Acute bacterial prostatitis is a sudden severe infection of the prostate gland caused by bacteria.
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 urethra is 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.
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.
Symptoms are usually severe and come on suddenly. Symptoms of acute bacterial prostatitis can include:
Diagnosis of prostatitis begins with a history and physical exam. The healthcare provider 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.
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. It reduces the risk of urinary infection.
Acute bacterial prostatitis can lead to the spread of bacteria into the bloodstream. This can cause septic shock. Septic shock is dangerously low blood pressure that occurs as a result of a systemic or full-body infection. A pocket of pus or an abscess can also form in the prostate.
Acute prostatitis is not contagious, and poses no risk to others.
Acute bacterial prostatitis is treated with antibiotics, including:
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. The placement of a catheter through the urethra can cause complications when a person has acute bacterial prostatitis.
Many antibiotics cause stomach, rash, or allergic reactions. Placement of a tube to drain urine may cause bleeding, infection, or allergic reaction to anesthesia.
Once the infection is effectively treated, the man can return to his normal activities.
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.
Author:Stuart Wolf, MD
Editor:Crist, Gayle P., MS, BA
Reviewer:Adam Brochert, MD