What Is a Bladder Infection?
Also known as a urinary tract infection or cystitis, a bladder infection occurs when bacteria enter the urinary tract and travel to the bladder. Typically, the one-way flow of urine prevents bacteria from invading the urinary tract and bladder. Sometimes, however, that natural barrier is not enough to prevent infection.
Women are much more likely to experience bladder infections than men, partly because of their anatomy. The urethra is shorter in women than in men, which gives bacteria an easier path to the bladder. Other risk factors for bladder infections include:
- Injury- or illness-related difficulty with emptying the bladder completely
- Kidney stones
- Personal history of bladder infections
- Sexual intercourse
- Use of a urinary catheter
- Use of diaphragms or spermicide
Bladder infections can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Abdominal and pelvic pain — Bacteria can cause inflammation of the lining of the bladder that leads to pressure or discomfort.
- Changes to the urine — Urine may be cloudy, smelly or contain blood.
- Strange sensations accompanying urination — The urge to urinate may occur more often, but, sometimes, little urine may appear. Urination may be painful or cause a burning feeling.
It is important to treat bladder infections promptly because bacteria from the bladder can infect the kidneys, potentially leading to serious health problems. Medical providers typically treat bladder infections with:
- Antibiotics — These medications attack the bacteria that cause bladder infections, and either kill them or prevent them from multiplying. Medical providers decide which antibiotic to prescribe based on several factors, including the type of bacteria causing the infection, the severity of the infection and any antibiotic allergies patients may have. Many bladder infections can be treated with 3 to 5 days of antibiotics.
- Pain medications — Prescription medications may numb the urethra and bladder to alleviate urination pain.
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If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of a bladder infection, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.
Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat bladder infections.