What Is Chronic
Chronic prostatitis is an
inflammation of the prostate gland. The prostate is a small gland located below
a man’s bladder. It surrounds the urethra and produces most of the fluid in
Prostatitis may be caused by a
bacterial infection, but in many cases the cause of the condition is unknown.
It can produce uncomfortable symptoms like burning during urination, a frequent
need to urinate, and pain in the lower back.
When chronic prostatitis is
caused by a bacterial infection, it can be treated with antibiotics. When the
cause is unknown, treatment of the symptoms may be the best course of action.
Even when the condition can’t be cured, men who receive treatment for chronic
prostatitis are usually able to find relief from symptoms.
Types of Chronic
There are two different types
of chronic prostatitis, which differ by the cause of the condition.
Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis
Chronic bacterial prostatitis
is an inflammation of the prostate that’s caused by a bacterial infection. This
type of prostatitis can affect men of any age, but is seen more often in
younger and middle-aged men.
Chronic Prostatitis or Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome (CP or CPPS)
CP or CPPS produces similar
symptoms to the bacterial form of the condition, but its causes are unknown.
This is the most common type of prostatitis and can cause similar symptoms to
the bacterial form.
Recognizing the Symptoms of
The symptoms of both the
bacterial form of chronic prostatitis and CP or CPPS are very similar. They
usually start out mild and build in intensity over time. They may be
accompanied by fever or chills. Symptoms include:
- constant urge
- burning pain
starting urination, followed by an uneven flow
- feeling as if
the bladder is not fully emptied after urination
- pain in the
lower back, lower abdomen, above the pubic area, or between the testicles and
The Causes of Chronic
Chronic bacterial prostatitis
is caused by a bacterial infection. Bacteria get to the prostate through the
urethra. The urethra is the tube that channels urine out of the body.
The infection can also be
caused by an infection originating in the bladder, or by a contaminated catheter
inserted into the bladder. A urinary catheter is a small, flexible tube that is
placed in the body to collect and drain urine from the bladder.
Some bacterial infections
contribute to the formation of prostate stones that are not expelled during urination.
Prostate stones are about the size of a poppy seed and aren’t always detectable
in a physical examination. Infected prostate stones are a common cause of
recurring urinary tract infections, and make curing chronic bacterial
prostatitis very difficult.
The causes of CP or CPPS are
often unknown, but can depend on the individual case. Possible causes include:
- a blockage of
the flow of urine
from sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia
- an immune
system attack on the prostate
- uric acid, a
compound in urine, causing irritation in the prostate
functioning of nerves or muscles
Diagnosis of Chronic
To diagnose chronic
prostatitis, your doctor will begin with a survey of your symptoms. If your
symptoms indicate a type of chronic prostatitis, a digital rectal
examination may be needed. This involves the insertion of a gloved and
lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate. This can help your
doctor determine if the prostate is tender or enlarged. This examination may
cause temporary pain or discomfort in men with prostatitis.
If the exam doesn’t provide
any information, your doctor may need to perform an ultrasound, which
produces an image of the prostate. Once chronic prostatitis is diagnosed, your
doctor will want to do further tests to determine the type and the cause, if
A test of your
urine can diagnose chronic bacterial prostatitis. The presence of bacteria
is considered conclusive. If no bacteria are present in your urine, you still
may have CP or CPPS. Your doctor may then wish to perform further tests to look
for a cause, or may refer you to a doctor that specializes in diseases of the
urinary tract (urologist).
Further tests may include
examination of fluid excreted by the prostate, a blood test, or the insertion
of a small scope into the urethra for examination of the bladder, prostate, and
Treatments for Chronic
Treatment will depend on the
type of infection you are diagnosed with. For chronic bacterial prostatitis, a
long-term course of antibiotics is usually the first treatment. You may be
required to take antibiotics for up to 12 weeks. About 75 percent of chronic bacterial prostatitis cases clear up
with antibiotic treatment.
In most cases of CP or CPPS,
the cause of the condition is unknown. This means that treatment typically
involves using medications to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Muscle relaxers,
painkillers, and anti-anxiety medications are commonly prescribed for pain.
In some cases, prostatic
massage can help drain fluid that is causing the inflammation. Hot baths and
heat therapies like a heating pad can also help relieve discomfort. Your doctor
may recommend cutting certain spicy foods or acidic beverages from your diet,
as they can make symptoms worse.
Prevention of Chronic
Bacterial forms of chronic
prostatitis can be prevented with good hygiene. By keeping the penis clean, the
risk of bacteria entering the urethra is lower.
You can also prevent
prostatitis by drinking plenty of fluids to encourage regular urination, and by
treating urinary tract or bladder infections as soon as they arise.