What causes prostatitis?
The prostate gland is a walnut-sized organ located behind the pubic bone and in front of the rectum in males. It's made up of smooth muscle, spongy tissue and tiny ducts and glands. The primary function of the prostate gland is to produce seminal fluid — the fluid that transports sperm. At birth, a boy's prostate is about the size of a pea. It grows slightly during childhood and then undergoes a rapid growth spurt at puberty. By the time a man reaches age 20, his prostate is adult size.
After age 45, the prostate often begins to grow again when cells in the central portion of the gland start to reproduce more rapidly than normal.
Prostatitis is divided into categories based on cause. Although not technically part of your urinary system, the prostate gland is important to your urinary health. That's because the prostate surrounds the top portion of the tube that carries urine from your bladder (urethra). Normally, the location of the prostate gland isn't a problem. But infection or inflammation can cause the gland to swell, squeezing the urethra and affecting your ability to urinate. That's exactly what happens in prostatitis, although the cause of the inflammation depends on the type of prostatitis you have.
Acute bacterial prostatitis: Bacteria normally found in your urinary tract or large intestine cause this type of prostatitis. Most commonly, acute prostatitis originates in the prostate, but occasionally the infection can spread from a bladder or urethral infection.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis: It's not entirely clear what causes a chronic bacterial infection. Sometimes bacteria remain in the prostate following acute prostatitis. Catheter tubes used to drain the urinary bladder, trauma to the urinary system or infections in other parts of the body can sometimes be the source of the bacteria.
Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis: Researchers don't know the exact cause of the two types of chronic nonbacterial prostatitis, although they have a number of theories about possible triggers of the conditions, including:
Other infectious agents: Some experts believe nonbacterial prostatitis may be caused by an infectious agent that doesn't show up in standard laboratory tests. Lifting heavy objects when your bladder is full may cause urine to back up into your prostate. Occupations that subject your prostate to strong vibrations, such as driving a truck or operating heavy machinery, may play a role. Although regular exercise, especially jogging or biking, is great for the rest of your body, it may irritate your prostate gland. Urinating in an uncoordinated fashion with the sphincter muscle not relaxed may lead to high pressure in the prostate and subsequent symptoms. Narrowings (strictures) of your urethra may elevate pressure during urination and cause symptoms.
More information on prostatitis
What is prostatitis? - Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland characterized by perineal pain and irregular urination and (if severe) chills and fever. An inflamed prostate can cause a variety of symptoms.
What are prostatitis signs and symptoms? - Symptoms of prostatitis are nonspecific and have been known to mimic other urologic and nonurologic diseases. The signs and symptoms of prostatitis depend on the cause of the inflammation.
What are the prostatitis risk factors? - Risk factors for prostatitis include bladder outlet obstruction, diabetes mellitus, a suppressed immune system, and urethral catheterization.
What causes prostatitis? - Acute prostatitis originates in the prostate, the infection can occasionally spread from a bladder or urethral infection. Nonbacterial prostatitis may be caused by an infectious agent.
How is prostatitis diagnosed? - To examine the prostate gland, the physician will perform a digital rectal examination (DRE). The various urine specimens and prostatic fluid will be analyzed for signs of inflammation and infection.
How is prostatitis treated? - The treatment of prostatitis is based on the cause. If acute bacterial prostatitis is diagnosed, the patient will need to take antibiotics for a minimum of 14 days.
What alternative treatments are available? - Acute, chronic, or nonbacterial prostatitis are inflammatory and infectious conditions that can be treated naturally with lifestyle changes. Supplements are intended to provide nutritional support.