According to The Prostatitis Foundation, around 50 percent of American men will experience prostatitis during their lifetimes, making it one of the most common urologic diseases in the United States.
Prostatitis is an infection or inflammation of the prostate gland that causes intense pain, urinary complications, sexual dysfunction, infertility, and a significant reduction in quality of life. It is only in the last ten years that any meaningful research has been carried out on the disorder.
Urologists agree that prostatitis is difficult to diagnose and treat, and has a wide range of debilitating and troublesome side affects. Unlike prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH - an enlarged prostate), prostatitis often affects the lives of young and middle-aged men.
The Prostatitis Foundation notes that prostatitis can result in four significant symptoms: pain, urination problems, sexual dysfunction, and general health problems, such as feeling tired and depressed.
To diagnose prostatitis, a physician will collect a patient's urine and thoroughly exam his prostate gland. To check the prostate gland, a physician will carry out a digital rectal examination. The physician also may collect a sample of prostate fluid so that it can be analyzed. Some physicians also may want to carry out a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test to measure the amount of this chemical in a person's blood. Both prostatitis and prostate cancer can increase a patient's PSA level.
In recent years, prostatitis has been subdivided into a number of categories - nonbacterial, acute, and chronic. By far, the most common type of prostatitis is nonbacterial prostatitis. Symptoms may include frequent urination and pain in the lower abdomen or lower back area. Causes may be stress and irregular sexual activity.
According to Dr. Leroy Nyberg, Jr., the director of Urology Programs at the National Institutes of Health, treatments for nonbacterial prostatitis include anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants, drinking extra fluids, learning to relax when urinating, and ejaculating frequently. "Some physicians also may recommend some changes in a patient's diet," Dr. Nyberg said.
Acute bacterial prostatitis can be the result of bacteria, a virus, or a sexually transmitted disease. Symptoms may include fever and chills, low back pain, frequent and painful urination, weak stream urination, and infrequent urination. Dr. Nyberg said that these infections were often treated with antibiotics, bed rest and increased fluid intake.
Since 1995, The Prostatitis Foundation has focused its activities on three fronts: encouraging funding for increased prostatitis research, collecting data on the disease, and providing information about this chronic disease to a variety of audiences, including prostatitis patients.
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Source: Prostatitis Foundation