Prostatitis refers to not one, but several conditions in which the prostate becomes swollen and inflamed. Unlike the prostate growth known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which typically affects older men, prostatitis is more common in men under age 50.

A few different types of prostatitis exist. By far the most common form is chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. What causes this condition isn?t clear, but it may stem from a bacterial infection, an immune response to a past infection, or damage to the pelvic nerve.

Symptoms of chronic prostatitis include a frequent and urgent need to urinate, painful urination, lower abdominal pain, and uncomfortable ejaculation. The condition can be hard to diagnose, because tests for bacteria are usually negative. Chronic prostatitis treatments include antibiotics to clear up an infection, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain, and alpha-adrenergic blockers to relieve urinary symptoms.

Acute bacterial prostatitis and chronic bacterial prostatitis are less common forms of prostatitis. In acute bacterial prostatitis, bacteria infect the prostate gland, causing sudden and painful inflammation. Symptoms are similar to those of chronic prostatitis, including frequent and urgent urination. The main treatment is a two-to-six-week course of antibiotics.

Bacteria also cause chronic bacterial prostatitis, although the symptoms tend to be milder and last for at least three months. Treatment also involves antibiotics, but the course is longer than it is with acute bacterial prostatitis. Men must take antibiotics for at least four to 12 weeks, and sometimes for several months, to fully eradicate the infection.

The rarest form of this prostate condition is asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis, which is usually detected during an examination for another urinary tract or reproductive condition. Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis causes no symptoms?the only evidence of the disease is white blood cells in the urine or semen?and it does not need to be treated.

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