A bladder infection is also known as a urinary tract infection (UTI) or cystitis. It is caused by bacteria entering the urethra (usually from the anus) and traveling up the urinary tract. Though they are commonly called bladder infections, UTIs can occur anywhere along the urinary tract. When left untreated, they can cause kidney infections.
Women are much more susceptible to cystitis than men are. That is because women's urethras are shorter and closer to the anus. Inflammation and infection in the urinary tract is often painful, but it is not life threatening. Most often cystitis is treated with antibiotics or alternative medicines. Symptoms of bladder infections vary from person to person. You might have pain in your lower pelvis and pain or burning during urination. You might have a frequent and urgent need to urinate, but not be able to pass much urine. Your urine may be cloudy, foul smelling, or have blood in it.
To diagnose a bladder infection, your doctor will usually perform a urinalysis. The presence of white blood cells indicates infection. Mild cases of cystitis may resolve on their own. More severe cases, however, usually respond require treatment. Chronic bladder infections can lead to kidney damage.
You can help prevent bladder infections. After urinating, women should always wipe from front to back. Drink plenty of water every day. Urinate before and after sexual intercourse. Also, avoid drinking fluids containing ingredients that can irritate the bladder, such as caffeine and alcohol.
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