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Prostatitis, inflammation of the prostate, is a frequently painful condition that mostly affects young and middle-aged men. It is sometimes hard to diagnose because the symptoms can be vague and vary from person to person.
The prostate is a gland found only in men that is responsible for the production of some of the fluids that make up semen. It is located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder - roughly in the upper pelvis/ lower abdomen. It also surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries both semen and urine to the outside world via the penis).
There are four conditions referred to as "prostatitis":
Acute bacterial prostatitis - This is the easiest to diagnose and treat. It is an infection of the prostate caused by bacteria. It comes on suddenly and can have the following symptoms: chills, fever, pain in the lower back and/or genitals, nausea, urinary frequency and urgency, burning, or painful urination. This can be diagnosed by urinalysis, which shows white blood cells and bacteria in the urine. It is usually treated with antibiotics.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis - This occurs when bacteria set up shop in the prostate for a longer period of time. The most frequent sign of this is frequent urinary tract infections. Between these infections, there may or may not be symptoms, including vague pain and urinary frequency.
Chronic prostatitis - This is the most common form of prostatitis, but the least well understood. It has symptoms that come and go, including vague abdominal pain. This condition is usually a diagnosis of exclusion. That is, a doctor will likely perform multiple tests to rule out other possibilities before making this diagnosis. Various treatment possibilities are available, but it is a difficult condition to treat effectively.
Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis - This condition is often found accidentally, as it doesn't cause symptoms. There are inflammatory (infection-fighting) cells in the prostate fluid and semen but without any demonstrable effects.