Prostatitis simply means an inflammation of the prostate gland. The symptoms are uncomfortable at best; more often they are extremely painful and can also be dangerous. Symptoms may include pain and swelling in the area of the prostate, fever, chills, pain in the lower back, burning or painful urination, a need to urinate frequently and get up in the night, dribbling, fatigue and body aches, and pain with ejaculation. Prostatitis can severely affect the quality of life. Rigorous activity, sports, exercise-even sitting for any length of time in an office, theater or at a sporting event may become too painful to tolerate. And as for sex - it’s simply not an option.
The statistics are alarming. It’s estimated that over 50% of all men will suffer from prostatitis some time in their lives. And what’s worse is prostatitis is no respecter of age. It can strike any adult male - and with painful consequences.
According to the American Foundation for Urologic Disease, 25% of all office visits by young and middle-aged men for genital and urinary problems are the result of prostatitis. It hits men in the prime of life and also is considered to be the most common of all diseases among middle-aged men.
Adding to the problem is the fact that contemporary medicine really doesn’t know much about prostatitis. The Prostate Foundation has termed it “the bastard child” of urology. Though it is the most widespread disease of the prostate, it’s also the least understood and the least researched. As a consequence, it is frequently misdiagnosed.
Physicians sometimes have difficulty distinguishing between the symptoms of prostatitis and benign prostate enlargement (BPH). A Harvard University study showed that urologists seeing patients with the same symptoms diagnosed them with prostatitis if they were under 50 and with BPH if they were over 50. In addition, there are four types of prostatitis, the most common of which is unfortunately the one that is the most baffling.
Prostatitis can be either acute or chronic. That is to say that it can have a sudden onset and be relatively short-lived, or be an ongoing and aggravating problem.
Acute prostatitis is likely to occur intermittently. It can cause fever, bladder discomfort, frequent and burning urination, and blood or pus in the urine. It can also result in infertility.
Chronic prostatitis is ongoing and usually increases with time. Its symptoms may include frequent urination, blood in the urine, a burning sensation, discomfort in the prostate area and lower back, painful ejaculation and even impotence.
Nonbacterial prostatitis is the most common form of the disease, but because it is also the least understood, it’s the most difficult to treat. Nonbacterial prostatitis is frequently a chronic, painful condition found in men of any age. Symptoms may disappear and then return suddenly. Though no evidence of bacteria is found, semen and other prostate fluids contain cells that the body produces to fight infection.
Doctors often treat nonbacterial prostatitis with antibiotics and drugs that relax the muscles of the prostate gland, but these treatments have not been proven to be effective. In fact, they often do not work at all and can have unpleasant side effects as well.
The good news is, there are several herbal remedies that have been shown in clinical studies to help fight and in many cases - conquer prostate problems, including prostatitis. These herbs include pygeum africanum, saw palmetto and nettle root extract.