Be Watchful for Bladder Infection Symptoms & You will be Saved
Bladder infection is also known as cystitis and occurs due to an unusual bacterial growth within the urinary bladder. The urinary bladder is the organ which stores urine coming from kidneys before it is excreted from the body. Bladder infection is one of the commonest infections affecting humans; its most victims are women. About 1/3rd of woman population suffers from at least one type of bladder infections at any age during their lifetime.
Roughly bladder infections are categorized in two types – simple and complex. The simple infections catch only healthy females having a normal urinary system. Men who are overall healthy rarely catch a simple bladder infection. Therefore, men who have an abnormal urinary system catch the complex type of infection, so do the females with abnormal urinary system.
Simple Bladder Infections
Female urinary system is structured in such a way that it becomes most vulnerable to bladder infections. So, bladder infections are common in women as much as is common cold, and they are easy to treat; therefore they are called simple bladder infections. The outer opening of urethra in women is located near the opening of rectum, and so, bacteria can easily migrate in it from rectum and then can reach the bladder because female urethra is not very long (less than 2 inches or 4 cm). Bacteria can also be pushed easily from urethral opening to bladder during sexual intercourse. Another cause is wiping the organs from back to front with a single tissue paper after bowel movement. Wiping from front to back is therefore advisable.
Complex Bladder Infections
Bladder infections are classified as complex when they become difficult to treat. This happens when the urinary system is abnormal. When men suffer from bladder infections, the infections are mostly complex. Simple infections cannot attack a male urethra because it is much longer than a female urethra, and so bacteria cannot easily reach the bladder. In abnormal cases, when the urine flow is hindered or urine remains accumulated in the bladder, bacteria flourish there and chances of infections increase. A cause of urinary retention can be nerve damage (due to an injury like spinal cord injury, or a disease like diabetes). The commonest cause of hindered urine flow in men can be enlarged prostate. This condition is common at the age above 50 years. Patients having indwelled catheter (a tube permanently inserted inside urethra to facilitate excretion of urine) are at a higher risk of bladder infections because the bacteria in the urine inside the tube climb up the walls of the tube and enter the bladder.
Bladder Infection Symptoms
If the infection is simple:
- An urge to urinate more often than regular though the amount of urine passed every time may be small
- An abrupt urge to urinate
- Burning sensation, pain or other type of discomfort while urinating
- Nocturia (urge of urination at night)
- Blood in urine
- Cloudy urine which smells unpleasant or abnormally strong
- Pain in lower abdomen
The only symptom seen if a young child is caught by a bladder infection is new incidents of bedwetting.
If the infection is complex:
Symptoms of complex bladder infections are similar to those of simple infections. However additional symptoms develop too, like chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, back pain, flank pain, or even confusion if the infection spreads in the blood circulation or kidney.
Complex bladder infections take longer time of treatment than the simple ones. Even further tests may be required to study the structure and functioning of urinary system.
Firstly your doctor will inquire about your symptoms and ask if you are getting symptoms like chills, fever, back pain or flank pain and nausea and vomiting to check if the infection is serious. If you have undergone bladder infections before, the problem may be diagnosed by your doctor even over a phone, if you are not undergoing pregnancy or any vaginal discharge. But if the symptoms are not similar to your previous infection, you may need to visit the doctor’s office and also may undergo a urine analysis.
In case of all men, women suffering from bladder infection for the first time, children and all those with a potentially complex bladder infection, a visit to a doctor is a must. After checkup, you will have to sample urine for an in-office or laboratory analysis wherein it will be checked if there are any signs of active infection. If the urine sample is sent to lab, it will be tested to find the exact type of infection. Normally a special test, called sensitivity test, is also done to find out which antibiotics will root out the infection. Prior to providing the urine sample, you will have to clean the urethral opening using a sterile wipe. The sample should be collected midstream so as to avoid the possibility of its contamination with bacteria living around urethra.
The first measures to prevent bladder infection from happening are wiping from front to back instead of from back to front, and urinating immediately after a sexual intercourse. Some women with two or more infections of bladder annually need to take an antibiotic after every sexual intercourse, thrice a week or even daily to keep infection at bay. Some other measures also may help prevent cystitis such as urinating right after you feel like it and drinking ample fluids daily. Women who make use of a diaphragm as a contraceptive may have less incidents of bladder infections by switching to a different method of contraception. Some studies conclude that having cranberry juice reduces the chances of urinary tract infection.
When to Take Help of a Professional?
You should take help of your doctor when you find it painful to urinate, or if you need to go to urinate more times than usual, or if your urine contains blood or is cloudy or smells foul. Pregnant women should get their urine examined in the first trimester for any bacterial growth, even though any symptoms of cystitis are not seen.
In case of persons with risk factors for catching complex bladder infections (e.g. indwelled catheters), special care should be taken to watch for any signs of infection. Immediate medical help should be sought in case of symptoms like chills, fever, confusion, nausea-vomiting, or back/flank pain, which are signs of spread of infection to blood or kidney.
For more information, click “Bladder Infection Symptoms”.