Bladder Infection

What is a bladder infection?

A bladder infection, also called cystitis, is a type of urinary tract infection.

How does it occur?

Bacteria are the usual cause of a bladder infection. Normally there should be no bacteria in the urinary tract. Bacteria that cause UTI often spread from the rectum or vagina to the urethra and then to the bladder.

Women are more likely to have bladder infections than men because their urethra is shorter. (The urethra is the tube that drains urine from the bladder.) The short urethra makes it easier for bacteria from the anus or genital area to reach the bladder. This can happen during sex or when you wipe after using the toilet. Young women often have bladder infections when they have just started being sexually active.

Bacteria may grow in the urine if the flow of urine is blocked. For example, when a woman is pregnant, pressure from the baby can cause this problem. In men, an enlarged prostate may cause a blockage.

What are the symptoms?

Possible symptoms of a bladder infection include:

  • urinating more often

  • feeling an urgent need to urinate

  • pain or discomfort (burning) when you urinate

  • a crampy pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen or sometimes in the lower back

  • urine that smells bad

  • urine that looks cloudy or reddish

  • leaking of urine

  • fever and sometimes chills.

How is it diagnosed?

Your Reddy Urgent Care healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. A sample of your urine will be tested for bacteria and pus. More tests may be done if you have had several infections.

When men have a bladder infection, usually more tests are done because it is less common in men. The tests check for possible causes of the infection.

How is it treated?

Bladder infection is a common problem that can usually be treated easily. Your Reddy Urgent Care healthcare provider will prescribe an antibiotic to kill bacteria and prevent the spread of infection to your kidneys.

You may also be prescribed Pyridium. This medicine helps relieve burning and discomfort. Pyridium will turn your urine orange and may stain your clothing.

If the infection is causing fever, pain, or vomiting, you may have to spend a day or two in the hospital and get antibiotics by vein (IV).

If you have infections often, you may need a follow-up visit after you have taken all of the antibiotic so another sample of your urine can be tested. This is to make sure the infection is gone.

How long will the effects last?

Prompt treatment of a bladder infection with antibiotics usually relieves the symptoms in 1 to 2 days. If your infection has been causing symptoms for several days before treatment or if you are having fever, you may need several days to feel better.

If the infection is not treated, it could spread to the kidneys, make you very sick, and permanently damage the bladder and kidneys.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Take all of the antibiotic that you’re prescribed, even when you feel better. Do not take medicine left over from previous prescriptions.

  • If your provider prescribed Pyridium, use it to feel better while you are waiting for the antibiotic to work.

  • Drink more fluids, especially water, to help flush the bacteria from your system.

  • If you have a fever:

    • o.Ask your healthcare provider if you should take aspirin or acetaminophen for the fever. Check with your healthcare provider before you give any medicine that contains aspirin or salicylates to a child or teen. This includes medicines like baby aspirin, some cold medicines, and Pepto Bismol. Children and teens who take aspirin are at risk for a serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.

  • Keep a daily record of your temperature.

  • Return to Reddy Urgent Care for a recheck if:

    • o.You keep having symptoms after taking an antibiotic for 2 days.

    • o.Your symptoms get worse.

    • o.You have a fever of 101.5° F (38.6° C) or higher.

    • o.You have new vomiting.

    • o.You have new or worsening pain in your side, back, or belly.

    • o.You have any symptoms that worry you.

How can I help prevent bladder infection?

You can help prevent bladder infection if you:

  • Drink lots of fluids every day.

  • Don’t wait to go to the bathroom when you feel the need to urinate.

  • Urinate soon after sex.

  • Keep your genital area clean. Never combine anal and vaginal intercourse.

  • Empty your bladder completely when you urinate.

Also, if you are a woman:

  • If you often have bladder infections, you may need extra tests to find out why you have so many bladder infections. Keep a journal to see if your infections are related to sexual activity. If they do tend to happen after sex, your provider may prescribe medicine for you to take after sex or every day to help prevent infection.

  • Keep the vaginal area clean. Wipe from front to back after using the toilet. Be sure to wash the genital area gently each time you bathe or shower. However, use soap only on the outside of your vagina. The chemicals in soap may cause more irritation.

  • Wear underwear that is all cotton or has a cotton crotch. Pantyhose should also have a cotton crotch. Cotton allows better air circulation than nylon. Change underwear and pantyhose every day.

  • Avoid tight clothes in the genital area, such as control-top pantyhose and tight jeans. Do not wear a wet bathing suit for long periods of time.

  • During pregnancy, tell your healthcare provider if you have a history of urinary tract problems. Your provider may order tests for bacteria in your urine to catch an infection before you have symptoms.

  • If you have stopped having your periods because of menopause and are not taking estrogen, your provider might suggest a vaginal cream. Sometimes this cream helps prevent bladder infections.

Men should always wash their penis during baths or showers. Men who are not circumcised should gently pull back the foreskin and wash the tip of the penis when they bathe.