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Acute Prostatitis

Alternate Names

  • prostate gland infection
  • Prostatitis; acute

Definition

Acute bacterial prostatitis is a sudden infection of the prostate gland in men caused by bacteria.

What is going on in the body?

The prostate gland is located at the base of a man's penis. It secretes substances into the semen that aid in fertility.
The fluid in the prostate is normally sterile. Bacteria from urine can enter the prostate through the urethra, the tube through which urine flows from the bladder to the tip of the penis. These bacteria can multiply and rapidly cause bacterial prostatitis.
Acute bacterial prostatitis is almost always accompanied by an infection in the urinary tract from the same organism.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the infection?

Bacteria commonly found in the intestines are usually responsible for urinary infections in older men. Conditions that make men more prone to urinary infections can contribute to prostatitis. One of these is the blockage of urine flow due to an enlarged prostate gland.
In younger men, the cause is more often a sexually transmitted infection. The episode of prostatitis generally follows sexual contact with an infected partner.

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the infection?

When urine is not completely voided, it is a target for bacteria. This exposure can cause an infection in the prostate. Therefore, treating blockages that limit the flow of urine out of the bladder is a helpful strategy. This can reduce the amount of urine that is left in the bladder after urination, thereby reducing of urinary infection.
Limiting sexual activity to one lifelong, mutually faithful partner may prevent prostatitis from a sexually transmitted infection.

Diagnosed

How is the infection diagnosed?

Diagnosis of prostatitis begins with a history and physical exam. The healthcare professional will feel the prostate by means of a rectal exam. If the man has prostatitis, the gland will be tender and swollen. A urine sample will reveal large numbers of bacteria and white blood cells.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the infection?

Acute bacterial prostatitis can lead to the spread of bacteria into the bloodstream. In extreme cases, the result is septic shock, a dangerously low blood pressure that occurs as a result of infection throughout the body. A pocket of pus or an abscess can also form in the prostate.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

Acute prostatitis from a non-sexually transmitted source is not contagious, and poses no risk to others. If the prostatitis is due to a sexually transmitted infection, that infection can be passed to a sexual partner.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the infection?

Acute bacterial prostatitis is treated with antibiotics, including:
  • ciprofloxacin (i.e., Cipro)
  • levofloxacin (i.e., Levaquin)
  • norfloxacin (i.e., Noroxin)
  • ofloxacin (i.e., Floxin)
  • trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (i.e., Bactrim, Cotrim, Septra)
Prostatitis due to an STI is treated with the antibiotics appropriate for that STI.
Acute bacterial prostatitis combined with an enlarged prostate may lead to urinary retention and the inability to urinate. In this case, urine is extracted from the bladder through a small tube. The tube is placed through the skin of the lower abdomen directly into the bladder. This technique is used rather than placing a catheter through the urethra, because the placement of a catheter through the urethra can cause complications when a person has acute bacterial prostatitis.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Many antibiotics can cause stomach, rash, or allergic reactions. Placement of a tube to drain urine may cause bleeding, infection, or allergic reaction to the anesthetic.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the infection?

Once the infection is effectively treated, the man can return to his normal activities.

Monitor

How is the infection monitored?

Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.

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