The Long And Winding Epididymus—Six Things You Should Know About An Acute Epididymitis
The British TV phenomenon Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. There are a great many popular phrases associated with the show, everything from the famous technobabble “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow” to the now-iconic “would you like a jelly baby?” to a favorite of the current generation of Whovians—“fezzes are cool.”
Perhaps no phrase has stuck with the show for so long, however, as the classic refrain “It’s bigger on the inside!”
It describes the titular Doctor’s TARDIS, and to the untrained eye, it could well describe the way in which an epididymis fits inside the area afforded to it by your testicles, as 6-7 meters worth of cord and tissue fit into a far smaller space. It connects the efferent ducts to the rete testis which in turn responsible for storing sperm. This small cord-like tissue is vital for several genital-based functions, but is also susceptible to what is known as epididymitis, a form of irritation which can lead to larger complications and problems. Here are six things that you should know about acute epididymitis:
1. Epididymitis Itself: In short, epididymitis is a term for a certain form of redness, inflammation and irritation which is present in the area around the epididymis. This redness, inflammation, and irritation can naturally causes issues when passing fluids through your urethra. In addition, it can be a sign of further complications.
2. Causes: There are two general presumed causes of epididymitis. In the first place, there’s the possibility of the condition arising as the result of an STD. Two STDs which are commonly associated with epididymitis are chlamydia and gonorrhea. In addition, there is the possibility of contracting epididymitis as the result of prostatitis, which may in turn be caused by Enterobacteriaceae or Pseudomonas.
3. Pathology: The pathology of epididymitis, as stated, generally has the condition present with a form of inflammation. Whether stemming from an STD or a urinary tract infection, the path of inflammation and redness follows in the same general pattern—that is, from the bottom to the top of your urethral pole. In addition, this irritation and redness may lead to larger problems, such as abscesses. This, in turn, leads your tunica vaginalis secreting an inflammatory liquid; in addition, this liquid, combined with the inflammation and the harm done to your pole, may lead to discharge which is pus-like in nature. You can also expect a general thickening of your spermatic cord, which can naturally cause all kinds of problems when it comes to discharging sperm. Your testis may experience some residual effects, but are not generally targeted by the inflammation. Depending on the nature of your inflammation and, if you have them, abscesses, your fertility rate may be drastically lowered as a result of all of this.
4. Signs and Symptoms: There are several signs and symptoms which are characteristic of classic epididymitis. It should already go without saying that redness, irritation, or inflammation in this area constitute very real symptoms which could well be linked to this condition. You may also find yourself experiencing pain in your urethral region in general, and a burning pain during urination in particular. Involuntary urethral discharge is yet another symptom that you may be suffering from epididymitis. Due to this and other potential effects, you may find your overall body temperature rising as high as 40 degrees Celsius (the average being 37.) Likewise, swelling in the region in a common sign of epididymitis, but as this is a symptom for several other conditions as well, you’ll want to check the other signs and symptoms on this list to see if your swelling is due to this or another condition altogether. This swelling is, as stated, usually localized in the groin area, but can radiate out somewhat to the lager scrotal area and cause redness throughout that region as well.
5. Diagnosis: There are several elements which are first examined in order to perform a proper differential diagnosis, many of which have been listed above. The elevation of your leucocytes is one, while Gram-stain smears, cultures, and other tests are also utilized; these complemented with the aforementioned signs and symptoms can lead to a positive identification and diagnosis of epididymitis.
6. Treatment: There are both general and specific ways in which epididymitis may be treated. In terms of general treatment, you’ll want to get plenty of bed rest. Naturally you’ll also want to avoid any sexual activity, and if your epididymitis is the result of an STD, you’ll want to inform your sexual partner as well. Localized injections of anesthetics and fever pills may also help with some of your pain as well as your fever. In terms of more specific treatment, there are a variety of drugs and antibiotics which may be taken; what drug you take and in what dosage will depend first upon whether your condition is STD-related or not as well as the overall severity and nature of your condition.