Prostate infection, or prostatitis, can cause a number of severe symptoms, can lead to dangerous complications, and can mimic the symptoms of more serious conditions such as prostate cancer.
Where Do Prostate Infections Start?
Prostate infections most commonly spread upward from the urinary tract. When bacteria, viruses or other organisms enter the urethra, the thin tube that carries urine through the penis, it is sometimes possible for them to migrate upward to the area of the urethra that is surrounded by the prostate. They can then invade the prostate and cause an infection.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of a Prostate Infection?
A prostate infection can cause a wide variety of symptoms depending on how long it has been present.
The most common symptoms have to do with problems with urination. Problems with ejaculation are also quite common.
The fact that problems with urination and ejaculation are common makes sense, given that both urine and semen pass through the prostate as they travel out of the body. Inflammation or infection in the prostate results in difficulties with the passage of either of these fluids.
The most common urinary symptoms of prostate infection are:
- Painful urination: specifically, a burning sensation
- Urinary urgency: experiencing an urge to urinate immediately
- Urinary hesitancy: dribbling or difficulty starting the urine stream
- Urinary frequency: needing to urinate more often than usual
- Nocturia: needing to urinate several times per night
Painful ejaculations, pain in the groin or pelvis, and pain in the testicles are all common symptoms of prostate infection as well.
Symptoms such as fever, chills, malaise (feeling generally ill), and fatigue can also occur during a prostate infection.
If the prostate infection lingers (becomes chronic), then intermittent urinary tract infections may occur. Urinary tract infections are generally uncommon in men, and recurrent urinary tract infections in a man should prompt an evaluation for chronic prostatitis or other causes.
What Else Can Result in the Same Symptoms as Prostate Infection?
The most common symptoms of prostate infection, as listed above, are not specific to prostate infection. They can also be experienced when other problems of the prostate are present, including prostate cancer or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as “enlarged prostate."
Because the symptoms of prostate infection can be identical to those of prostate cancer, it is essential that you see your doctor if you develop these symptoms, especially if the symptoms persist.
Kumar, Robbins and Cotran: Pathologic Basis of Disease, 7th ed. 2005.