Treatments for prostatitis – what and why
All men are at risk of developing acute or chronic prostatitis, which is an inflammation or swelling of the prostate gland.
- can be life-threatening
- symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, difficulty in urinating
- pain, which can be intense, in or around the penis, testicles, anus, lower back or lower abdominal area
- symptoms are similar to acute prostatitis, but these are typically milder and recur over time
- not dangerous, but can significantly hurt patients’ quality of life
How to diagnose prostatitis
To diagnose either acute and chronic prostatitis, doctors will ask about patients’ symptoms and medical history, and they may also conduct a digital rectal examination. This involves inserting a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to gently feel the prostate.
While acute prostatitis is usually easy to determine because of the severity of the symptoms, chronic prostatitis shares many of the same indicators as other prostate problems, and may require additional steps to rule out these other problems and confirm a diagnosis. These steps could include:
- urine tests
- blood tests
- ultrasound scan of the prostate
- MRI scan of the prostate
Acute prostatitis is normally caused by a bacterial infection of the prostate. Therefore, the conventional treatment is to use antibiotics to manage the symptoms and cure the disease. Patients with very severe symptoms may be hospitalised for a few days while they are given intravenous antibiotics.
For chronic prostatitis, doctors may treat the symptoms by prescribing antibiotics, painkillers, and medicine (examples are alpha-blockers) if the patient has difficulty urinating. Alpha-blockers relax the muscles around the prostate gland and base of the bladder to reduce its symptoms.
To prevent the recurrence of the symptoms and eliminate the disease, however, patients may need to make lifestyle changes. Chronic prostatitis is often caused by repeated and high levels of stress, for example as a result of gruelling work, lack of sleep, crash diets or overexertion during exercise, so doctors may ask questions about patients’ lifestyle and recommend avoiding potential triggers.
This article has been fact-checked by Dr Sam Peh, consultant urologist at Surgi-TEN Specialists, Farrer Park Hospital.