Simply put, prostatitis is the inflammation of the prostate gland. This inflammation can be chronic or acute, and unlike an enlarged prostate, it can affect men of any age and is particularly common in men between the ages of 30 and 50. In fact, around 2 in 10 people will suffer from chronic prostatitis at some point in their lives.
Acute prostatitis is caused by a bacterial infection in the prostate and symptoms can develop suddenly and severely. It usually requires quick treatment.
Chronic prostatitis, on the other hand, affects sufferers long-term, and the cause is not always known. It is usually not caused by an infection and can be difficult to treat.
The symptoms of prostatitis can often be confused with the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, so it can be tricky to distinguish the two. You can take our prostate symptom checker to help decide which condition your symptoms point to.
Symptoms of acute prostatitis are generally sudden and severe and include:
- Moderate or severe pain around the penis, testicles, lower abdomen or lower back
- Pain on emptying the bowels
- Painful urination
- Frequent, urgent urination
- Blood in the urine
- Urinary retention
- Feeling unwell or feverish
- Discharge from the urethra
Symptoms of chronic prostatitis last for at least 3 months and include:
- Pain in the groin, penis, testicles, anus, lower abdomen or lower back,
- Painful urination
- A frequent or urgent need to pee
- Sexual problems like erectile dysfunction
Acute prostatitis is caused by a bacterial infection, but it is not always clear how this infection starts.
In some cases it can travel from the bladder, particularly if an enlarged prostate has caused a UTI or bladder infection. However, if you frequently suffer from constipation, then bacteria could travel from the colon, which sits very close to the prostate.
The cause of chronic prostatitis, on the other hand, is not always clear. It is usually not caused by an infection so doesn’t clear up with antibiotics, a bit like interstitial cystitis in women.
In some cases it is caused by lingering inflammation following an infection, but it can also be caused by irritation from urine build up, constipation or chemicals. Some other theories include nerve problems or even an autoimmune disorder.
Acute prostatitis is usually cleared up quickly with antibiotics.
Chronic prostatitis can be more difficult to treat as its cause is less clear. Occasionally antibiotics will be prescribed just to make sure no infection is present, but in many cases the choice of treatment is simply painkillers.
Acute prostatitis should always be treated with antibiotics, so if you think you have this, then make sure to see your doctor as soon as possible and do not try to treat it at home.
Since chronic prostatitis is a long-term condition, many people opt for natural remedies over long-term painkillers.
Following an anti-inflammatory diet can be useful, so try to avoid too much red meat, dairy, alcohol, refined sugar and caffeine. Try eating more natural anti-inflammatory foods like green, leafy vegetables, nuts, oily fish, blueberries and turmeric.
If constipation is an issue for you, then make sure to sort this out as added pressure in the bowel can cause further irritation to the prostate. Eat plenty of fibre and drink plenty of water. In addition, you could try a probiotic like Optibac’s Bifidobacteria & Fibre, which you can buy from our sister company, Jan de Vries.
Alongside this diet, acupuncture can be really useful so don’t rule out this unconventional treatment.
Stress is also known to worsen chronic conditions such as arthritis and IBS, so it could also worsen chronic prostatitis. This is thought to be because stress can cause inflammation in the body, but also because it can cause muscle tension. Take steps to manage stress, and if you’re really struggling you could always make an appointment with a counsellor.
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of acute prostatitis, it’s really important to see a doctor as quickly as possible.
However, if you think you have chronic prostatitis, we’d also recommend seeing a doctor before starting home treatment just to confirm that it is definitely chronic prostatitis and not an enlarged prostate or a more serious condition.
If you like, you can take our prostate symptom checker to give you a better idea of what may be causing your symptoms before you go to your doctor.