The prostate gland is located below the bladder and in front of the rectum; it forms part of the male reproductive system along with the penis, seminal vesicles, and testicles. It is approximately the size of a walnut and surrounds the tube through which urine empties from the bladder (urethra) and its most important function is producing a fluid that makes up 50% - 75% of semen, along with fluid from other glands and sperm from the testicles. In addition, there are muscles in the prostate which when the contract will force sperm into the urethra and expel it out during ejaculation.
Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland; it can be extremely painful and it may spread to the tissue surrounding the prostate gland.
There are two main types of prostatitis:
Symptoms of acute prostatitis may come on rapidly and be very severe; immediate medical attention should be sought. The symptoms may include:
If a person has suffered from some of the following symptoms for at least three months they may be suffering from chronic prostatitis:
These symptoms can be chronic and seriously affect a person's quality of life. However, they will gradually improve with treatment and over a period of time.
The type of treatment needed for prostatitis will depend if it is acute or chronic
In the case of acute prostatitis where the onset is rapid and severe then the usual treatment will be a 2 - 4 week course of antibiotics. If a person is very ill or unable to urinate, however, they may need to spend a period of time in the hospital.
As the symptoms of chronic prostatitis can come and go over a period of months, treatment tends to be aimed at controlling the symptoms when they arise. The doctor may suggest:
By treating symptoms as and when they arise the condition will be less disruptive in a person's life
There are a number of factors which make it more likely for a person to have acute prostatitis:
It is more likely that a person gets chronic prostatitis:
There are several conditions that may exhibit similar symptoms to those of prostatitis and these conditions must be eliminated first. The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. They will also carry out a physical examination which will include carrying out a rectal examination in order to check whether the prostate gland is enlarged. Blood tests and urine tests may also be taken.
On the whole, prostatitis is treatable. The common, chronic types may last for months but will eventually be cured with treatment. Treatment however can be challenging as little is known about what causes it
In the case of acute prostatitis, whilst it can be life-threatening if not treated quickly enough, a course of antibiotics is usually sufficient to treat the infection present. There are a couple of conditions that may arise through this type of prostatitis, one being urinary retention. Painful urination may cause urine to build up in the bladder causing abdominal pain and the inability to urinate. If this happens, inserting a urinary catheter will relieve the situation.
In rare cases, the antibiotics will not clear up the infection and an abscess can develop in the prostate gland. If the antibiotics have not relieved the symptoms then the doctor may suspect this as being the problem and may order a CT scan of the prostate. If an abscess has formed it will require surgery to drain it
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