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Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis

What Is Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis?

Chronic bacterial prostatitis is a rare condition that causes recurring infections in the prostate and results in swelling, inflammation, and frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs). The prostate is a small gland located directly below the bladder in men.

Even with treatment, bacteria may still survive in the prostate and symptoms often return. Prolonged use of antibiotics is often necessary to effectively treat this condition.

What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis?

Bacterial infections in the prostate can be very painful. The symptoms begin slowly and last three months or longer. See your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • blood in the urine or semen
  • pain or burning with urination
  • pain with ejaculation
  • pain with bowel movements
  • pain in the lower back, between the genitals and anus, above the pubic bone, and in the testicles
  • foul-smelling urine

Serious complications can arise if an infection isn’t properly treated. Complications include:

  • an inability to urinate
  • sepsis, which occurs when bacteria spread into the bloodstream
  • a prostate abscess, which is a collection of pus that causes inflammation

What Causes Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis?

Chronic bacterial prostatitis is caused by a bacterial infection. Even when the primary symptoms of infection have been treated, bacteria may continue to thrive in the prostate.

Causes of infection include:

  • any bacteria that causes a UTI
  • sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea
  • Escherichia coli after having an infection of the testicles, urethritis (inflammation of the urethra), or a UTI

Certain factors put men at risk for developing this condition, such as:

  • an enlarged prostate
  • an infection in or around the testicles
  • a urethral stricture, or narrow urethra

How Is Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis Diagnosed?

To make a diagnosis, your doctor will review your medical history and perform a physical exam to look for swollen lymph nodes near the groin or fluid discharge from the urethra.

Your doctor will also perform a rectal exam to examine the prostate. During this test, your doctor will insert a lubricated and gloved finger into your rectum to look for signs of infection, such as a soft or enlarged prostate.

Your doctor may also perform the following tests:

  • testing fluid from the urethra for bacteria
  • tests to rule out a sexually transmitted infection
  • urine test

How Are Bacterial Infections of the Prostate Treated?

Antibiotics are the main course of treatment for this condition. They’re usually taken for four to six weeks. However, because the infection can return, you may need to take antibiotics for 12 weeks or longer. Your doctor will schedule a follow-up exam once you’ve finished treatment to ensure that the infection is completely gone.

It may take six months to a year for symptoms to go away completely. In the meantime, certain home remedies may be able to ease your symptoms. Home remedies include:

  • warm baths
  • drinking 64 to 128 ounces of water per day
  • using stool softeners to avoid constipation
  • avoiding alcohol, caffeine, citrus juices, and hot and spicy food
  • medications to treat pain

You may need additional treatment in the following rare cases:

  • If you’re unable to urinate, a healthcare provider will insert a tube called a catheter to empty your bladder.
  • If you have an abscess, your doctor will drain it.
  • If you develop sepsis, you’ll get intensive antibiotic therapy and you’ll need to stay in the hospital for treatment.
  • If you have stones, or mineral deposits, in your prostate, your doctor may need to remove your prostate. This is very rare.

What Is the Outlook for Bacterial Infections of the Prostate?

This condition is very treatable. Unfortunately, it’s very common for the infection to come back. Make sure to schedule follow-up appointments with your doctor, so that they can make sure your treatments are effective. 

Content licensed from:

Written by: Julie Roddick
Medically reviewed on: Jan 20, 2016: Mark R Laflamme, MD

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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