infection is a bacterial infection within the bladder. Some people call a
bladder infection a urinary tract infection (UTI). This refers to a bacterial
infection anywhere in the urinary tract, such as the bladder, kidneys, ureters,
or the urethra. While most cases of bladder infection occur suddenly (acute),
others may recur over the long term (chronic). Early treatment is key to
preventing the spread of the infection.
What causes a bladder infection?
Bacteria that enter through the urethra and
travel into the bladder cause bladder infections. Normally, the body removes
the bacteria by flushing them out during urination. Men have added protection
with the prostate gland, which secretes protective hormones as a safeguard
against bacteria. Still, sometimes bacteria can attach to the walls of the
bladder and multiply quickly. This overwhelms the body’s ability to destroy
them, resulting in a bladder infection.
the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive
and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), most bladder infections are
caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli). This type of
bacteria is naturally present in the large intestines. An infection may occur
if there are too many bacteria in the body or if they are not eliminated
Chlamydia and Mycoplasma are other bacteria that can cause
infections. However, unlike E. coli, these are typically
transmitted only through sexual intercourse, and they can also affect the
reproductive organs in addition to your bladder.
Who is at risk for a bladder infection?
get bladder infections, but women are more prone to getting them than men. This
is because women have shorter urethras, making the path to the bladder easier
for bacteria to reach. Females’ urethras are also located closer to the rectum
than men’s urethras. This means there is a shorter distance for bacteria to
factors can increase the risk of bladder infections for both men and women.
- advanced age
- insufficient fluid intake
- surgical procedure within
the urinary tract
- a urinary catheter
- urinary obstruction, which
is a blockage in the bladder or urethra
- urinary tract abnormality,
which is caused by birth defects or injuries
- urinary retention, which means
difficulty emptying the bladder
- narrowed urethra
- enlarged prostate
- bowel incontinence
are overall more prone to bladder infections, men are not completely immune to
them. Furthermore, the NIDDK says that
bladder infections in men tend to recur after the first infection. This is
because bacteria can make their way to tissues within the prostate gland and
hide within the tissues.
What are the symptoms of bladder infection?
of a bladder infection vary depending on the severity. You’ll immediately
notice changes during urination. As the infection progresses, pain also occurs.
Some of the
most common symptoms include:
- cloudy or bloody urine
- urinating more often than
- foul-smelling urine
- pain or burning when
- a frequent sensation of
having to urinate, which is called urgency
- cramping or pressure in the
lower abdomen or lower back
infections can also cause back pain. This pain is associated with pain in the
kidneys. Unlike muscular back pain, you might experience pain on both sides of
your back or the middle of your back. Such symptoms mean the bladder infection
has likely spread to the kidneys. A kidney infection can also cause a low
How is a bladder infection diagnosed?
A doctor can
diagnose your bladder infection by performing a urinalysis. This is a test
performed on a sample of urine to check for the presence of:
- white blood cells
- red blood cells
- other chemicals that are
present in the urine when there is a bladder infection
may also perform a urine culture, which is a test to determine the type of
bacteria in the urine. Once the type of bacteria is known, testing the bacteria
for antibiotic sensitivity is performed to determine what antibiotic will best
treat the infection.
How is a bladder infection treated?
infections are treated with prescription medications to kill the bacteria and
relieve pain and burning. Home treatments may also help relieve symptoms and
cure the infection.
antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria that are causing the bladder infection.
If you’re experiencing pain and burning sensations, your doctor may also
prescribe medication to relieve those symptoms. The most common medication for
relieving the pain and burning associated with bladder infections is called
fluids can help flush the bacteria out of your bladder, but water is best. Your
doctor may recommend that you take over-the-counter ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
or drink cranberry juice to increase the acid levels in your urine, which helps
to kill the bacteria. Another benefit of cranberry juice is that it prevents
bacteria from sticking to the bladder walls.
Can bladder infections be prevented?
lifestyle changes may reduce your chances of getting a bladder infection. If
you have been experiencing recurrent bladder infections, your doctor may
recommend prophylactic treatment. This consists of antibiotics taken in small
daily doses to prevent or control future bladder infections.
following lifestyle changes may reduce or eliminate the occurrence of bladder
- drink six to eight glasses
of water a day, but consult with your doctor about the correct amount of
fluid to drink if you have kidney failure
- drink cranberry juice daily
- urinate as soon as you feel
- wipe from front to back
after urinating if you are female
- don’t use douches, feminine
hygiene sprays, or powders
- take showers instead of
- wear cotton underwear and
- change your underwear daily
- wear sanitary pads instead
- avoid using a diaphragm or
spermicide and change to an alternate form of birth control
- use nonspermicidal
- urinate before and after
If you’re a
woman experiencing recurrent bladder infections, your doctor may give you a
prescription for daily antibiotics to prevent infections or to take when you
feel the symptoms of a bladder infection. They may also have you take a single
dose of an antibiotic after sexual activity.
infections subside within 48 hours of taking the appropriate antibiotic. Some
bladder infections spread to the kidneys due to antibiotic-resistant strains of
bacteria or other health problems.
bladder infections require a combination of treatment and more aggressive
preventive measures. Long-term daily antibiotics may be necessary in some
extreme cases. Being proactive about bladder infections can help reduce their
occurrence, as well as the pain that accompanies them. The earlier you seek
treatment, the less likely that the infection will spread.