Urinary tract infection (UTI) can be in any part of the urinary tract – The urethra, the bladder, the ureters and the kidneys. Of these, the most common infections occur in the bladder. Bladder infections are also known as cystitis, which literally means an inflammation of the bladder.
Some people are more likely than others to get bladder infections. Women tend to get them more often than men due to their urethra being shorter and closer to the anus. Among the women most likely to get bladder infections are women who are pregnant, going through menopause and using a diaphragm for birth control. Men who have prostate inflammation or enlargement will also be more likely to have bladder infections. Risk factors that apply to both men and women are; kidney stones, sexual intercourse with multiple partners, narrowed urethra, immobility such as recovering from hip fracture, not drinking enough fluids, bowel incontinence and catheterization. Elderly people and people with diabetes are also at higher risk of bladder infections.
Children can also be at risk for bladder infections. They are most common in boys before the first birthday and among uncircumcised boys. Girls are most likely to get bladder infections at around three years old when toilet training is usually in progress. Children under five years old who have bladder infections will need follow-up care to prevent later kidney damage.
The symptoms of a bladder infection are varied. A person can have any or all of them. Young children may have only a fever or no symptoms at all. For adults, the symptoms can include; pressure in the lower pelvis, pain or burning with urination, frequent or urgent need to urinate, need to urinate at night, cloudy urine, blood in the urine, foul or strong urine odor, painful sexual intercourse, penis pain, flank pain, vomiting, fever and chills and mental changes or confusion.
Bacteria entering the urethra cause bladder infections. The bacteria, more often than not, come from the anus. In some children, an abnormality in the anatomy of the urinary tract contributes to frequent infections.
Sometimes, a mild bladder infection will clear up on its own. Antibiotics are usually recommended, though, because there is a risk of the infection spreading to the kidneys. In order to protect their developing kidneys, children should be treated promptly with antibiotics. Elderly people should also be treated with antibiotics as soon as possible. If prompt treatment is not started, there is a greater chance of fatal complications.
There are many antibiotics that can be used to treat a bladder infection. They are: Nitrofurantoin, Cephalosporins, Sulfa drugs, Amoxicillin, Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, Doxycycline and Quinolones.
The last two should not be used in children. Women who are not elderly usually only need three days of antibiotics. No matter how many doses are prescribed, the full course of antibiotics must be taken or the infection could return and be harder to clear up. A severe bladder infection may require hospitalization to re-hydrate and receive antibiotics intravenously.
Bladder infections can usually be prevented. By following these suggestions, bladder infection can be prevented or the frequency reduced. Keep your genital area clean and wipe from front to back. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid fluids that irritate the bladder, like alcohol and caffeine. Drink cranberry juice unless you have a family history of kidney stones. Wear cotton or some other breathable cloth underwear. Do not douche or use similar feminine hygiene products. Urinate soon after sexual intercourse.
The information presented here should not be taken as medical advice. If you need more information, please consult a qualified physician.
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