Bladder infections (also known as urinary tract infections or cystitis) are very common and most people will experience at least one in their lifetime. Although bladder infections are not serious, they can be painful and inconvenient. If left untreated, these minor infections can lead to more serious infections that cause irreparable damage in the kidneys. Treatment is generally done through one of several brands of antibiotics, depending on the seriousness of the infection. The antibiotics can normally cure a bladder infection within two weeks or so.
A bladder infection is an inflammation of your body's urine-producing system. Bladder infections normally affect your bladder or your urethra but can also spread to the kidneys if left untreated. As a rule, the higher up the infection has traveled, the more serious it has become. Kidney infections usually require hospitalization and may do irreparable damage to your renal system.
Bladder infections occur when bacteria finds its way from the intestinal tract into the urinary system. Once inside, the bacteria multiply, causing pain and irritation. There are several ways for the bacteria to get inside your urinary tract. You can get bacteria through normal sexual intercourse because the urethra is so close to the anal area. Pregnant women are especially prone to bladder infections because an enlarged uterus blocking the urinary passage could prevent urine from being emptied from the bladder. The urine sits in the bladder, providing a breeding ground for bacteria and infection.
The first sign of a bladder infection is often dysuria, a painful burning sensation when urinating. The burning comes from an irritated urethra, the tube through which urine is passed from the body. Other symptoms of a bladder infection include an increased need to urinate or a sudden difficulty urinating. You may also experience intense cramps in your lower back or lower abdomen. Bloody, cloudy or smelly urine also indicates that something may be wrong. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your physician immediately for a diagnosis.
Most physicians will treat a bladder infection with a course of antibiotics. Uncomplicated bladder infections may be treated with Bactrim, Ciprofloxacin or Augmentin. Bladder infections with obstructions are more complicated and may be treated with Ampicillin, Impipenem or Piperacillin/tazobactam.
Most antibiotics will be prescribed for a week to 10 days but there are some that work in one to three days. Short-term treatments are usually reserved for women because men tend to respond better to long-term treatment. You should always take antibiotics for the entire time your physician prescribes, even if your symptoms start to disappear. Always consult your physician before taking any prescription medication and follow his instructions.
You can avoid bladder infections or speed recovery by drinking lots of water to flush the bacteria from your urinary tract. You can also fight off all types of infection by taking a daily multivitamin that contains vitamin C and zinc. Cranberries and other foods with high concentrations of antioxidants also prevent bacteria from attaching to the walls of the bladder and urethra. The bacteria are then flushed out of the urinary system with lots of fluids.
Always wipe front to back after a bowel movement to prevent bacteria from finding its way into your urinary tract. Clean your genitals thoroughly with warm water and mild soap at least once a day and after sexual intercourse. Also, urinate as soon as you feel the need to avoid a buildup of urine in your bladder.