What is a bladder infection?
A bladder infection, also called cystitis, is a type of urinary tract infection.
How does it occur?
Bacteria are the usual cause of infection. Normally there should be no bacteria in the urinary tract. Bacteria that cause UTI often spread from the rectum or vagina to the urethra and then to the bladder.
Women are more likely to have bladder infections than men because their urethra is shorter. (The urethra is the tube that drains urine from the bladder.) The short urethra makes it easier for bacteria from the anus or genital area to reach the bladder. This can happen during sex or when you wipe after using the toilet. Young women often have bladder infections when they have just started being sexually active.
Bacteria may grow in the urine (pee) if the flow of urine is blocked. For example, when a woman is pregnant, pressure from the baby can cause this problem. In men, an enlarged prostate may cause a blockage.
What are the symptoms?
Possible symptoms of a bladder infection include:
· Urinating (peeing) more often
· Feeling an urgent need to urinate
· Pain or discomfort (burning) when you urinate
· A burning, stinging, or pressure sensation when urinating
· A crampy pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen (belly) or sometimes in the lower back just above the pubic bone or sometimes in the lower back
· Urine that smells bad
· Urine that looks cloudy or reddish
· Leaking of urine
· Fever and sometimes chills
How is it diagnosed?
Your personal healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. A sample of your urine may be tested for bacteria and pus. More tests may be done if you have had several infections. Men may have more tests because bladder infections are less common in men. The tests check for other possible causes of the infection. For example, you may have X-rays to look for kidney stones.
How is it treated?
Bladder infection is a common problem that can usually be treated easily. Your health care personal healthcare provider will prescribe an antibiotic to kill bacteria and prevent the spread of infection to your kidneys.
Your personal healthcare provider may also prescribe Pyridium. This medicine helps relieve burning and discomfort. Pyridium will turn your urine orange and may stain your clothing.
If the infection is causing fever, pain, or vomiting, you may have to spend a day or two in the hospital and get antibiotics by vein (IV). This is especially likely if your personal healthcare provider thinks you may have a kidney infection.
If you have infections often, your personal healthcare provider may ask you to have a follow-up visit after you have taken all of the antibiotic so another sample of your urine can be tested. This is to make sure the infection is gone.
How long will the effects last?
Prompt treatment of a bladder infection with antibiotics usually relieves the symptoms in 1 to 2 days. If your infection has been causing symptoms for several days before treatment or if you are having fever, you may need several days to feel better.
If the infection is not treated, it could spread to the kidneys, make you very sick, and permanently damage the bladder and kidneys. This is why it’s important to get prompt treatment for bladder infections.
How can I take care of myself?
Take all of the antibiotic that your personal healthcare provider prescribes, even when you feel better. Do not take medicine left over from previous prescriptions.
If your personal healthcare provider prescribed Pyridium, use it to feel better while you are waiting for the antibiotic to work.
Drink more fluids, especially water, to help flush the bacteria from your system.
Drinking cranberry juice has been found effective in relieving the symptoms of a bladder infection, but not in curing it.
If you have a fever:
· Ask your health personal healthcare provider if you should take aspirin or acetaminophen for the to control your fever. Check with your personal healthcare provider before you give any medicine that contains aspirin or salicylates to a child or teen. This includes medicines like baby aspirin, some cold medicines, and Pepto-Bismol. Children and teens who take aspirin are at risk for a serious illness called Reye’s syndrome. Anyone under the age of 18 with a fever should not take aspirin because of an increased risk of Reye’s syndrome.
· Keep a daily record of your daily temperature. Follow your personal healthcare provider’s directions for a follow-up urine test. Your personal healthcare provider may want to test your urine soon after you finish taking the antibiotic.
See your personal healthcare provider right away if:
· You keep having symptoms after taking an antibiotic for 2 days.
· Your symptoms get worse.
· You have a fever of 101.5° F (38.6° C) or higher.
· You have new vomiting.
· You have new or worsening pain in your side, back, or belly.
· You have any other symptoms that worry you.
How can I help prevent bladder infection?
You can help prevent bladder infection if you:
· Drink lots of fluids every day.
· Don’t wait to go to the bathroom when you feel the need to urinate.
· Urinate soon after sex.
· Keep your genital area clean. Never combine anal and vaginal intercourse.
· Empty your bladder completely when you urinate.
· Don’t wear a wet bathing suit for long periods of time.
Also, if you are a woman:
· Talk to your personal healthcare provider if you often have bladder infections. You may need extra tests to find out why you have so many bladder infections. Keep a journal to see if your infections are related to sexual activity. If they do tend to happen after sex, your personal healthcare provider may prescribe medicine for you to take after sex or every day to help prevent infection.
· Keep the vaginal area clean. Wipe from front to back after using the toilet. Be sure to wash the genital area gently each time you bathe or shower. However, use soap only on the outside of your vagina. The chemicals in soap may cause more irritation.
· Wear underwear that is all cotton or has a cotton crotch. Pantyhose should also have a cotton crotch. Cotton allows better air circulation than nylon. Change underwear and pantyhose every day.
· Avoid tight clothes in the genital area, such as control-top pantyhose and tight jeans.
· During pregnancy, tell your personal healthcare provider if you have a history of urinary tract problems. Your personal healthcare provider may order tests for bacteria in your urine to catch an infection before you have symptoms.
· If you have stopped having your periods because of menopause and are not taking estrogen, your personal healthcare provider might suggest a vaginal cream. Sometimes this cream helps prevent bladder infections.
Men should always wash their penis during baths or showers. Men who are not circumcised should gently pull back the foreskin and wash the tip of the penis when they take a bath or shower.