What is Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis?
Chronic bacterial prostatitis is a rare condition that causes recurring infections in the prostate and results in swelling, inflammation, and frequent urinary tract infections. The prostate is a small gland located directly below the bladder in men.
Even with treatment, bacteria may still survive in the prostate and symptoms often return. Prolonged use of antibiotics is often necessary to effectively treat this condition. (NKUDIC, 2012).
What Causes Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis?
Chronic bacterial prostatitis is caused by a bacterial infection. Even when the primary symptoms of infection have been treated, bacteria may continue to thrive in the prostate.
Causes of infection include:
- any bacteria that causes a urinary tract infection (UTI)
- sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea
- E. coli after having an infection of the testicles, urethritis (inflammation of the urethra), or a UTI. This is most common in men over the age of 35 (NIH, 2011).
Certain factors put men at risk for developing this condition, such as:
- an enlarged prostate
- an infection in or around the testicles
- urethral stricture (narrow urethra)
Signs and Symptoms
Bacterial infections in the prostate can be very painful. Symptoms begin slowly and last three months or longer. See your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- blood in the urine or semen
- pain or burning with urination
- pain with ejaculation
- pain with bowel movement
- pain in the low back, between the genitals and anus, above the pubic bone, and in the testicles
- foul-smelling urine
Serious complications can arise if an infection is not properly treated. Complications include:
- inability to urinate
- sepsis—bacteria spreads into the bloodstream
- prostate abscesses (collection of pus that causes inflammation)
How is Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis Diagnosed?
To make a diagnosis, your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical exam to look for swollen lymph nodes near the groin or fluid discharge from the urethra. Your doctor will also perform a rectal exam to examine the prostate. During this test, your doctor will insert a lubricated and gloved finger into your rectum to look for signs of infection, such as a soft or enlarged prostate. Other tests that may be performed include:
- testing fluid from the urethra for bacteria
- tests to rule out an STI
- urine test
How Are Bacterial Infections of the Prostate Treated?
Antibiotics are the main course of treatment for this condition. They are usually taken for four to six weeks. However, because the infection can return, you may need to take antibiotics for 12 weeks or longer. Your doctor will schedule a follow-up exam once you have completed treatment to ensure that the infection is completely gone.
It may take six months to a year for symptoms to go away completely. In the meantime, certain home remedies may be able to ease your symptoms. Home remedies include:
- warm baths
- drinking 64-128 oz. of water per day to help
- using stool softeners to avoid constipation
- avoiding alcohol, caffeine, citrus juices, and hot and spicy food
- medications to treat pain
Further treatment by your doctor may be necessary in the following rare cases:
- if you are unable to urinate, a catheter (tube) will be inserted to empty your bladder
- if you have an abscess, it may be drained
- if you develop sepsis, intensive antibiotic therapy and hospitalization
- if there are stones (mineral deposits) in your prostate, removal of the prostate gland (very rare)