Bladder infections are otherwise known as cystitis. Cystitis is a subset of a broader group of infections known as urinary tract infections which are infections that occur anywhere along the urinary tract from the kidneys down to the urethra. Bladder infections may occur suddenly (acute) or recur over time (chronic). However, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent possible spread to the kidneys which leads to pyelonephritis, a more severe form of UTI.
Highlighted in this article are answers to salient questions you may have as far as bladder infections are concerned.
1. What causes bladder infections?
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases (NIDDK) discovered that bladder infections are mostly caused by Escherichia coli. These bacteria may travel into the bladder through the urethra. If a person holds urine for long, they may attach to the walls of the bladder and multiply quickly leading to cystitis.
2. Who is at risk of a bladder infection?
Although anyone can be affected, research has shown that women are more prone possibly because of their shorter urethra which makes it easier for bacteria to easily ascend into the bladder. Unfortunately, this is even more likely in women who wipe their genital region from back to front after making use of the toilet. Furthermore, other factors which may increase a person’s risk include advanced age, insufficient fluid intake, pregnancy, immobility, diabetes, urinary catheterisation and urine retention from any cause.
3. What are the symptoms of a bladder infection?
Depending on the severity, a bladder infection may manifest in various ways including passage of cloudy or bloody urine, frequency (urinating more often than usual), pain or burning sensation during urination, urgency (inability to control the urge to urinate). Also, a foul-smelling urine is highly suggestive of a urinary tract infection. Sometimes, a bladder infection may lead to pain in the lower abdomen or back as well as loin pain if the infection has spread to the kidneys.
4. How can one diagnose a bladder infection?
Basically, a bladder infection can be diagnosed by performing a urinalysis to examine the urine for the presence of white or red blood cells, bacteria or nitrites. Furthermore, a microscopy/culture/sensitivity test may be carried out on the urine sample to determine the specific organism responsible for the infection as well as the most suitable antibiotics for treatment.
5. How is a bladder infection treated?
There are good antibiotics effective for treatment of bladder infections. These help to kill the bacteria while analgesics help to relieve the pain or burning sensation associated with the infection. Examples of such antibiotics include nitrofurantoin, cotrimoxazole and ciprofloxacin among others, depending on the outcome of the sensitivity test. Furthermore, studies have also shown that drinking plenty of fluids, especially water can help flush the bacteria out of the bladder while vitamin C (ascorbic acid) tablets or cranberry juice may acidify the urine and kill bacteria.
6. How can one prevent bladder infections?
In preventing bladder infections, the role of lifestyle changes cannot be overstressed as they help cut down your risk of a bladder infection. For instance, ensure you drink at least 6 – 8 glasses of water a day for good hydration and avoid holding urine for too long. In other words, urinate as soon as you feel the need.
Furthermore, ladies should avoid douching and wipe their genitals clean from front to back after defaecating. This is to avoid transferring bacteria from the anus to the bladder through the urethra.
In conclusion, cotton underwears are preferred to nylon materials and ensure you change your underwear daily.