A bladder infection is the most common urinary tract infection. In most cases, bacteria is responsible for the infection and can reach the ureter through the bladder. Burning while urinating and a more frequent urge to urinate are typical symptoms of a bladder infection. A bladder infection can usually be healed easily and antibiotics must only be administered for complicated cases.
Bladder or urinary traction infections are among the most common infections suffered by human beings. In the majority of cases, intestinal bacteria (E-coli) are responsible. They reach the bladder through the urethra. Women are affected by this infection far more frequently than men because their urethra is shorter than that of men and the exit of the urethra is situated closer to the rectum. An infection of the urethra or the bladder is known as a lower urinary tract infection. If the infection goes further through the urinary tract into the renal pelvis, this is known as an upper urinary tract infection. The upper urinary traction infection is outlined in the pyelitis section.
The following factors can facilitate the development of a bladder infection:
- Bladder stones
- Diabetes mellitus
- Excessive intimate hygiene (overly frequent washing with soap, disinfectant)
- Wiping after a bowel movement from back to front
- Delaying urination despite the urge to urinate
Typical symptoms during an uncomplicated bladder infection are burning during urination, a stronger and more frequent urge to urinate and a weakened urine flow. Sometimes these symptoms are accompanied by pain in the lower abdomen or blood in the urine.
Fever, shivering and severe pain in the lower abdomen are signs of a complicated bladder infection involving the renal pelvis (pyelitis).
A bladder infection is diagnosed on the basis of the typical symptoms and with a urine examination. Signs of infection can be detected in the urine.
Nowadays, an uncomplicated bladder infection is usually no longer treated with antibiotics to prevent the development of antibiotic resistance. It normally heals within a few days with supportive measures such drinking a lot of fluid (bladder tea) and anti-inflammatory medication. Antibiotics are only used during complicated courses or during chronic infections.
You can prevent a bladder infection by drinking sufficient fluid (at least 1.5 to 2 litres per day) and avoiding the risk factors mentioned above where possible.