wrapped around the urethra, the tube that empties the bladder through the penis. It sits in front of the rectum, and the back portion of the organ can be felt during rectal examination by a health care practitioner.
The prostate’s purpose is to help with the male reproductive system. It makes up to 70% of the fluid that is ejaculated during intercourse, mixing its secretions with the sperm that are made in the testicles. The prostate also contracts at the time of ejaculation to prevent retrograde (or backward) flow of semen into the bladder.
Because of its location, the symptoms of any prostate problem tend to be associated with the bladder and can include urgency to urinate, frequency of urination, burning with urination (dysuria), poor urine flow, or inability to begin a urine stream.
Acute bacterial prostatitis causes and symptoms
Acute bacterial prostatitis is an infection of the prostate that is often caused by some of the same bacteria that cause bladder infections. These include E. coli, Klebsiella, and Proteus. While it may be acquired as a sexually transmitted disease, the infection can also spread to the prostate through the blood stream, directly from an adjacent organ, or as a complication of prostate biopsy.
Patients with acute bacterial prostatitis present with signs of an infection and may have:
* chills, and
Commonly there is urgency and frequency of urination and dysuria (painful or difficult urination).
Chronic bacterial prostatitis causes and symptoms
Chronic bacterial prostatitis is an uncommon illness in which there is an ongoing bacterial infection in the prostate. Chronic bacterial prostatitis generally causes no symptoms, however, on occasion; the low grade infection may flare and be associated with a bladder infection.
Chronic prostatitis without infection causes and symptoms
Chronic prostatitis without infection, also known as chronic pelvic pain syndrome, is a condition where there is recurrent pelvic, testicle, or rectal pain without evidence of bladder infection. There may be difficulties with painful urination or ejaculation, and erectile dysfunction. The cause of chronic prostatitis without infection is not clearly understood.
Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis causes and symptoms
Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis is exactly as its name describes. There are no symptoms. The cause of asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis is not clearly understood.
How is prostatitis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of prostatitis relies on a careful history and physical examination by the health care practitioner.
The most important laboratory test is a urinalysis to help differentiate the types of prostatitis. The need for other blood tests or imaging studies like ultrasound, X-ray, and computerized tomography (CT) will depend upon the clinical situation and presentation.
Acute bacterial prostatitis diagnosis
After taking a history, the health care practitioner will likely have a directed physical examination concentrating on the scrotum, looking for inflammation of the testicle(s) or epididymis, and the flank and mid-back, where the kidney is located. If a rectal examination is performed, the prostate may be swollen and boggy, consistent with acute inflammation.
Laboratory testing may include urinalysis, looking for white blood cells and bacteria, signifying infection. The urine may also be cultured to identify the bacteria that are responsible for the infection, but results will take up to seven days to return. The results will help confirm that the antibiotic chosen is correct and may help choose an alternate antibiotic should the illness progress.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis diagnosis
The diagnosis is made by finding an abnormal urinalysis. Sometimes, a urinalysis is collected after prostate examination. This may allow some prostatic fluid to be expressed into the urine and cultured.
A blood test called PSA (prostate surface antigen) may be elevated in this type of prostatitis. While PSA is used as a prostate cancer screening tool, it can also be elevated whenever the prostate is inflamed.
Chronic prostatitis without infection diagnosis
To make the diagnosis of chronic prostatitis without infection, symptoms should be present for at least three months. The cause of chronic prostatitis without infection (chronic pelvic pain syndrome) is not known.
This is a frustrating condition for the patient and the health care practitioner since there is controversy as to the aggressiveness of testing, and exactly what tests should be done. Often, this is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that blood tests, urine tests, x-rays and ultrasounds tend to be normal, yet the patient continues to suffer.
Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis diagnosis
There are no symptoms with this type of prostatitis, however, when routine lab tests are performed, white blood cells (a sign of inflammation) are found in the urine, but there are no associated bacteria or infection.
What is the treatment for prostatitis?
Acute bacterial prostatitis treatment
Treatment for acute bacterial prostatitis is a prescription for antibiotics by mouth, usually ciprofloxacin (Cipro) or tetracycline (Achromycin). Home care includes drinking plenty of fluids, medications for pain control, and rest.
If the patient is acutely ill or has a compromised immune system (for example, is taking chemotherapy or other immune suppression drugs or has HIV/AIDS), hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics and care may be required.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis treatment
Chronic bacterial prostatitis treatment is with long-term antibiotics, up to eight weeks, with ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Cipro XR), sulfa drugs [for example, sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim, (Bactrim)], or erythromycin. Even with appropriate therapy, this type of prostatitis can recur. It is uncertain as to why, but it may be due to a poorly emptying bladder. A small amount of stagnant urine allows the potential for recurrent infection to occur. This situation can be caused by benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), bladder stones, or prostate stones.
Chronic prostatitis without infection treatment
Chronic prostatitis without infection treatment addresses chronic pain control and may include physical therapy and relaxation techniques as well as tricyclic antidepressant medications.
Other medication possibilities include alpha-adrenergic blockers. Tamsulosin (Flomax) and terazosin (Hytrin) are drugs that block the non-heart adrenaline receptors and are used in treating BPH and bladder outlet obstruction. Allowing better bladder emptying may help minimize symptoms.
Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis treatment
Treatment is not required for this type of prostatitis.
In patients undergoing infertility assessment, this inflammation may be treated with a course of either a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil) or antibiotics.
What is the prognosis for prostatitis?
* Acute bacterial prostatitis is curable with a short course of antibiotics.
* Chronic bacterial prostatitis is often recurrent even with appropriate therapy. Fortunately, the disease tends to be asymptomatic.
* Chronic pelvic pain syndrome will be challenging for the patient and the health care practitioner. Symptoms tend to linger and be difficult to control.
* Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis is not clinically significant and does not require treatment.