Bladder Infection Explained for You

About 1 in 3 women will get a bladder infection at least once in their life. Many of them will suffer from recurring bladder infections. Although men and children may also suffer from this ailment, women are the most common victims. Why does this occur so often in females? It may be because women have a relatively short urethra. You may suffer a bladder infection only or it may be part of a urinary tract infection (UTI) which can affect not only the bladder but also the kidneys, urethra, or ureter.

What Is a Bladder Infection?

A bladder infection may also be called cystitis, or inflammation of the bladder, the flexible sac where urine is stored. It is caused by the growth of bacteria within the bladder. Normally the body can remove the problematic bacteria, but sometimes it adheres to the walls of the bladder and multiplies at such a rapid pace that the body cannot control it efficiently. That’s when a bladder infection occurs.

Bladder infections are classified into 2 types: simple and complicated. Most of them fall into the simple category because their only cause is the growth of bacteria. Complicated bladder infections are found in men and in people who may have nerve damage, an obstruction, or who use a catheter to transport urine out of the body. Certain illnesses, like diabetes, may also cause a complicated bladder infection.

Symptoms of Bladder Infections

Most bladder infections cause the same type of symptoms and those who have experienced more than one bout with the condition can usually identify their symptoms soon after they begin to occur. Symptoms of bladder infections may include:

  • Frequent and urgent need to urinate. When you do go to relieve yourself, very little urine is produced.
  • A burning sensation, pain, or discomfort during urination.
  • Frequent nighttime urination.
  • Lower abdominal or back pain, or bladder spasm.
  • Cloudy urine or urine with a strong odor.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • The elderly may experience lethargy and mental confusion, which may be a sign of UTI (urinary tract infection).
  • A fever or chills may be felt, meaning that the infection has affected the kidneys.

When to See a Doctor

If you have the following symptoms, you should seek doctor's advice and help immediately:

  • Side and back pain
  • Chills and fever
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Painful or frequent urination that persistent for hours
  • Having symptoms mimic your previous UTI
  • Bladder infection comes back after a course of antibiotics, which means that other medications may be needed

How to Get Bladder Infections in Control

Diagnosing a bladder infection is a relatively simple process. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms. If you have recurring bladder infections, she may be able to help you over the phone. If this is your first bladder infection, you will need to visit the physician and probably have a urinalysis or urine culture to confirm the diagnosis.

  • Patient with simple bladder infections are normally prescribed a short course of antibiotics and will often feel better soon after. Complicated bladder infections may require a longer treatment time.
  • Some home remedies also help relieve bladder infection systems. Drinking lots of water helps flush the bacteria out of the system. Taking Vitamin C and drinking cranberry juice increases the amount of acid in your urine which in turn helps to kill bacteria.
  • Foods to avoid. Avoid spicy foods, fatty foods, alcohol, refined foods (like pasta and bread) and sugar because they weaken your body's immune system; Avoid caffeinated foods and drinks, like coffee, chocolate, tea and colas, because they cause dehydration and causes irritation; Orange juice, grapefruit juice and other citrus drinks should be avoided.
  • Use procedures to manipulate your bladder so as to promote healing. You can do this by stretching your bladder with gas, water or surgery.

Preventing Recurring Bladder Infections

Sometimes certain lifestyle changes will help cut down the occurrence of bladder infections. Some of these tips include:

  • Keep hydrated. Drinking at least 6-8ounces water daily is advised.
  • Wear cotton underway to wick moisture away from the body and avoid too tight clothing. These steps help discourage an environment where bacteria like to grow.
  • Drink cranberry juice frequently. Besides making your urine more acidic, it discourages bacteria from clinging to the bladder walls.
  • Use sanitary pads rather than tampons.
  • Shower instead of bathing.
  • Practice good grooming habits.
  • Wipe from front to back after using the toilet
  • Go the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge rather than holding it and trapping bacteria inside.
  • Wear clean underwear every day.
  • Urinate after sexual intercourse.
  • Watch your diet. Alcohol and sugary foods or some fruits may encourage bladder infections.
  • Don’t douche or use scented products near the perineal area.
  • If you use a diaphragm for birth control you may want to discuss alternative methods with your doctor.

Urinary tract infections are not fun. If you are one of those women who are vulnerable to this malady, taking steps to prevent them is important. If you have UTI, watch the video below to learn how to treat it at home: