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What is Prostatitis?

Overview by Professor Raj Persad

Consultant Urologist

North Bristol NHS Trust

What is prostatitis?

Prostatitis is the inflammation of the prostate and sometimes the area around it. There are several types of prostatitis, each with a range of symptoms. Some men with the disease will experience severe pain and symptoms which have a significant impact on their quality of life. In some cases patients will have no symptoms at all.
Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome/Nonbacterial prostatitis /prostatodynia, is the most common prostatitis and its exact cause is unknown. Symptoms can include; pain in the genitals and pelvic area, difficulty or pain urinating, and sometimes pain during or after ejaculation. In many cases treatment is not effective but the disease can ‘burn out’ after several years.
The cause of the disease is unknown, but the following may be relevant
  • Infection with an organism that has not yet been identified
  • An immune reaction to a persistent antigen from an organism or from a urinary constituent
  • Pelvic sympathetic nervous system dysfunction
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Prostatic cysts and calculi
  • Mechanical problems causing retention of prostatic fluid
Acute bacterial prostatitis is the least common type of prostatitis but the most easy to recognise and treat. It is a severe urinary tract infection. The symptoms include painful urination; inability to empty the bladder, pain in the lower back, abdomen or pelvic area and fever.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis is similar to acute bacterial prostatitis but the symptoms develop gradually and are less severe and are characterised by recurrent urinary tract infections. This condition can affect any age group but is most common in young and middle-aged men.

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