Why do I get bladder infections, and what can I do about them?
A bladder infection is the most common type of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
Bladder infections are one of the most common bacterial infections to affect humans and tend to be much more common in women than in men. According to Medical News Today, it has even been estimated that more than 50% of women will experience a bladder infection at some point in their lives.
In most cases, a bladder infection is more annoying and uncomfortable rather than serious, but if the infection spreads to the kidneys, it can cause severe problems and potentially lead to hospitalisation. Understanding how a bladder infection comes about and learning the best methods to treat it ensures that if the symptoms do arise, you know what to do, as UroShield explains in this post.
What is a bladder infection?
A bladder infection is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI) caused by an abnormal growth of bacteria inside the bladder. This growth of bacteria can result in cystitis, which leads to the inflammation of your bladder – meaning that it swells in size and becomes irritated and sore. Generally, bladder infections are acute and occur suddenly, but in some cases, a bladder infection can be chronic and recur over the long term.
How do I know that I have a bladder infection?
You may be able to recognise the symptoms if you have experienced a bladder infection in the past. But if you have not, it is important to take note of the following symptoms, so that you can treat your infection without delay.
According to this NHS.uk page, common bladder infection symptoms in adults are:
- Pain, burning or stinging when you pee
- Needing to pee more often and urgently than normal
- Feeling like you need to pee again soon after going to the toilet
- Urine that’s dark, cloudy or strong-smelling
- Pain low down in your tummy
- Feeling generally unwell, achy, sick and tired
- Blood in your urine
A mild bladder infection will usually go away on its own within a few days, but if the symptoms persist and worsen, consulting your doctor is the best next step. Your doctor is likely to do a physical exam to determine if you have an infection, and if that does not provide an answer, they can perform a urine analysis – checking for bacteria, blood or pus in a sample of your urine.
It must be said that in adults, bladder infections do not usually cause a high temperature. If you have a temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above and pain in your lower back or sides, it may be a sign of a kidney infection and you should see a doctor right away.
What are some of the causes of bladder infections?
It is not always clear what causes a bladder infection, but having a urinary catheter is one of the main causes as pointed out by the NHS.uk site. In fact, the financial burden of catheter-associated UTIs, also known as CAUTIs, on the NHS is staggering – with the cost of just one episode of CAUTIs costing the NHS £1,968 as provided by NICE. Follow the link if you want to know more about tackling CAUTIs.
Apart from catheters, other common causes as listed on NHS.uk also include:
- Having sex
- Wiping your bottom from back to front after going to the toilet
- Using a diaphragm for contraception
Why are women more prone to bladder infections?
Bacterial infections are more common in women, mainly as a result of the female anatomy. A woman has a much shorter and straighter urethra – the duct that transmits urine from the bladder to the exterior of the body during urination. This means when bacteria enter a woman’s body, there is a much shorter distance to travel to the bladder. The opening to a woman’s urethra is also closer to their rectum, where the bacteria that can cause these infections live.
How to treat bladder infections?
The treatment of a bladder infection very much depends on the cause of the infection, the severity of the symptoms, and whether the infection is an isolated case or reflects a chronic condition. This means that the treatment may be the cure, or it could be a temporary solution until the next infection comes along. When dealing with bladder infections, it is also crucial to remember that if the infection is treated early on, serious complications can be avoided down the line.
The NHS.uk site recommends that you try the following if you have had a bladder infection before and don’t feel you need to see a doctor, or if you have mild symptoms for less than three days.
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Don’t have sex until you’re feeling better.
You may also try cranberry juice – some people believe that it works despite there being no scientific evidence to suggest that they are effective. If you are keen to give it a go, it is vital to differentiate between 100% natural cranberry juice versus sugary flavoured ‘juice drinks’ that are easily available.
Antibiotics are usually prescribed for common bacterial bladder infections. Depending on the severity of the infection, your course of antibiotics may be as short as three days or as long as a week. It is important to complete the full course of treatment even if your symptoms disappear quickly. In addition, the type of antibiotic you require will depend on any other complications you may have, such as kidney stones, problems with the urethra, and in the case of men, an enlarged prostate. External factors, such as age, pregnancy, or allergies, can also influence the decision that your doctor will make.
Use UroShield to prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections
If you have a urinary caterer, you are more at risk of contracting a bladder infection or any other type of urinary tract infection as germs can travel along the catheter and cause an infection in your bladder or kidney. In this case, the infection is called a catheter-associated urinary tract infection (or CAUTI). To reduce this risk, we recommend using UroShield – a small device that clips onto a catheter and generates low-frequency Surface Acoustic Waves (SAWs), which vibrate the inner and outer surfaces of the catheter and prevent bacteria from forming.
UroShield is a device conveniently small in size, unobtrusive, easy to use, and ensures that the pain and discomfort associated with urinary tract infections is a thing of the past. Follow this link to find out about UroShield and how it works.
Alternatively, get in touch on 020 8773 7844 or fill out our Online Form.
If you found this interesting, take a look at:
- Going on holiday with a catheter
- Top 10 tips to help catheter users improve their mobility
- Best diet advice for patients struggling with an overactive bladder
This post is not health advice and should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. It is intended to provide information of general interest about current healthcare issues.