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How to Stop a Bladder Infection

by Barbara Bryant
  • Overview

    Bladder infections occur most frequently in women and can become chronic. They occur less often in men but tend to be more serious when they do. Treatment with antibiotics usually kills the infection. To reduce the risk of infection, practice good hygiene and avoid inserting anything that could contain bacteria or irritate the bladder.
  • Identification, Treatment & Prevention

 
  • Step 1

    Understand the causes. Bladder infections, which doctors call cystitis, are typically an immune response to bacteria in the urinary tract and also are called urinary tract infections. But inflammation also can be a side effect of certain drugs or a reaction to ingredients in feminine hygiene sprays or spermicidal jellies. Women are more likely than men to develop bladder infections, but bladder infections in men often become severe and hard to treat, in part because the bacteria can become deeply embedded in the prostate.
  • Step 2

    Recognize the symptoms. A bladder infection causes a burning feeling during urination and frequent urges to urinate, even when the bladder is empty. It often also causes back and/or abdominal pain; cloudy, dark bloody or foul-smelling urine; and fever or chills.
  • Step 3

    Get treatment. Doctors typically prescribe antibiotics to be taken for at least three to seven days to kill the bacteria that's causing the infection. The specific antibiotic ordered depends on the type of bacteria that's in the bladder. Chronic infection might require a referral to a urologist.
  • Step 4

    Avoid reinfection. Staying hydrated, practicing good hygiene and emptying the bladder after having sex reduces the likelihood that bacteria will infiltrate. Avoid use of a diaphragm or spermicide for birth control and use non-scented feminine hygiene products to prevent irritation that can cause symptoms.
  • Step 5

    Drinking cranberry juice, which is high in acidic vitamin C, can help prevent these infections by hindering bacteria growth; it also makes the bladder wall slippery, making it hard for bacteria to cling to it. Although there is disagreement among doctors over whether cranberry juice can prevent infection, an article on the "Patient UK" Web site described a study of women with chronic bladder infections that showed daily doses of cranberry juice reduced the recurrence by 20 percent.
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  • Access to a physician Knowledge of good hygiene practices
  • Access to a physician
  • Knowledge of good hygiene practices
  • Another type of inflammation, interstitial cystitis, is a chronic irritation of the bladder's mucosa and muscular tissue that reduces its ability to hold urine. It's not clear what causes this condition. Treatments include injecting medication into the bladder, surgery or distension to increase bladder capacity, or nerve stimulation to ease pelvic pain and reduce discomfort.
  • Another type of inflammation, interstitial cystitis, is a chronic irritation of the bladder's mucosa and muscular tissue that reduces its ability to hold urine. It's not clear what causes this condition. Treatments include injecting medication into the bladder, surgery or distension to increase bladder capacity, or nerve stimulation to ease pelvic pain and reduce discomfort.
  • If left untreated, bladder infections can spread to the kidneys, which can cause kidney damage and even death.
  • If left untreated, bladder infections can spread to the kidneys, which can cause kidney damage and even death.

References & Resources