Most men are familiar with prostate cancer and an enlarged prostate gland also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia. But a lesser known and less talked about problem that affects up to one in six men during sometime of their life is called prostatitis. This inflammation of the prostate gland–anything word ending in “itis” means inflammation–causes more than two million men to seek help from their doctor with this painful condition annually.
Symptoms of prostatitis
When the prostate gland becomes inflamed, a whole host of symptoms can result:
- Burning or painful urination
- Urgent need to urinate
- Trouble voiding
- Difficult or painful ejaculation
- Pain in the area between the scrotum and rectum known as the perineum
- Lower back pain
The symptoms are very similar and can occur at the same time to what many men experience with benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, even though the two conditions are not the same. Both BPH and prostate cancer predominately affect older men whereas prostatitis can affect men of all ages.
Types of Prostatitis
There are four types of prostatitis. Depending on a man’s symptoms, will help a doctor determine which type of prostatitis a man has which include:
- Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS)
- Chronic bacterial prostatitis
- Acute (sudden) bacterial prostatitis
- Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis
Causes of prostatitis
It is not completely understood what causes prostatitis but is usually caused by common strains of bacteria. One way an infection may start is when bacteria gets into the prostate when infected urine flows backwards from the urethra. Antibiotics are used to treat it but if the bacteria is not completely eliminated with antibiotics, then prostatitis may recur or be difficult to treat.
CP/CPPS may be caused by bacteria such as chlamydia, mycoplasma (which can be passed during sex), or ureaplasma. It is possible that prostatitis may occur if a man’s body reacts to an infection or injury that happened in the past.
Other possible causes of prostatitis include:
- Placement of a catheter ( a tube to drain fluid from the body) or another instrument recently placed in the urethra
- An abnormality found in the urinary tract
- A recent bladder infection
Diagnosis of Prostatitis
The best doctor to seek help from on diagnosing prostatitis is a urologist who specializes in treating problems of the urinary system and male reproductive system. Some of the test they may conduct to make a definitive diagnosis might include a digital rectal exam, a transrectal ultrasound, obtaining a fluid called expressed prostatic excretion (EPS) to check for signs of inflammation and infection, use of cystoscope to perform a cystoscopy, or a urine flow study to measure the strength of the urine flow and to check for blockages caused by the prostate, urethra, or pelvic muscles.
Depending on the type of prostatitis a man has will determine the course of treatment. Most types of prostatitis require a taking antibiotic which needs to be taken on schedule finishing the whole prescription.
Other treatment methods might include the following:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs, pain medications, muscle relaxants or plant extracts
- Hot baths, hot water bottles, or a heating pad can help ease pain
- Sitting on a donut pillow or inflatable cushion may help
- Avoiding irritating foods such as spicy or acidic foods, and caffeinated, fizzy or alcoholic drinks
- Bicycle riding may need to be avoided if it makes the pain worse
- In rare cases, surgery on either the urethra or prostate may be necessary
Dr. Samadi is a board-certified urologic oncologist trained in open and traditional and laparoscopic surgery and is an expert in robotic prostate surgery. He is chairman of urology, chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital and professor of urology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is a medical correspondent for the Fox News Channel’s Medical A-Team Learn more at roboticoncology.com. Visit Dr. Samadi’s blog at SamadiMD.com. Follow Dr. Samadi on Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest and Facebook.