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What is Prostatitis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

What is Prostatitis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

What is Prostatitis?

Prostatitis is a condition that causes swelling in a male patient’s prostate glands below the bladder (x). The prostate gland produces semen that nourishes and transports sperm. Although this condition occurs in men of all ages, it is more common in men younger than 50 (x). Prostatitis makes it difficult to urinate and it may cause other symptoms including pain in the pelvic area, the groin or the genitals. The pain may occur gradually or very suddenly. It may improve on its own or the patient may require medication. Prostatitis can cause complications with fertility and sexual dysfunction. Abscesses may develop on the gland and the patient may suffer from a bacterial infection in the blood.

Symptoms of Prostatitis

There are different forms of prostatitis with distinct symptoms and causes. Specifically, there are four different types: chronic prostatitis, chronic bacterial, acute bacterial and asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis (x).

Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CP/CPPS)

This is the most common type of prostatitis, representing more than 90 percent of cases (x). However, chronic prostatitis is not a result of a bacterial infection. There are two types: inflammatory and noninflammatory. In the former, the patient has white blood cells in the urine, prostate secretions and semen. But it does not cause any obvious signs of infection. In the latter, the patient does not have white blood cells in secretions and they do not show signs of infection (x).

It can cause chronic pain in the lower abdomen, scrotum, penis or perineum. Symptoms include painful urination and painful ejaculation. The patient also has a frequent urge to urinate and inability to hold it, but the urine stream is weak (x).

Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis

This type is not very common. It develops from a bacterial infection (x). It can develop from acute bacterial prostatitis or a urinary tract infection (UTI). The symptoms last for a long period of time and they may come and go (x). Symptoms include lower back pain, pain in the rectum, painful urination and pain after ejaculation. The patient also has an urgent need to urinate, especially at night and the urine may be stained with blood. The urine stream is weak or difficult because of blockage.

Acute Bacterial Prostatitis

Also uncommon, acute bacterial prostatitis develops very suddenly from an infection that spreads from the bladder, kidneys or urinary tract to the prostate glands. It causes fever, chills, difficult and painful urination, cloudy urine and pain on the base of the penis or behind the scrotum (x).

Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis

Unlike other types, men with asymptomatic prostatitis have inflammation in the prostate gland, but do not show any symptoms. There are white blood cells, but usually the patient discovers them during a medical examination for a separate condition, such as sexual dysfunction (x).

Complications from Prostatitis

There are several complications associated with prostatitis including sexual dysfunction or infertility and inflammation in the reproductive organs. It may also cause abscesses in the prostate glands or a bacterial infection in the blood (x).

Symptoms of Prostatitis

Causes of Prostatitis

Researchers have not determined a specific cause for most cases of prostatitis. Typically, there is inflammation in the body that affects the pelvic region and causes pain. In other cases, it may develop from a bacterial infection, but this is less common. Bacteria from the urinary tract—which includes the kidneys, ureters and urethra—may enter the prostate if infected urine flows backwards through the urethra (x).

Risk Factors for Prostatitis

There are several risk factors that increase the likelihood of contracting acute prostatitis, including (x):

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STI)
  • Urinary catheters
  • Pelvic injury
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Prostate biopsies
  • Problems with the urinary tract
  • Anal sex

On the other hand, different risk factors may increase the likelihood of chronic prostatitis. It usually occurs in middle-aged patients between 30 and 50 and patients with other abdominal conditions including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If a patient has had prostatitis in the past, it increases the risk of developing it again. Patients who have also suffered from sexual abuse may be at a greater risk (x).

Diagnosing Prostatitis

Diagnosis usually requires a physical exam and medical tests. The tests often aim to rule out other health conditions with similar symptoms. The doctor will also ask about the patient’s medical history or family history to determine if they have any risk factors for prostatitis (x).

Physical Exam

The doctor will examine the patient to check for urethral discharge, inflammation or swelling in the lymph nodes in the groin and inflammation in the scrotum (x). Typically, the doctor performs a rectal exam. The patient bends over a table or lies down on their side with the knees pulled close to the chest. Then the doctor examines part of the prostate through the rectum. Doctors perform this test to determine if the prostate is enlarged, tender or has any other abnormalities that may require additional tests.

Additional Diagnostic Tests

Doctors may perform additional tests to confirm the diagnosis, including blood tests, urinalysis and cystoscopy. The doctor may also perform a biopsy, semen analysis, ultrasound and urodynamic tests (x).

Blood Test

Usually patients undergo a blood test first to detect problems with the prostate gland. The doctors can measure levels of a protein that only exists in the prostate gland, prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Physicians also perform this test to rule out prostate cancer (x).

Urinalysis

In a urinalysis, doctor tests a urine sample for signs of infection. The patient may need to provide two or three samples and the doctor will massage the prostate in between urination streams. If there are only signs of infection in the first sample, the infection is probably in the urethra. But if there are signs of infection in the second or third sample, the infection is most likely in the prostate (x).

Urodynamic Tests

Urodynamic tests are a series of procedures that determine how effectively the bladder and urethra store and release urine. If it does not hold urine effectively or release it steadily and completely, it may be a sign of infection (x). The test may measure bladder pressure and how fast the bladder releases urine. Another test may measure how much urine remains in the bladder after urination (x).

Cystoscopy

In this medical exam, doctors use a device called a cystoscope to check the inside of the urethra and the bladder. The doctor inserts the device into the urinary tract through the opening of the penis (x).

Abdominal & Transrectal Ultrasound

In an ultrasound, a physician uses a transducer to create an image of different organ structures. An abdominal ultrasound creates the image over the abdomen, but for a transrectal ultrasound, the doctor inserts the device into the rectum next to the prostate. The procedure helps check for signs of abnormalities and infection in the prostate glands (x).

Biopsy

For a biopsy, the doctor takes small tissue samples of the prostate glands for examination in a lab. The urologist uses imaging technologies to insert the biopsy needle into the prostate gland (x).

Semen Analysis

As the name suggests, this procedure measures the amount and quality of semen and sperm. The physician gives a patient a container and asks him to collect a semen sample. The doctor takes it to a lab to inspect it for blood or signs of infection (x).

Treatment for Prostatitis

Patients receive treatment depending on the type of prostatitis. For chronic prostatitis, treatment is designed to relieve pain and inflammation with medication, such as muscle relaxants or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Antibiotics can help treat acute and chronic bacterial prostatitis. An acute case may require antibiotics for six to eight weeks, but chronic cases typically require longer courses (x).

Alternative Remedies for Prostatitis

Patients with chronic prostatitis may benefit from alternative remedies combined with traditional medical treatment. Taking a warm bath or applying heat therapy with a heating pad or a hot water bottle may help ease discomfort. Physical therapy may be useful as well, including kegel exercises or myofascial release. Some patients may also find relief through relaxation exercises, phytotherapy or acupuncture (x). Patients should use alternative remedies with a doctor’s permission in conjunction with the medical treatment that the physician advises.

Supplements for Prostate Health

Dietary supplements may also help reduce symptoms of prostatitis. They can also help benefit overall health, including prostate health. However, they are not designed to cure any medical condition. But with other forms of treatment, they may be able to keep the body healthy to fight infection.

See Also

Quercetin

Quercetin is a natural plant compound in blueberries, red wine and kale. It is a flavonoid, which is a component in fruits and vegetables that gives them their color. They also help protect the plants from threats and when humans eat them, they receive the same benefits. Quercetin is known for its antioxidant properties that can prevent free radical damage from poor quality food, pollution and possibly even heart disease. According to studies, this compound may even help relieve pain from prostatitis and improve patients’ quality of life (x).

The suggested dosage for quercetin dihydrate powder is between 250 and 500 mg once or twice a day. This drug interacts with other supplements, especially vitamin C supplements. This product is safe for consumption, but side effects may include headache, upset stomach and sores in the mouth.

Physicians do not recommend this supplement for patients with high blood pressure or those who have problems with blood clots. Also, patients who take antibiotic medications or receive hormone replacement therapy should discuss supplementation with a physician. Avoid using quercetin during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Berberine

Berberine is an alkaloid present in different plants that people have used as a traditional form of medicine for hundreds of years. It may be effective for diabetes and high cholesterol, as well as bacterial infections. As a dietary supplement, take 500 mg of berberine HCL powder twice a day for no more than three months unless a doctor approves it. This product may lower blood pressure, so patients with diabetes or similar conditions should make sure to consult a doctor before taking it. Berberine supplements are not safe for young children, pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Curcumin

Curcumin is a component of turmeric, which is a type of ginger. Apart from its role in cooking, it also has a history of aiding illnesses. Research states that it has anti-inflammatory properties to help enhance liver health and avoid liver-related illnesses (x). It may also help reduce the risk of cancer by interfering with a specific type of protein synthesis (x). It also releases antioxidants that can protect the body from damage and neutralize free radicals.

The healthy dosage for curcumin 95% natural turmeric extract powder is no more than 1,000 mg per day, with a doctor’s permission. Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a doctor before taking this supplement. It may not be safe for those who are allergic to ginger, taking medication or have high blood pressure. Seek advice from a medical professional.

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto plants grow in Florida and southern California. Indigenous groups use the plant therapeutically to treat urinary tract problems, cough and male infertility. It may be a natural treatment option for an enlarged prostate and reduce symptoms. It slows down the process in which testosterone converts to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and reduces inflammation. Saw palmetto may be an effective tool to support men’s overall health. The recommended serving size for saw palmetto extract is 500 mg per day, or following a physician’s instructions.

Saw palmetto is not recommended for patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding. In addition, it may not be safe for patients with liver or pancreas diseases or those who use blood thinners. Stop using this product if it causes vomiting, nausea, headaches, constipation or dizziness. Consult a doctor before using the product to ensure safety.

Bee Pollen

Bee pollen is rich in vitamins, proteins, amino acids and minerals. It contains essential amino acids like tryptophan, lysine and leucine. It has beta-carotene, biotin and folic acid. Some of its minerals include calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. It also has essential fatty acids, flavonoids and phenolic compounds. Bee pollen may be an effective antioxidant to reduce inflammation and help fight bacterial and fungal infections, including pneumonia and candida. Researchers think it may even help reduce the risk of cancer.

As a dietary supplement, the recommended dosage for bee pollen powder is 1,000 mg up to three times per day with food. Patients with an allergy to bee pollen should avoid this product. Seek immediate medical attention if it causes swelling and shortness of breath. It may not be safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding and it may cause bleeding in combination with blood thinners.

Oregano

Oregano is a plant that grows in dry, warm climates, such as the Mediterranean region. The Greek oregano plant is one type of Mediterranean oregano and it has several different therapeutic purposes. It contains carvacrol, which is a natural phenol that fights fungal inflammation and urinary tract infections, which may be useful for patients with prostatitis. It also protects the body from bacteria and increase white blood cell protection for immune defense. Oregano may also be an effective pain reliever. As a dietary supplement, take 500 mg of oregano extract powder one to three times per day, after consulting a physician. It may cause an upset stomach or an allergic reaction as a topical. Patients with allergies to related plants—basil, lavender, sage, mint, etc.—should not take it. It is also not safe for pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Bottom Line

Prostatitis is a condition that causes swelling in the prostate glands. It causes symptoms such as urgent and painful urination, weak urine stream and painful ejaculation. There are four different types of prostatitis—chronic, acute bacterial, chronic bacterial and asymptomatic inflammatory. Each form has a different cause and different method for treatment. Patients may require antibiotics to get rid of the infection and alternative remedies may also help, such as applying heat and physical therapy. Supplements may also help with prostate health and reduce inflammation. However, supplements are not a cure for any medical condition and patients should not take supplements without permission from a doctor.

 
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