Prostate cancer is one of the main concerns in older adult males. The incidence of prostate problems increases as we age. But there’s a prostate problem that appears in young and older patients.
Prostatitis can be widespread in adult males. It is actually more common in patients younger than 50 years old. But older patients with prostate problems may also develop prostatitis. For example, prostatitis can be a complication of a transrectal prostate biopsy.
That’s why males should know about prostatitis regardless of their age. In this article, we are going to review this prostate problem and its warning signs. We are also giving you a few recommendations about what you can do if you have these symptoms.
What is prostatitis?
Prostatitis refers to the inflammation of the prostate gland. It is an inflammatory process mediated by substances and cells that infiltrate the prostate. By triggering inflammation, these cells and substances cause alterations in the blood vessels.
The liquid is retained in the prostate gland, and it starts swelling and causing pelvic pain. The prostate is near the urinary tract, so it is very likely to cause urinary symptoms.
A prostate infection often causes prostatitis. In many cases, the root cause is a urinary tract infection or a sexually transmitted disease. These bacterial infections migrate to the prostate tissue and cause an inflammatory reaction. But, as we will see further, this is not always the case. Sometimes prostatitis is not triggered by infections. That’s why we also have a type of nonbacterial prostatitis.
Either way, prostatitis is not usually a severe disease. It is often cured with antibiotics and won’t have many sequelae. But in other cases, we can have instances of recurrent prostatitis and many complications. One of the worst complications is a prostatic abscess, which may need surgical drainage. But this usually happens when the problem is not addressed correctly from the start (1).
Types of prostatitis
There are different classifications of prostatitis, and we can highlight two of them. First, we have a classification according to the root cause. It can be divided into bacterial prostatitis and nonbacterial prostatitis. Then, we have a classification according to the progression of the disease. It is then divided into acute prostatitis and chronic prostatitis.
Joining both classifications, we have the following subtypes:
- Acute bacterial prostatitis: This is an acute bacterial infection of the prostate. The symptoms have a sudden onset, and it is not the most common. An acute infection causes around 10% of prostatitis cases. It is more commonly seen after transrectal prostate biopsy or urethral catheterization (2).
- Chronic bacterial prostatitis: This is a chronic bacterial infection of the prostate gland. In many cases, it is caused by a recurrent bacterial infection. In other cases, there’s no clear evidence of infection. The latter cases are often recognized as chronic pelvic pain syndrome. The symptoms are insidious, and the onset is very slow (3).
- Acute nonbacterial prostatitis: This is very similar to acute bacterial prostatitis. The symptoms are basically the same, but the root cause is different. Instead of bacterial infections, we usually have a yeast infection. Chlamydia can be one of the causes. However, it is not as frequent and bacterial prostatitis (4).
- Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis: It is also recognized as the pelvic pain syndrome. However, chronic nonbacterial prostatitis is perhaps the most common type. These patients have chronic pelvic pain for weeks, months, or years. It degrades their quality of life and can be challenging to treat because it does not always respond to antibiotic treatment (5).
We also have another type of prostatitis worth mentioning:
- Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis: It is an asymptomatic inflammation of the prostate. In other words, patients have infiltrated white blood cells and a swelling prostate. But they do not have any symptoms, which is often found after evaluating other problems, usually infertility. There’s usually no necessary treatment, and there’s no symptom whatsoever (6).
7 warning signs of prostatitis
Prostatitis symptoms can be divided into three types. We have urinary symptoms, including difficulty to urinate and increased frequency. We also have pain symptoms, especially pelvic pain. And there’s also fever and chills, which appear in some cases.
With that in mind, let us dive into the most common symptoms of prostatitis (7). Pay attention to each one of them, and if you suspect you’re having two or more, be sure to talk to your doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms and what to do about them.
Having to urinate often
The urinary bladder is located next to the prostate. In prostatitis, the gland becomes inflamed, and the same happens to the adjacent structures. The bladder becomes slightly inflamed, and this often causes urinary symptoms.
It feels similar to a urinary infection. Patients feel urinary urgency and the need to urinate often. The urine flow may also become compromised, especially in older patients. As a result, we have more urinary frequency but almost the same volume.
A swollen prostate sometimes behaves similar to benign prostatic hyperplasia. When it becomes enlarged, the prostate reduces the urinary flow in the urethra.
The gland is actually surrounding the proximal urethra so that the effect can be immediate. In very severe cases, it may even cause urinary retention. This is especially the case in older adults who already have other prostate problems. They may require a urinary catheter to solve their problem, and this is often a medical emergency.
Pain or burning during urination
The urinary tract becomes inflamed and swelling, as well as the prostate. This leads to an overactivation of nerve terminals. They become irritated, and any additional impulse will be translated into pain. Then, urination can feel burning or painful, as if the patient had a urinary infection. Infected urine and prostatitis have in common this symptom, and sometimes it can be a bit difficult to differentiate them.
Painful urination is often attributed to urinary infections. It is often found as a symptom in patients with recurrent urinary tract infections. If that’s the case and doctors prescribe antibiotics, the symptoms will be solved in bacterial prostatitis. But in nonbacterial prostatitis, antibiotics are unlikely to resolve the problem.
Chills and fever
Most patients do not have a fever or have a low fever they often disregard. In cases of very high fever and chills, the prostatic tissue is probably undergoing complications. One of the most common complications is the development of a prostatic abscess. This is a collection of pus and other infectious material surrounded by a capsule.
If the infection continues to escalate, other consequences become more likely. Sepsis is not common, but it should be considered in cases of very high fever. In any case, fever is another likely symptom, especially when the inflammation becomes worse.
Pain that comes and goes in the lower abdomen, around the anus, in the groin, or in the back
This pelvic floor pain is a key symptom to diagnose chronic pelvic pain syndrome. This type of pain has varying degrees of intensity. Most cases of pelvic pain are held for a very long time. Patients feel continuous pain and reduce their quality of life. When the problem becomes chronic, it doesn’t matter if you have mild or severe pain.
Longstanding pain is still tough to live through and requires not only medications but also psychological therapy. There’s an understanding that the symptoms of chronic pelvic pain syndrome are an interplay of psychological, neurological, immune, and endocrine problems (8).
Pain during ejaculation
Prostatic secretion increases the volume of sperm. This prostatic fluid is also essential as a nutritional source for sperm cells. It is released very rapidly during ejaculation by contraction of the prostate gland. But when the prostate becomes inflamed or swollen, this forceful release can cause pain. It is described as painful ejaculation and often affects the sexual life of men with prostatitis.
However, there’s a common misunderstanding that prostatitis causes infertility or sexual dysfunction. This is not the case, or at least not the most common presentation of the problem. Other causes of impotence and sexual dysfunction should be ruled out before considering prostatitis.
Pain during sexual intercourse
Every case of prostatitis can be different from each other. Some patients do not only experience pain during ejaculation. They may also experience pain during sexual intercourse. This may be due to the micro-ejaculations that take place all along the sexual act. In any case, we should make clear that sex does not worsen prostatitis, even if you feel pain. What it does is interfering with the enjoyment of sexual activity.
As mentioned above, every case of prostatitis can be different from others. Some patients may even report that sexual activity relieves their prostatitis symptoms. Thus, we shouldn’t rule out prostatitis just because we don’t have pain during intercourse.
Treatment (medication bullets)
Prostatitis can be treated depending on the type and subtype. There’s not a conventional treatment for all forms of prostatitis. Some cases can be controlled by using certain antibiotics. Others require a more thorough approach, and sometimes psychological attention (9).
- Acute Bacterial Prostatitis: The majority of patients improve significantly after receiving antibiotics. Only patients with a very severe infection, sepsis, and other complications should be hospitalized. Antibiotics are often chosen among broad-spectrum penicillin derivatives, fluoroquinolones, or cephalosporins. Antibiotic treatment often lasts 14 to 28 days. Other medications include urinary analgesics, antipyretics, and sometimes stool softeners. They are considered symptomatic treatment, only administered when necessary.
- Chronic Prostatitis and pelvic pain: Antibiotic treatment in bacterial cases is usually very long. It may last for 4 to 6 weeks, especially when there’s inflammation. In these cases, trimethoprim, fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines, and macrolides are very useful antibiotics. Additionally, we can use analgesics, alpha-blocking agents, and stool softeners. It is imperative to maintain proper hydration. In these cases, pelvic floor physical therapy and biofeedback therapy may be useful as well. These patients often require a multimodal approach, including a psychological assessment.
- Preventing recurrent cases of prostatitis: Recurrent cases of pelvic pain or prostatitis should pay attention to protect against sexually transmitted diseases. This is a fundamental cause of chronic prostatitis. Psychological stress is also associated with chronic prostatitis. Thus, patients with recurrent symptoms should evaluate their case and determine the root cause.
Natural treatments (supplement herbs)
Prostatitis, an enlarged prostate, and prostate cancer have a few similar symptoms. Thus, some natural treatments for BPH may also work for prostatitis. However, there are also a few extracts and nutrients that work better in patients with prostatitis.
Based on our research, this is what we recommend:
- Quercetin: The primary function of quercetin is a natural anti-inflammatory treatment. Prostatitis is based on the inflammation of the prostate, which is countered by quercetin (10).
- Turmeric: This is another anti-inflammatory spice grown in different Asian countries. Besides the anti-inflammatory potential, it is also an antibacterial. That’s why turmeric is considered as a natural treatment to relieve the symptoms of prostatitis. It does not only reduce inflammation but also helps your body fight the microbes (11).
- Saw Palmetto: Saw palmetto is a North American herb that’s become popular for its multiple health benefits. One of them is reestablishing the hormonal balance. The other is a potent anti-inflammatory potential. It also contains flavonoids and other antioxidants that reduce oxidative damage. Altogether, this plant improves urinary symptoms and the quality of life of patients with prostatitis (12).
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is more common as we age, but prostatitis is a common issue in adults younger than 50 years. Older adults may also develop prostatitis, especially after surgical procedures.
Thus, we should be aware of the warning signs and symptoms of prostatitis. They can be divided into urinary tract symptoms, pain symptoms, and fever. Urinary tract symptoms include an increased urinary frequency, a burning sensation when urinating, and difficulty urinating.
Pain symptoms are often referred to as the pelvic area and the groin, sometimes triggered by ejaculation or sex. Fever and chills are another symptoms, especially in very severe cases.
Luckily, treating prostatitis is possible by using antibiotics the right way. Natural treatments may also help to relieve the symptoms.
In Bens Natural Health, we have a complete line of therapy for the prostate. They feature natural herbs and nutrients, such as saw palmetto and turmeric.
All of them are backed up by clinical trials and sufficient scientific research and formulated to achieve the best results. Just be sure to talk to your doctor and inform any new medication or supplement to see how it fits in your current medical treatment.