One of the diseases that can affect the prostate is prostatitis. There are several ways to treat the disease.
Acute prostatitis is first treated with antibiotics. Even though it may be difficult for drugs to actually get into the inflamed prostate, most patients do quickly get better. If intravenous antibiotics are needed or the bladder is retaining urine, a hospital stay may be necessary. Broad-spectrum antibiotics that work against most bacteria are used first. At the same time tests are done with samples of prostatic fluid to determine which bacterium is causing the infection, so that drugs can be prescribed to fight the specific germ. In chronic cases, the best results are obtained with a combination of the antibiotics trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole. Oral antibiotics should be given for one to three months; longer, if necessary. If a fungus or some other organism is causing infection, special drugs are available. If chronic prostatitis continues despite all medical efforts and is seriously affecting the patient’s life, the prostate may be removed surgically.
Nonbacterial prostatitis requires other measures to relieve urinary symptoms. These measures include drugs that fight inflammation (steroids or nonsteroids) and a type of drug called an alpha-blocker that reduces muscle tension. Reduced muscle tension eases urine flow, allowing the bladder to empty. A narrowed urethra may be widened by placing a collapsed balloon at the site of obstruction and expanding it. This procedure is called balloon dilation. The effects of such dilation are usually temporary. Some physicians believe that stress is an important factor in prostatitis, and therefore prescribe diazepam (Valium) or another tranquilizer. The type of prostatitis known as prostatodynia is usually treated with a combination of muscle relaxing drugs, heat, special exercises, and sometimes a tranquilizer.
There are a number of “tips” for relieving symptoms of prostatitis. They are especially helpful early on, before antibiotics have a chance to cure infection, or for patients with chronic or non-bacterial prostatitis:
• Hot baths. Exposing the perineum to very hot water for 20 minutes or longer often relieves pain.
• Ice. When heat does not help, ice packs, or simply placing a small ice cube in the rectum, may relieve pain for hours.
• Water. A patient who has to urinate very often may want to cut back on his fluid intake but this will cause dehydration and increase the risk of bladder infection. Instead, it is best to drink plenty of water.
• Diet. Most doctors recommend cutting out-or cutting down on-caffeine (as in coffee or tea), alcohol, and spicy or acid foods. Constipation should be avoided because large, hard bowel movements may press on the swollen prostate and cause great pain. Bran cereals and whole-grain breads are helpful.
• Exercise. It is especially important for patients with chronic prostatitis to keep up their activity level. Simply walking often will help (unless walking happens to make the pain worse).
• Frequent ejaculation. Ejaculating two or three times a week often is recommended, especially when taking antibiotics.
A treatment popularized in the Philippines is called “prostate drainage“. At regular intervals, a finger is inserted into the rectum, to exert pressure on the prostate at the same time that an antibiotic treatment is given. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine also can be effective in treating prostatitis. Nutritional supplements that support the prostate, including zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, several amino acids, and anti-inflammatory nutrients and herbs, can help reduce pain and promote healing. Western herbal medicine recommends saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) to support the prostate gland. Hot and cold contrast baths can help reduce inflammation.
Most patients with acute bacterial prostatitis are cured if they receive proper antibiotic treatment. Every effort should be made to get a cure at the acute stage because chronic prostatitis can be much more difficult to eliminate. If the acute illness is not controlled, complications such as a localized infection (prostatic abscess), kidney infection, or infection of the blood (septicemia) may develop. When chronic prostatitis cannot be cured, it still is possible to keep urinary symptoms under control and keep the patient active by using low doses of antibiotics and other measures. If a man with any form of prostatitis develops serious psychological problems, he should be referred to a psychiatric specialist.
Potential sources of infection should be avoided. Good perineal hygiene should be maintained and sex should be avoided when one’s partner has an active bacterial vaginal infection. If the kidneys, bladder, or other genitourinary organs are infected, prompt treatment may prevent the development of prostatitis. By far the best way of preventing chronic prostatitis is to treat an initial acute episode promptly and effectively.