A women’s urethra, the tube through which urine leaves your body, is much shorter than a man’s urethra which makes your bladder more accessible to bacteria. That’s why bladder infections are more prevalent in women than men.
The medical term for a bladder infection is called cystitis, which is caused by the growth of bacteria inside the bladder that holds your urine. The bacteria causes swelling and inflammation of the bladder and the urethra. When the infection extends beyond the bladder, which it often does, it is often called a urinary tract infection or UTI.
Bladder infections can be quite uncomfortable and symptoms are usually easy to identify, especially if you’ve had bladder infections in the past.
Symptoms of a Bladder Infection
- Feeling like you need to urinate, even when your bladder is empty
- Feeling like you need to urinate, but you are unable to empty your bladder completely
- Frequent urination, even during the night
- Pain or burning during urination
- Cramps or pressure in your lower abdomen or lower back
- Blood in your urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Cloudy urine
- Fever (complicated bladder infection)
- Cramps (complicated bladder infection)
- Nausea (complicated bladder infection)
If your bladder infection goes untreated a simple infection can become more complicated if the bacteria spreads to your kidneys and/or into your bloodstream. If this happens you will likely have a fever and experienced cramps and nausea.
Complicated bladder infections are harder to treat than simple bladder infections. So if you suspect you have a bladder infection you should see a gynecologist immediately for treatment.
How To Treat A Bladder Infection
Most bladder infections are treated with medication to kill the bacteria that have made a home in your bladder. Antibiotics usually do the trick.
For stubborn infections, larger doses of antibiotics may be needed.
If you have repeat infections your gyno may suggest you see a urologist to make sure you do not have urologic abnormalities which could be the cause of your frequent bladder infections.
How to Prevent Bladder Infections
- Drink excess amounts of cranberry juice to increase the acid levels
- Wipe front to back to prevent bacteria that may enter
- Go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to urinate
- Use a diaphragm for contraception
- Practice good hygiene before and after sex
- Urinate before and after sex to wash the urethra of bacteria
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting pants, wear cotton panties
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