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Prostatitis is the general name for an inflammation of the prostate gland, a walnut-sized organ located in front of the rectum and right below the bladder. The function of the prostate gland is to produce part of the seminal fluid, the solution that carries sperm.
More than one million patients visit their doctors every year for the treatment of prostatitis.
According to the National Institute for Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Disease, prostatitis may account for up to 25 percent of all office visits by young and middle-aged men with genitourinary complaints.
Prostatitis may be acute or chronic, and may not be inflammatory. Some types of prostatitis are caused by a bacterial infection, and others are not. How the prostate becomes infected is not clearly understood.
It is possible that infected urine may flow backward from the urethra into parts of the prostate gland. Rectal bacteria may also find their way into the prostate.
Certain conditions or medical procedures increase the risk of contracting prostatitis:
Prostatitis symptoms depend on the cause and may develop slowly or suddenly. Symptoms may include:
Men who experience symptoms that are sudden and severe, and include chills and fever, should seek medical help immediately.
The doctor will ask the patient about symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Diagnosis of prostatitis is usually based on the symptoms and digital rectal exam.
Tests may include:
Treatment for bacterial prostatitis is different from treatment for nonbacterial prostatitis, so it is very important to get the correct diagnosis. It is also important to make sure that the symptoms are not being caused by a different urologic condition.
The most common treatment for prostatitis are antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatory drugs. Other forms of treatment may include more aggressive surgical treatments if necessary.
For patient referral or consultations, contact the Department of Urology at 412-692-4100.