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Prostatitis: A Real Pain in the Assets

Prostatitis, a painful infection of the prostate gland, can affect men of all ages. While some cases are known to be caused by bacterial infections, an overwhelming number of prostatitis cases have no apparent cause. The different types of prostatitis vary in both severity and duration and may occur or recur sporadically and inconsistently throughout an individual’s life.

What is the Prostate?

The prostate is a small, walnut-shaped gland that is located under the bladder and above the rectum in men. Its job is to produce and secrete the seminal fluid in which sperm is delivered through ejaculation. The proximity of the prostate to the kidneys, bladder and rectum, as well as its connection to the urethra, increases exposure to bacteria such as E. coli and other potentially troublesome agents.

What are the Different Types of Prostatitis?

There are four distinct types of prostatitis, of which two are proven to be caused by bacterial infections, while the remaining and more common types are suspected to arise from a variety of causes.
1. Acute Bacterial Prostatitis
Acute bacterial prostatitis is mostly contracted by men under the age of 35 and can be fatal if left untreated. Bacteria such as E-coli and Klebsiella are primary sources of infection. Symptoms may include:
  • High fever and chills
  • Aches in muscles and joints
  • Painful and difficult urination
Acute bacterial prostatitis may also produce unnaturally high prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels. PSA levels are usually tested to detect the presence of prostate cancer, which also raises the PSA level in the blood.
Acute bacterial prostatitis must be treated immediately to prevent infection from entering the bloodstream. Strong fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as Levaquin and Cipro are often prescribed for a period of about 30 days in order to be certain that the infection is fully removed from the body.
2. Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis
Chronic bacterial prostatitis is a milder but extended version of bacterially induced prostatitis, occurring mostly in men over forty. It can last for several weeks or months, producing symptoms such as:
  • Painful urination and ejaculation
  • Frequent urination
  • Pain in the lower back or rectum
Chronic bacterial prostatitis can occur after a urinary tract infection (UTI) or after acute bacterial prostatitis.
3. Non-Bacterial Prostatitis
The prostate becomes inflamed, but no bacteria is found. Symptoms resemble those of chronic bacterial prostatitis.
4. Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CPPS)
CPPS, or prostatodynia, produces prostatitis symptoms without either bacterial infection or inflammation. CPPS is diagnosed after at least three months of recurring pain in areas such as:
  • Penis or scrotum
  • Area between scrotum and rectum
  • Lower abdomen or back
There may also be pain during urination or ejaculation, urinary incontinence, frequent urination or a weak urine stream.

What are Other Possible Causes of Prostatitis?

Bacterial infections can be easily diagnosed through a simple blood test to detect the presence of bacteria. However, although most incidences of prostatitis show the presence of bacteria, undetectable bacterial infections are still thought to be responsible for the initial onset of many cases. Other possible causes include:
  • Abnormalities in the urinary tract to which the prostate is connected
  • Physical trauma to the area
  • Inflammation
Some researchers believe prostatitis to be caused by an autoimmune disorder, similar to colitis or lupus, in which the immune system mistakes the prostate as a foreign body and attacks the prostate tissue, resulting in inflammation.
While the causes of non-bacterial prostatitis may not be able to be determined, relief from the discomfort and inflammation is available. A visit to a local urologist can provide a proper diagnosis and treatment program for prostatitis, as well as any incidental problems that might occur with inflammation of the prostate.

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