Prostatitis is a health condition involving inflammation of the prostate gland, which becomes red and swollen. It is relatively common and believed to affect up to 15% of men at some stage throughout their lifetime, usually between the ages of 30 and 50.
Men with prostatitis may experience symptoms such as:
- Pain or discomfort in the pelvis and lower back
- Difficulty and pain to pass urine
- Increased frequency of passing urine
- Low libido
- Pain upon ejaculation
These symptoms often persist for extended periods of time, although the severity of symptoms can vary greatly from day to day. If they present suddenly and are particularly severe, it is likely an infection is the cause and should be treated as soon as possible.
When prostatitis is suspected, other medical conditions involving the prostate gland should be considered and eliminated. Enlarged prostate, for example, can be related to prostate cancer and should be investigated. It is usually older men that present with enlarged prostate, although it should always be considered given the serious nature of the condition.
For most affected men, inflammation of the prostate gland occurs without any evidence of infection. For the chronic condition, which can persist for several months, the cause is particularly unclear. It is thought that bacteria may create a biofilm over the prostate gland, resulting in long-term symptom, although there is not strong evidence to support this.
In some cases, prostatitis can be cause by a bacterial infection of the prostate gland. Symptoms usually present more quickly and with greater severity, requiring immediate medical attention.
To address symptoms of pain associated with prostatitis, painkillers can be used. Paracetamol and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen are the most common options, chosen for their favorable side effect profile and suitable results.
A course of antibiotics is indicated if a bacterial infection is suspected to be causing the condition. A relatively long course of up to four weeks is most often prescribed for complete eradication of the infection and to ensure it is not able to grow back.
Particularly for men with weak urinary flow, alpha-blockers like tamsulosin may be used to manage the condition in the long-term. It is worth noting that it may take a few months for the full effect to produce results.
Occasionally other medications are also used to treat the condition. Finasteride, which is commonly used in the treatment of prostate enlargement, sometimes has a place in therapy. Additionally, amitriptyline or gabapentin may provide an alternate method of pain relief.