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What are the signs of prostate infection?

Bacteria can infect the prostate, and this can result in inflammation. The medical term for this is bacterial prostatitis. It can cause intense pain and changes in urination.

The prostate is the size of a walnut. It sits just under the bladder and produces a component in semen. The urethra, a tube connecting the bladder to the penis, passes through the prostate and carries urine.

Read on to learn more about the types, causes, and symptoms of a prostate infection.

Types of prostatitis

When the cause is an infection, there are two main types of prostatitis:

Acute bacterial prostatitis

Prostate infection
A person with prostatitis has inflammation of the prostate.

If a person has an acute, or short-term, prostate infection, symptoms are severe, and they develop suddenly.

Prostatitis is the term for inflammation of the prostate. Acute prostatitis is uncommon, and the cause is always an infection.

The infection requires immediate treatment, as the condition can cause serious complications.

Chronic bacterial prostatitis

Chronic, or long-term, bacterial prostatitis causes symptoms that tend to come and go over several months.

If an infection is responsible for the inflammation, the medical community calls this condition chronic bacterial prostatitis.

If there is a different cause, the condition is called either chronic prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome, and it affects 10–15 percent of males in the United States.


What are the causes?

Acute prostatitis results from a bacterial infection. Often, bacteria from the urine spread to the prostate gland.

If antibiotics do not kill the bacteria, prostatitis may recur and become chronic.

If a person does not have a bacterial infection, prostatitis can result from:

  • nerve damage in the lower urinary tract, following surgery or trauma
  • the immune system’s response to a previous urinary tract infection (UTI)

Risk factors

Some people are more likely to get prostate infections. Risk factors include:

  • being 50 years old or younger
  • using a catheter
  • having a current bladder infection or UTI
  • having a history of prostatitis episodes
  • having sustained injuries to the pelvis having undergone procedures involving the urethra or prostate
  • having HIV or AIDS


Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of bacterial prostatitis depend on whether it is acute or chronic.

Acute bacterial prostatitis

Symptoms appear suddenly and are severe. They can include:

  • urine with an unpleasant odor
  • blood in the urine or semen
  • body aches
  • burning pain while urinating
  • difficulty urinating
  • fever or chills
  • frequent urination
  • nausea
  • nocturia (urinating 2–3 times per night)
  • pain in the lower abdomen or lower back
  • vomiting

Acute bacterial prostatitis requires prompt medical attention.

Chronic bacterial prostatitis

These symptoms may be mild to moderate and either develop gradually or come and go over several months.

The medical community considers bacterial prostatitis to be chronic if symptoms are present for at least 3 months and include:

  • an urgent need to pass urine
  • bladder pain
  • burning pain during urination
  • difficulty passing urine
  • frequent urination
  • pain in the lower abdomen, back, or groin
  • pain in the testes or penis
  • painful ejaculation
  • a UTI


Diagnosis

Prostate infection blood test
A doctor may need to perform a blood test to diagnose the infection.

To diagnose a prostate infection, a doctor may:

  • take a medical history
  • inquire about symptoms
  • perform a physical examination, including a digital rectal exam
  • analyze a urine sample for signs of an infection

The doctor may also order one or more of the following:

  • blood tests, to check for signs of an infection or another problem
  • semen analysis, to look for signs of an infection
  • imaging tests, to check for blockages or other issues in the urinary tract or prostate
  • prostatic massage, which involves massaging the prostate and checking the discharge for abnormalities
  • a biopsy, which involves taking some tissue from the prostate and examining it under a microscope

These tests can confirm a diagnosis of prostatitis and rule out other conditions, such as cancer.

The results can also help to determine the best course of treatment.

Treatment options

Both medical and natural treatments can help people with prostatitis.

Medication

Medications for prostatitis include:

  • antibiotics
  • alpha-blockers
  • anti-inflammatory medications

To relieve pain and inflammation, some people take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These are available over-the-counter (OTC) or by prescription.


Surgery

Surgery may be necessary, though this is uncommon.

Surgeons can remove blockages or scar tissue from the bladder, which can improve the flow of urine and reduce symptoms of prostatitis.

Natural treatments

Prostate infection drinking water
While medical treatment is usually necessary, drinking water can help to flush out bacteria.

Home remedies can help to relieve symptoms, but they typically cannot eliminate bacteria from the prostate. Medical treatment is usually necessary.

Home remedies include:

  • drinking more water to help flush out bacteria
  • avoiding bladder irritants, such as alcohol, caffeine, and spicy food
  • soaking in a warm sitz bath
  • using a heating pad to alleviate pain
  • avoiding activities that irritate the prostate, including cycling, horseback riding, and anything involving prolonged periods of sitting
  • practicing Kegel exercises, to train the bladder

Some people find relief from the following alternative therapies:

  • acupuncture
  • biofeedback
  • herbal supplements, such as ryegrass and saw palmetto


Takeaway

Anyone with symptoms of a bacterial prostate infection should see a doctor immediately.

If a person does not receive treatment, the condition can cause complications, such as:

  • an abscess in the prostate
  • bacteremia (a bacterial infection of the blood)
  • chronic pain
  • epididymitis (inflammation at the back of the testes)
  • infertility
  • urinary problems

To avoid complications and ease symptoms, seek prompt medical attention and follow the doctor’s treatment plan.

A person may have to switch to a different antibiotic before seeing results. Also, in some cases, a chronic bacterial prostate infection may only clear completely after months of antibiotic treatment.

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