What You Need to Know About Bladder Infections

November 12, 2012

What You Need to Know About Bladder Infections

Bladder infections are painful, treatable and occur more often in women than men. It is estimated that 20% of all women in the world will suffer at least one bladder infection in their lifetimes. Medical science is not entirely sure why women are so prone to this malady but think it may be due to their anatomy, which can make it easier for bacteria to enter and breed inside of the bladder. Women have a shorter urethra than men. This means that any invading bacteria have less area to travel and encounter white blood cells before entering a woman’s bladder than a man’s. Causes Most strains of bacteria that cause bladder infections are normally found in human digestive tracts. If bacteria enter the urethra and for some reason are not killed off by a person’s immune system, they enter the bladder. There, bacteria find a perfect breeding ground. The most common cause of bacteria entering the urethra is from a person not cleaning up after themselves after they defecate. Women’s urethras are located closer to the anus than a man’s urethra which may be why women are more prone to infections. Bacteria can also begin breeding in the bladder if a person cannot always empty his or her bladder and old urine accumulates. Other known causes in women include:

  • Use of condoms by their partners

  • Use of diaphragms or other vaginally inserted contraceptives which makes it difficult for the bladder to fully empty

  • Sex with a man with an urinary tract infection

  • Pregnancy, because the fetus blocks part of the bladder, making it unable to empty completely.

In both genders, bladder infections are also the symptoms of two sexually transmitted diseases – mycoplasma and Chlamydia.

Symptoms The most common symptoms of bladder infections include:

  • Extremely painful urination, often described as burning

  • Urinating less frequently despite a constant need to urinate

  • Passing urine that is cloudy, pink, blood-streaked or smells very bad

  • Men may have pain the rectum

  • Women often get pain in the pelvis

  • Rarely people will develop a fever as their bodies try to fight off the infection.

Bladder infections should never be ignored. If left untreated, the bacteria causing the infection spread from the bladder up into the kidneys. If the kidneys become infected, they malfunction, which can potentially kill a person.

Other Causes

Both men and women that undergo extensive surgery or become paralyzed often need to use catheters in order to empty their bladders. People who use catheters become at risk to get infections of the urinary tract, including in the bladder, even if they use disposable catheters. The most common types of catheters are reusable and need to be placed in boiling water in order to be sterilized.

Older men with enlarged prostates suffer from a type of bladder infection called cystitis. Diagnosis can be particularly difficult in elderly men because the symptoms of cystitis are similar to many other health problems. There are some studies that suggest remaining uncircumcised can predispose a man to developing cystitis, but more studies need to be done to prove this.

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