Bladder Infections

A bladder infection, also known as Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) or cystitis, is a common ailment caused by a bacterial infection of the urinary tract. The infection presents itself with burning and other painful sensations while urinating, along with frequent urination.

ABOUT

The disease affects women much more than men because of the anatomically shorter urethra in the female urinary system. The problem is treated easily with antibiotics, although the symptoms could be traced to other larger conditions as well.

CAUSES

Bladder Infections begin when bacteria are introduced into the urinary tract. This can happen in a variety of ways.

  • Rectal Bacteria: Women have shorter urethras than men, and the female urethra’s proximity to the anus makes rectal bacteria a common cause of bladder infections.
  • Honeymoon Cystitis: Sexual activity will increase the chances of UTI’s, as exposure to bacteria is increased with intercourse. Sexual intercourse also cause subtle trauma to the urethra and bladder.  The old fashioned term “Honeymoon Cystitis” is used to describe recurrent UTI’s related to increased/frequent sexual activity.
  • Pre-existing conditions: Additional conditions, such as kidney stones or other pre-existing problems in the urinary tract (post-menopausal atrophy, interstitial cystitis, etc.) can lead to increased chances of UTI or mimic its symptoms.
  • Bacteria strains: There are numerous bacteria strains that cause bladder infections, but one of the most common is E. Coli, usually found in the colon.

SYMPTOMS

Once infected, the symptoms are often acute and extremely easy to identify. The patient can experience:

  • Burning pain while urinating
  • More frequent or irregular urination
  • Cloudy or malodorous urination
  • Pain in the kidney area (lower back)

If these symptoms occur, a doctor should be visited immediately.

DIAGNOSIS

The diagnosis of a UTI is often quick and easy, but additional tests might be necessary to rule out other ailments, like STD’s, which can exhibit similar symptoms. Diagnosis typically includes:

  • A urine dipstick: The most common test is a urine dipstick, which chemically tests for the presence of blood, white blood cells, and nitrates that are not commonly found in healthy urine.
  • Microscopic examination: A microscopic examination of the urine can be helpful in looking for bacteria, red blood cells, or white blood cells, which are not usually contained in urine.
  • Urine culture: A urine culture can be extremely helpful in determining which strain of bacteria is causing the infection. This information can be used to prescribe the most effective antibiotics, particularly if initial antibiotic treatment does not eliminate the symptoms.

TREATMENT

Usually antibiotics will be prescribed, along with a recommendation to drink plenty of fluids.

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