What is a Urinary Bladder Infection?
The bladder is the site of urine storage before it is passed out of the body once the bladder is full. The bladder passes the urine through the urethra, which covers the length of the penis in males and is quite short in females. Bladder infection, also known as cystitis is a urinary tract infection (UTI) that occurs when micro-organisms invade the normally sterile bladder.
What are the Causes of the Disorder?
Most bladder infections are caused by different strains of Escherichia Coli (E. coli), a bacterium that is usually present in the GI tract. In women, the risk of bladder infection is higher because the short urethra allows bacteria to reach the bladder quickly, often after sex. Pregnant women are also prone to bladder infection because of changes in the urinary tract. Diaphragms and condoms may cause irritation and increase the chances of a bladder infection. A bladder infection in men (though rare) could be a result of urinary tract obstruction, sexually transmitted bacteria (Mycoplasma and Chlamydia) or hospital catheters.
What one needs to know about Symptoms or Signs?
Symptoms of a urinary bladder infection include:
- Burning sensation while urinating
- Frequent need to urinate
- Passing only a small amount of urine despite a strong urge
- Cloudy, smelling urine
- Fever or chill (indicate spread to kidney)
Which Specialist should be Consulted in a case of Signs and Symptoms?
In a case of above symptoms, a person must refer to a urologist or nephrologist.
What are the Screening Tests and Investigations done to Confirm or Rule out the Disorder?
A doctor will order the following studies if cystitis is suspected:
- Urine Analysis: A urine sample is taken to look for bacteria, pus or blood.
- Imaging Tests: The doctor may require an ultrasound or x-ray test result to rule out a tumour or another anomaly.
- Cystoscopy: A thin, flexible tube fitted with a camera called cystoscope is inserted through the urethra to reach the bladder or even obtain a sample for biopsy.
What Treatment Modalities are available for Management of the Disorder?
Antibiotics are the primary route of treatment for bladder infection. The type of drugs and its duration varies with the kind of bacteria and the severity of the infection. First-time infections begin to show improvement within a day of starting treatment and may require a medicine course of three days to a week. Recurrent infections may call for longer doses.
What are the Known Complications in the Management of the Disorder?
Improper diagnosis or treatment can cause the infection to spread deeper in the urinary tract and lead to a kidney infection, sepsis and pyelonephritis.
How can the Disorder be Prevented from Happening or Recurring?
Some preventive self-care measures include:
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Not delaying urination
- Wiping from front to back after urination or bowel movement to prevent spread of bacteria into the urethra
- Avoiding bath tubs and taking showers
- Urinating soon after sex