Diagnosis of Prostatitis
Diagnosis can be made during a DRE (digital rectal exam) where the healthcare provider inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel the prostate. A diagnosis can also be made by the physician examining fluid from the prostate under a microscope. Some doctors use a symptom index questionnaire developed by the National Institutes of Health.
Still, diagnosing prostatitis isn’t easy, so the most important diagnostic tool your doctor has is you and your detailed descriptions of your symptoms.
Prostatitis is not considered a serious disease and it doesn’t lead to cancer. But it’s painful, extremely inconvenient, and sometimes difficult to cure. There are a number of treatment options that usually provide relief. These include antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and surgery.
Types of Prostatitis
There are three major types of prostatitis:
- Bacterial prostatitis
- Nonbacterial prostatitis
There are two types of bacterial prostatitis: acute (meaning it develops suddenly) and chronic (meaning it develops slowly over several years). Each of these types affects about 1 in 10 men with prostatitis.
Both types can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of acute bacterial prostatitis are often severe and therefore are usually quickly diagnosed. These symptoms include:
- Pain in lower back
- Aching muscles
- Frequent or painful urination
Chronic bacterial prostatitis may involve few symptoms other than those of a recurring urinary tract infection. Also, the condition keeps returning even after the initial infection has been treated and symptoms have disappeared.
Nonbacterial prostatitis occurs in about 6 out of 10 men with this condition.
Although the causes are unknown, the inflammation may be related to organisms other than bacteria, like a reaction to substances in the urine. For example, men with a history of allergies and asthma sometimes develop nonbacterial prostatitis. However, doctors cannot be sure exactly how these conditions are related. Doctors do know that nonbacterial prostatitis is not found in men with recurrent bladder infections.
- Occasional discomfort in the testicles, urethra, lower abdomen, and back
- Discharge from the urethra, especially during first bowel movement of the day
- Blood or urine in ejaculate
- Low sperm count
- Sexual difficulties
- Frequent urination
Prostatodynia, or pain in the area of the prostate gland, occurs in about 3 out of 10 men with prostate irritation. Unfortunately, tests used to diagnose infection and other problems affecting the prostate gland, are not useful in detecting the cause of this pain. In some instances, the pain may be caused by a muscle spasm (an involuntary sudden movement or contraction) in the bladder or the urethra. In most cases however, the cause of prostatodynia is unknown. Symptoms include pain and discomfort in the prostate gland, testicles, penis, and urethra, and may include difficulty in urinating.