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Epididymitis occurs when the epididymis swells. This disease can be acute (sudden) or chronic (long-term). It is usually caused by a bacterial infection. 

Acute epididymitis manifests fast as redness and discomfort and resolves with therapy. Chronic epididymitis develops slowly. It often causes duller pain and is a long-term issue. While it can occur at any age, epididymitis is most common in people between the ages of 14 and 35.

Chronic epididymitis symptoms can improve, but they may not completely resolve with treatment and may come and go. Adults account for the vast majority of epididymitis cases.

Causes of Epididymitis

Most “acute” cases are caused by a bacterial infection.

·      Children: The infection may begin in the bladder or kidneys. It eventually spreads to the testis. Some boys may require further tests for urinary tract infections. 

·      Men: Happens due to sexually transmitted illness or STI. Most commonly mycoplasma, chlamydia, or gonorrhea. The infections begin in the urethra and then travel into the testis.  

Additional causes may include:

·      When urine flows backward into the epididymis

·      Prostate gland infection

·      Enlarged prostate that blocks the bladder

·      Recent use of a catheter

·      A bloodstream infection like tuberculosis

Chronic conditions may develop following acute epididymitis. It doesn’t appear to go away. It may also occur in the absence of severe symptoms or a known infection. The cause in this case remains unknown.

Symptoms of Epididymitis

Symptoms may include:

  • Swelling of the scrotum
  • Intense pain in the testicle
  • Redness and warmth of the scrotum
  • Painful urination
  • An urge or frequent need to urinate
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Fever

In some cases, epididymitis can also cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

How Long Will Epididymitis Last?

With proper treatment, most people start to feel better within three days, although swelling and discomfort may last for several weeks. It may even last for months after finishing antibiotic treatment.

Complete your prescribed treatment and follow up with your healthcare provider if symptoms reappear. They will ensure proper diagnosis and rule out other conditions like tumors or testicular cancer.

Who is at Risk of Epididymitis?

Men and people assigned male at birth are at risk of developing epididymitis. 

Certain sexual behaviors that can lead to STIs, such as:

·      Having multiple sexual partners or not using condoms

·      History of STI

·      Having sex with a partner with an STI

Risk factors for non-sexually transmitted condition:

·      An uncircumcised penis.

·      A medical operation that affects the urinary tract like using a catheter or scope into the penis.

·      Have a prostate or urinary tract infection.

·      Prostate enlargement raises 

·      A variation in the usual anatomy of the urinary system.

·      Conditions that weaken the immune system, including HIV.

Complications of Epididymitis

If left untreated, epididymitis can lead to serious complications, including:

  • Infertility
  • Abscesses (pus-filled sacs) in the scrotum
  • Spread of the infection to other parts of the body
  • Chronic epididymitis

Treatment of Epididymitis

Epididymitis is usually treated with a 1-2 week course of antibiotics. This will help clear up the infection and relieve symptoms. Antibiotic medications include:

·      Ciprofloxacin

·      Levofloxacin

·      Doxycycline

·      Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.

In addition to medications, persons with epididymitis can ease their symptoms by:

  • Applying ice packs to the scrotum to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Elevating the scrotum to reduce swelling.
  • Practicing good hygiene, such as washing the genital area regularly.
  • Avoiding heavy lifting and physical activity.

Prevention of Epididymitis

To reduce the risk of developing epididymitis, it is important to practice safer sex, such as using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners. 

Additionally, people with a history of urinary tract infections or other risk factors may want to talk to their healthcare provider about other ways to prevent epididymitis.

When to Seek Further Medical Help

If you have any symptoms of epididymitis, you should immediately seek medical help. If you are experiencing significant discomfort in your scrotum, get immediate care. If you get discharge from your penis or pain when passing urine, visit a doctor.