The human urinary system is composed of the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder, and the urethra. Any of these urinary structures can become infected with bacteria, although the most commonly infected are the structures of the lower urinary tract, particularly the bladder.
Infection of the bladder is medically known as cystitis. However, some people also use the term UTI to refer to the condition.
What is a bladder infection and what are some of the things that you should know about it?
Bladder infection is a kind of urinary tract infection that affects approximately 20 to 40 percent of women. Men do not suffer from this infection that much, although they do suffer from other kinds of UTI which have similar symptoms to cystitis. Men who get cystitis usually get the condition after age 50, where it is closely linked to prostate problems. It is believed that the shorter urethra of women make it easier for pathogenic microorganisms to reach the bladder, making them more susceptible to bladder infection.
When you ask your doctor the question “What is bladder infection”, the bacteria known as Escherichia coli will more or less be a part of the answer. Escherichia coli or E. coli, which is a species of bacteria typically found in the genital area, is the most common cause of bladder infection. E. coli enters the urinary tract via the urethra and travel upward, causing infection in the bladder. A new strain of drug-resistant E. coli is thought to be the cause of recurrent, hard-to-treat cystitis in women.
Holding the urine or waiting too long to urinate is another common cause of cystitis. The bladder is composed of muscles that stretch to hold urine and contract when the urine is excreted. Holding urine for extended periods can cause the bladder to stretch more than its capacity. This habit can weaken the muscles of the bladder which, in turn, can make the bladder less able to empty completely. Because of this, some urine remain in the bladder, which raises the risk of UTI or bladder infections.
Contraceptives such as diaphragms and spermicides are also associated with increased risk of bladder infection. Women who use these birth control items are advised to use vaginal lubricants and to empty the bladder immediately after sexual activity. Vaginal douches are not recommended as these may also contribute to infection.
Symptoms of cystitis are difficult to miss and once diagnosed, the large majority of cystitis cases are easy to treat.
The main symptoms of cystitis are: burning and stinging sensation when urinating, frequent urinating, cloudy urine, urine that smells bad, the frequent urge to urinate, low back pain, and inability to control urination (incontinence). A lot of women also experience lower pelvic pain or see blood in their urine.
There are several things that have been shown to improve the condition and prevent the recurrence of infection. Immediately answering the urge to urinate and drinking plenty of fluids help flush out bacteria in the bladder. Eating yogurt that contains live cultures is also known to help improve the condition. Acidification of urine with Vitamin C-containing juices, especially cranberry juices, also helps in faster recovery.
Treating bladder infection quickly is extremely important. The sooner it is treated, the better the outcome is. Treating the infection before the bacteria can have the opportunity to multiply means that you get rid of the disease faster and it is less likely to ascend to the kidneys or recur. The first defense against cystitis is antibiotic treatment. The doctor will usually prescribe a 5- to 7-day antibiotic therapy; this could be prolonged depending on the how severe the infection is.
Now that you know the answer to the question “What is bladder infection”, it should be easier for you to recognize the signs and symptoms of the disease and take appropriate steps to eliminate it and prevent recurrence. Again, bladder infection is also commonly known as cystitis or UTI. It occurs when the bacteria in the genital areas ascend to the urethra and reach the bladder where they multiply. Bladder infection is usually mild in nature; but, if left untreated for too long, can cause more serious complications.