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Know the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Prostatitis

Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD · Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jul 05, 2021

Know the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Prostatitis

When you hear people talk about prostate health, what usually comes up is prostate cancer, or having an enlarged prostate. But prostatitis, or an inflammation of the prostate is not usually discussed, and not a lot of people are aware of this condition.

About one in six men experience prostatitis at one point in their life, and can cause a lot of pain and discomfort if left untreated. Knowing what causes prostatitis, as well as the differences of acute versus chronic prostatitis helps men be more mindful of their health, especially as they grow older.

What is Prostatitis?

Simply put, prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland, or the small organ found below the bladder. 

Prostatitis can be very painful, depending on how severe the condition is as well as if it is acute versus chronic prostatitis. In some cases, the prostate gets infected, but it is also possible that the prostate suddenly becomes inflamed and swells up.

The symptoms of prostatitis can be similar to that of an enlarged prostate, since the swelling causes pressure on the bladder, making it more difficult to urinate. The main difference is that prostatitis is painful, and can occur to men of any age.

What Causes Prostatitis?

Prostatitis can be caused by bacteria traveling up the urethra and up to the prostate. However, it is also possible that bacteria from other parts of the urinary tract can get in the prostate and cause inflammation.

It is also believed that other factors such as stress, depression, inflammation, as well as problems in the pelvic muscles can cause prostatitis. This can sometimes make it difficult to treat prostatitis, especially if the exact cause cannot be identified.

Acute Versus Chronic Prostatitis: What Are Their Differences?

There are two main types of prostatitis, namely, acute and chronic prostatitis.

Chronic Prostatitis

Chronic prostatitis is a recurring infection or inflammation of the prostate. This is the more common type of prostatitis, and can either be caused by bacteria from the urinary tract infecting the prostate, or a repeated inflammation of the prostate.

Chronic prostatitis caused by infection accounts for about 90% of cases, and is by far the most common form of prostatitis. It is also the most difficult to treat since it can sometimes be impossible to find the exact cause of inflammation.

Acute Prostatitis

Acute prostatitis is caused by a bacterial infection, and can appear suddenly, and have more severe symptoms. It is also more dangerous since the infection can spread into a person’s blood and potentially cause sepsis.

The biggest difference between acute versus chronic prostatitis is that acute prostatitis is much more painful compared to chronic prostatitis. It is very important for someone with acute prostatitis to immediately call the doctor since his condition can quickly get worse over time.

What Are the Symptoms of Prostatitis?

When it comes to the symptoms of acute versus chronic prostatitis, there are some similarities, but also certain major differences. Here are some of these symptoms:

For acute prostatitis:

  • The pain caused by acute prostatitis appears suddenly and without warning. 
  • The pain is usually found in the lower back, abdomen, as well as around the penis, testicles, or anus. This can make urinating and defecating painful.
  • Fever is also a common symptom of acute prostatitis.
  • Someone with acute prostatitis might also experience pain when ejaculating.
  • It is also possible for someone with acute prostatitis to have a urinary tract infection or UTI.

For chronic prostatitis:

  • Pain in the lower back, abdomen, penis, or testicles.
  • The prostate is enlarged, or feels tender when examined.
  • Erectile dysfunction, as well as pain when ejaculating can also be a symptom.
  • The symptoms usually last for about three months, and can come and go during this time.

The important thing to remember about acute versus chronic prostatitis is that acute prostatitis appears suddenly and usually has symptoms similar to that of urinary tract infection or UTI. 

What Are the Risk Factors for Prostatitis?

Here are some of the possible risk factors for prostatitis:

  • Being aged 30 to 50.
  • If you have been diagnosed with prostatitis previously.
  • Bladder infection such as a UTI.
  • Injury to the pelvis.
  • If you’ve had a catheter put inside your urethra to aid in urinating.
  • Enlarged prostate.

While prostatitis can be life-threatening, such as in the case of acute prostatitis, there is currently no evidence linking prostatitis with prostate cancer.

How Is Prostatitis Treated?

The treatment of acute versus chronic prostatitis can be very different, depending on the exact cause.

For acute prostatitis, patients are given painkillers to help deal with the pain. Antibiotics also help kill the bacteria causing inflammation. 

If the pain is too much, or if the patient is unable to urinate, hospitalization might be required to monitor the patient’s condition.

Treatment of chronic prostatitis varies depending on the severity, as well as the exact cause. Painkillers can be prescribed by your doctor, and alpha-blockers might also be prescribed to make it easier to urinate.

If chronic prostatitis results from a bacterial infection, then antibiotics might be prescribed as well.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

John Paul Abrina, MD

Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jul 05, 2021

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