It is estimated that about 5- 10 percent of men will experience prostatitis during their lifetime. Masculinity is often packaged in a tough and coarse wrapper. Unfortunately, this perception of manhood also serves as a barrier for preventing men from seeking medical care. It is disturbing that a significant number of men do not have a personal physician. Sadly, many of us men only seek medical attention at the point where pain becomes unbearable. An area of concern for most men is that of their prostate health, however, a considerable number of men refuse from seeking medical attention as it relates to this aspect of their health. The refusal of some men to seek medical intervention regarding prostate health is rooted in a culture of homophobia in which men are scared away by the thought of having a doctor insert his or her finger to check their prostate.
Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland. According to MedicineNet.com, prostatitis can result from an infection or from other causes. The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine and semen exit the body. The main function of the prostate gland is to produce seminal fluid in order to transport sperm through the urethra.
Types of Prostatitis
Prostatitis is classified in four groups. Firstly, there is Chronic Nonbacterial Prostatitis. This type is most common. It is also called Chronic Pelvis Pain Syndrome. A patient with this type of prostatitis may experience symptoms over a long period. Acceding to Urology Associates, symptoms may vary in their intensity and often include pain and discomfort. Sadly, doctors are unsure what the causes of this type are.
Secondly, there is Acute Bacterial Prostatitis. This type of prostatitis is the least common. It can occur suddenly and may include flu-like symptoms (chills, fever, nausea, vomiting). This type is caused by bacteria being present in the prostate.
Thirdly, there is Asymptomatic Inflammatory Prostatitis. This type usually does not have symptoms nor require treatment. Interestingly, the cause is unknown but it is often diagnosed after infection-fighting cells are noted to be present.
Finally, there is Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis. This ongoing type of prostatitis is caused by a prostate infection that is not cleared up with antibiotics.
According to the Mayo Clinic prostatitis often causes pain and or difficult urination. Other symptoms may include pain in the groin, blood in semen or urine, pelvic area or genitals and sometimes flu-like symptoms. Prostatitis affects men of all ages, but is more common in men 50 years or younger.
Other common symptoms range from, cloudy urine, blood in the urine, pain in the area between the scrotum and rectum (perineum), painful ejaculation, pain or discomfort of the penis and or testicles, pain or burning sensation when urinating (dysuria).
Among the risks factors of prostatitis are HIV/AIDS, having had a prostate biopsy and having an infection in the bladder or the tube that transports semen and urine to the penis. (urethra)
In some men, prostatitis might raise the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). PSA is a substance produced by the prostate cells that doctors measure to screen for possible presence of prostate cancer.
A Challenging and Personal Sojourn
Recently, a colleague of mine who I will refer to as Kingsley went through a most challenging time as he went from doctor to doctor trying to diagnose and treat his medical condition. Kingsley’s ordeal began in August of 2017. Among the symptoms Kingsley spoke about was “spotting” of his underwear, a tingling movement along the urethra line, numbness in both legs, a tingling discomfort of the stomach, a reduction of urine flow, lower pelvic floor discomfort and an unusual sensation along the pelvic floor between his testicles and anus. He immediately consulted his doctor who did a test of his urine and diagnosed him with a urinary tract infection. According to Kingsley, aged 54, he was given a course of seven (7) days antibiotics. At the end of the treatment his symptoms disappeared much to the delight and relief of Kingsley, however, three days after he finished the antibiotics the ‘spotting’ returned. He revisited the doctor who prescribed another 7 days course of antibiotics resulting in the clearing of the symptoms. He was thankful that his health had been restored, yet, this was to be short-lived and his nightmare was just to begin. It is often said that bad luck is worse than obeah in the Jamaican culture. A month later he contracted influenza and like most of us he bought some over the counter (OTC) medication to treat the flu. It appeared at first that the OTC medication might have worked. Kingsley, vividly recall being at work in early November when he began to experience stomach discomfort. As 2017 came to an end Kingsley was still battling a medical condition which was still very much a mystery. He had a frightening experience one evening when he suffered a panic attack while at home resulting in him losing consciousness briefly. At this point Kingsley had no clue that his symptoms were related to prostatitis. He had seen a number of doctors who were all treating him for Acid Reflux. The following week Kingsley experienced the same stomach symptoms and subsequently he went to the hospital fearing that he might experience a block out once again. The doctor on duty ordered a series of blood tests; Kingsley was given an Intravenous treatment. The doctor ruled out a heart attack and stomach bacteria after the results of both the Electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood test returned negative. According to Kingsley, the following week went fairly well. However, no sooner than the second week started his stomach started acting up again. He went back to the hospital and this time the doctor on call ordered a number of tests to include a Barium Meal, a colonoscopy, ultrasound, blood tests for diabetes and cholesterol. It is always challenging for anyone to endure illness of any form by him/herself.. It was during this time that Kingsley moved in with his brother and his family for their support. The ultrasound showed that he had an enlarged prostate and some fat around the liver. Kingsley was extremely careful with his words as he stated that the blood tests revealed that he was marginally diabetic and suffering from borderline cholesterol. The doctor immediately put him on medication to treat those conditions. Kingsley recalled that November of 2017 was the worst of his four month ordeal. On his fifth and final visit to the hospital the doctor told him that he had Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, commonly referred to as acid reflux. He had multiple visits to the hospitals as well as a referral to a gastroenterologist. On the 23rd of November Kinsley noticed that he was having difficulty urinating. On Monday, November 27, 2017, he experienced once again a burning discomfort in the pelvic floor as well as sensations going down towards his legs. Upon visiting his general practitioner he was diagnosed with prostatitis. The glee of relief in Kingsley’s eyes was as bright as the morning sun on the day of the interview, Friday, January 5, 2018. It should be noted that Kingsley is still on the road to full recovery. He takes things one day at a time. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of acid reflux and prostatitis are similar. Regrettably, many men are made to suffer unnecessarily because the correct diagnosis is not readily made.
How to Minimize Prostatitis
Although in some cases the cause of prostatitis is unknown, there are some things a man can do to minimize the risks of experiencing this condition. According to the online literature, it is recommended that men stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water since this helps men to urinate frequently, which flushes out the urethra.
Avoiding irritating the urethra is also important in reducing the likelihood of developing prostatitis. This can be done by avoiding or limiting spicy food, alcohol and caffeine. This of course requires much discipline since many men consume alcohol, as well as, caffeine and spicy foods, such as jerk foods. Reducing prostate pressure is also recommended. Men who ride bicycles frequently should consider wearing padded shorts to reduce pressure on the prostate region.
As the interview with Kingsley came to an end, he stressed that men need to pay more attention to their health. He also spoke of how important it is for men to move beyond the stigma associated with having a physically prostate examination. Kingsley encourages men over 40 years to have this procedure done at least once per year. In the words of Hippocrates, healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.
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Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and or gender issues.