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What is Prostatitis?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Prostatitis is a condition that can affect any man, and in many cases, depending upon type there is treatment for the condition. The condition causes swelling of the prostate gland, not caused by benign or prostate cancer, and is often due to bacterial infection. Two types of the condition, Types 1 and 2, are called acute prostatitis and chronic bacterial prostatitis respectively. Two more types, 3 and 4, are called nonbacterial prostatitis and asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. These latter types are harder to treat, since cause may be difficult to identify.

In Types 1, 2, and 3, men may experience pain in the lower back and groin, and have difficulty urinating or a feeling of needing to frequently urinate. Since Type 1 and 2 are bacterial in nature, fever and chills may be noted, and general achiness or flu-like symptoms are usually present. Urine may have small amounts of blood.

Typically, Type 3 does not have fever, though symptoms in other respects may be identical in nature. All three types may cause pain when ejaculation occurs. Type 4 usually doesn’t have any symptoms, and may only be noted upon prostate examination, when the prostate is enlarged and this is not benign enlargement or cancerous enlargement of the prostate.

The main differences between acute and chronic bacterial prostatitis is that the acute form comes on very quickly and fever tends to be higher; men go from feeling fine to feeling very sick in a matter of a day or so. The acute form requires emergency treatment, so that infection does not spread to other parts of the body or to the bloodstream. The chronic bacterial type tends to emerge more slowly. Both forms respond to antibiotic treatment and often resolve after a couple weeks’ course of antibiotics. However, since swelling of the prostate can indicate other conditions, men frequently undergo a prostate exam after an antibiotic course is finished to be certain the prostate has lessened in size. Continuing symptoms may suggest additional problems.

The main diagnosis method is a rectal examination to check size of the prostate. If bacterial types of the condition are suspected, doctors may look at urine and/or prostate fluid to determine the type of bacteria involved. The condition can be misdiagnosed as bladder or kidney infection, so prostate examination is necessary to judge if the prostate is enlarged. In addition to antibiotic treatment, some men may be more comfortable taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, or prescribed pain medication. Trouble urinating may be helped with a variety of medications.

Type 3 prostatitis has no clear and defined treatment method. Ibuprofen and medications to ease urination may help, as can avoiding alcohol and caffeine. Exercising less may also improve the condition, since some men develop this condition as due to excess running or biking. Generally, there need be no concern regarding transmitting any type of this disease to others, since according to the Mayo Clinic, no type can be sexually transmitted. Some people find this data a little challenging and argue that bacterial types might cause bacterial infection in a sexual partner.

Even though Type 3 is not considered bacterial, some doctors prescribe antibiotics, and some men improve while taking them. This may be an option to consider. Some people turn to alternative or complementary medicine to treat Type 3, but there is no single treatment found to be universally effective.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By jeff1241 — On Apr 07, 2012

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish is anti-inflammatory while animal fats, coffee, alcohol and smoking are inflammatory foods so are best avoided. Adding saw palmetto and zinc are good supplements to help prostate health.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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