Bladder Infection: Everything You Need to Know

Bladder infection, sometimes referred to as urinary tract infection, is a bacterial infection of the bladder. The urinary tract includes the urethra, ureters, kidneys, and bladder. Bladder infections, caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), are much more common in women than in men.

Causes of Bladder Infection

Bladder infections occurs when bacteria gets into the urethra (tube that carries urine out of the body), and then move into the bladder. Once the bacteria gets into the bladder, it can stick to the lining of the bladder, leading to inflammation, a condition known as cystitis. The bacteria can also move from the bladder into the kidneys, leading to kidney infection.

Symptoms of Bladder Infection

The symptoms of a bladder infection can include:

  • cloudy urine
  • blood in urine
  • urine with an offensive odor
  • pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • urgent and frequent need to urinate, often passing small quantities of urine
  • discomfort in the lower abdomen

People with kidney infections have similar symptoms, however they may also have:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever
  • back pain or pain in the side or groin

Risk Factors of Bladder Infection

A number of factors can increase the risk of getting a bladder infection. These include:

  • frequent unprotected intimacy
  • having diabetes
  • having intimacy with a new partner
  • changes in the urinary system
  • using a diaphragm for birth control
  • not urinating immediately after intimacy
  • having a bladder or kidney infection within the past 12 months

Diagnosis of Bladder Infection

To properly diagnose bladder infection, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. Then a urinalysis will be performed. This urine test checks your urine sample for presence of white blood cells and signs of inflammation, which points to an infection.

If a kidney infection is suspected, the doctor may recommend a urine culture. A urine culture helps to identify the different bacteria that may be present in a urine sample.

Treatment for Bladder Infection

Bladder infections, particularly the uncomplicated case is usually treated with a short course of antibiotics. Treatment options differ, but the following are the most common prescriptions for uncomplicated cystitis:

  • trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim) – 160-800 milligrams (mg) twice daily for 3 days
  • nitrofurantoin monohydrate – 100 mg twice daily for 5 – 7 days
  • fosfomycin trometamol – 3 grams (g) in a single dose

A 3-day course of treatment has been found to be as efficient as a 7-day course of treatment and people experienced fewer side effects. Side effects usually stem from the overgrowth of yeast, which can cause a rash and yeast vaginitis. The 3-day course is also more cost efficient than the 7-day regime.

Even if you feel better after taking medication for a few days, it is vital that you complete the full course of antibiotics in order to completely get rid of the infection. If they do not finish the whole dose, the infection may return, and it can be harder to treat.

If symptoms persist for more than 2 or 3 days after starting treatment, people should contact their doctor.

For complicated bladder infections, antibiotics may be administered for 7-14 days. Complicated infections include those that occur during pregnancy, or in people who have diabetes or a mild kidney infection. It is also recommended that men with acute urinary infections take antibiotics for 7-14 days.

Home Remedies for Bladder Infection

As a result of the rising cases of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, doctors advice women who experience regular bladder infections to use prevention approaches when possible. These strategies may include:

  • Drinking lots water and urinating immediately you have the urge
  • Urinating directly after intimate acts
  • Changing method of birth control: Bladder infections is more common in women who use diaphragm.
  • Topically applying estradiol cream if postmenopausal: Postmenopausal women may benefit from using estrogen to reduce risk of infection.
  • Drinking cranberry juice: Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements is one way to help prevent frequent bladder infections. Cranberries contain compounds known as proanthocyanidins, which helps to prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urethra and bladder, reducing the risk of infection. The recommended dose is 3 glasses of unsweetened cranberry juice daily, or 2 tablets daily, until the infection subsides.

Disclaimer: The content provided on is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.

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