A bladder infection, also known as cystitis, is caused by bacteria in the bladder. Cystitis is more prevalent in women then in men. This is more notable during the years of a women’s reproductive cycle. Women are more apt to have a bladder infection due to their shortened urethral length and also because of the close proximity of the urethra to the vaginal and anal regions where bacteria are most likely to be noted.
It is not uncommon for a woman to have recurrent episodes of a bladder infection. The motions during sexual intercourse can also precipitate a bladder infection due to the carrying of bacteria from one area to another. Bladder infections are even more likely during pregnancy due to difficulty to empty the bladder sufficiently.
Sometimes the usage of a diaphragm upsets the normal bacteria of the vagina and this will also result in excessive bacteria in the vagina. During menopause a women’s estrogen normally decreases. This decreasing level of estrogen causes the thinning of the tissue surrounding the vagina and vulva that occurs close to the urethra. This can also precipitate a bladder infection. A prolapsed uterus or bladder will drop causing the bladder to empty poorly and this can also cause a bladder infection.
This is not usually a problem unless a woman has had several births. A vesicovaginal fistula, which is a dysfunctional connection between the bladder and the vagina, although rare, can also be a culprit in the presence of a bladder infection.
Men can also get a bladder infection although this is not a common occurrence for them. Bacteria in the prostate are usually the cause of their bladder infections. Antibiotics are used in both men and women when a bladder infection occurs, but a man requires a longer duration of antibiotic therapy due to the difficulty of the antibiotic to reach the prostate area. There are other causes in both men and women that can trigger a bladder infection.
Symptoms of a bladder infection are frequency, urgency, burning, and discomfort upon urination. There is pain bordering above the pubic bone and more commonly lower back pain is noted. Urinating at night is also a common complaint of a bladder infection. Cloudy or a blood-tinged urine may also be seen, but this is a less common symptom.
Diagnosis of a bladder infection is done by evaluating the urine of the patient. This test is quick, simple, and easy and can be done in a matter of minutes. Additionally, a urine specimen can be observed under a microscope. It can then be determined as to what bacteria are present. Other means of diagnosis to further find the underlying culprit are done through x-rays, radiopaque dyes, and scopes.
The symptoms of a bladder infection can diminish on their own or the bacteria can travel up to the kidney and cause a more severe infection. However, treatment for cystitis is antibiotics. In severe cases where an obstruction is indicated surgery will be necessary.
University of maryland medical Center: Urinary Tract Infection
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Informtion Clearinghouse: Urinary Tract Infection
MayoClinic: Urinary Tract Infections
Clinical Infectious Diseases: Candida Urinary Tract Infections
American Family PHysicians: Diagnosis and Treatment of Uriniary Tract Infections in Children
American Family Physicians: Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
KidsHealth: Urinary Tract Infections