A bladder infection or Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder, a part of the urinary tract. It is often referred to as a urinary tract infection or UTI. Of all the parts of the urinary tract including the kidneys, the bladder, the ureters and the urethra, the bladder is one of the most common infection spots along with the urethra. Women are at a greater risk of developing a urinary tract infection in comparison to men; however men still do get them. When the infection is limited to the bladder, it can be painful. The bladder infection itself is not inherently dangerous, but trouble comes when the infection spreads to other parts of the urinary tract. This is because kidney infections can be extremely serious when left untreated.
Bladder and urinary tract infections typically happen when bacteria enters into the urinary tract. This bacteria enters through the urethra and then multiplies when it reaches the bladder. Although the urinary system has been built to keep bacteria out, these defenses are capable of failing, which is how a bacterial infection occurs. Cystitis, an infection of the bladder, is typically caused by the E. coli or Escherichia coli bacteria. This bacteria is most commonly found within the gastrointestinal tract. Cystitis is also often caused by sexual intercourse, but women can also develop it without being sexually active.
Some of the most common risk factors for bladder infection include: being sexually active, being female, using certain forms of birth control, completing menopause, having abnormalities in the urinary tract, a suppressed immune system, urinating with a catheter and having urinary tract blockages. Urinary tract infections and bladder infections need to be treated promptly and completely in order to prevent complications. When a bladder infection is left untreated, it can lead to some serious complications including recurrent infections, birth defects and permanent kidney damage. It can also lead to acute and chronic kidney infections, especially in younger patients.
There are not always signs and symptoms of urinary tract infections when they first develop, but if they linger they can begin to show symptoms. Some symptoms associated with urinary tract infections include: bladder infections, a strong urge to urinate, burning feeling while urinating, strongly smelling urine, rectal pain, pelvic pain, cola-colored or bright pink urine, cloudy urine and passing only small amounts of urine frequently. In many situations, urinary tract infections are mistaken for other types of infections and so they can initially be overlooked. Bladder infections specifically can show unique signs and symptoms, which may include pressure in the pelvis, discomfort in the lower abdomen, painful and frequent urination and blood in the urine.
The first step in treating a bladder infection is with antibiotics. The type of drug that is prescribed and how much needs to be taken will depend on what type of bacteria is present in the bladder or urinary tract. Some of the most common drugs prescribed include: Levofloxacin, Ciprofloxacin, Ampicillin, Nitrofurantoin, Amoxicillin and Sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim. For frequent or more serious infections, longer courses of antibiotic treatments may be required. Doctors often require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics for very serious bladder infections or infections that are at a risk of spreading or have already begun to spread.