How to Prevent Bladder Infections
A bladder infection, or cystitis, is a bacterial infection in the bladder. This condition is sometimes referred to as a urinary tract infection, which is a broader term that covers bacterial infections found anywhere within the urinary tract, including the bladder, kidneys, urethra, and ureters.
Bladder infections are very common and usually occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiply within the bladder. Women are more likely than men to develop bladder infections because a woman’s urethra is much shorter than a man’s, and thus bacteria can reach the bladder more easily. The growing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has increased the pervasiveness of repeated, difficult-to-treat infections. While usually not dangerous, bladder infections can be painful and disruptive to daily life.
Common symptoms of bladder infections include:
- A frequent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation during urination
- The passage of only a small amount of urine despite an urge to urinate
- Urine that is cloudy, bloody, or has a strong odor
- Leaking urine
- Bladder spasms or cramping
If you experience any of these symptoms and suspect that you have a bladder infection, you should see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Left untreated, the infection can travel to the kidneys and cause more serious symptoms like fever, pain below the ribs, nausea, and vomiting. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics to treat your bladder infection, it’s very important to take the full course – even if you feel better before you finish it. Stopping the medication too soon can encourage the infection to return, and also foster the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
There are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing recurrent bladder infections, such as:
- Urinating often, emptying your bladder completely, and, for women, always wiping from front to back.
- Drinking plenty of water and other liquids to help flush bacteria out of your bladder.
- Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice daily to help prevent bacteria from attaching to your bladder and causing an infection.
- Wearing cotton underwear and loose, nonbinding clothing that does not trap heat and moisture.
- Practicing good hygiene, using unscented products, and taking showers instead of baths.
- Limiting consumption of substances that are known to irritate the bladder, such as alcohol and coffee.
To learn more, or if you would like to consult with a physician about a suspected bladder infection or for any other reason, please feel free to contact or visit the South Tampa Immediate Care walk-in clinic.