A bladder infection is a common term for a urinary tract infection, or UTI. A kidney infection is also a UTI, but bladder infections happen more frequently than kidney infections, and are less dangerous. Kidney infections, if not treated, can eventually cause to kidney damage and even kidney failure, which is a life-threatening medical emergency.
A bladder infection can also be known as cystitis. Simply put, cystitis is an inflammation inside the bladder.
A bladder infection grows when bacteria finds its way into the urinary tract. Most people think there’s already a lot of bacteria in the urinary tract, but actually there isn’t. While bladder collects a variety of waste materials and salts, but normally there’s no bacteria in it.
However, there are times when bacteria can infiltrate the bladder. When this happens, they are able to multiply, and before long, an infection is underway.
The variety of bacteria that results in 80 percent of bladder infections is called Escherichia coli, or E. coli. It comes from a number of/several places, but in the case of most bladder infections, it originates in the skin around the anus and in the areas around the vagina in women.
When bacteria migrates from the anus, or from an outside source, into the urethra (the narrow canal that urine passes through during urination), they can then get into the bladder. Since this is more likely to occur with women, more women have bladder infections than men. Some women get repeated infections, and approximately half of all women will have at least one urinary tract infection during their lifetime.
Tight fitting clothing can also help force bacteria up the urethra.
Bladder infections are usually easy to diagnose because the symptoms are generally obvious. You feel an urgent need to to urinate, even though your trips to the bathroom produce little in the way of results. A burning sensation is also typical while you’re urinating (this burning sensation is called dysuria).
Someone with a bladder infection also feels the need to urinate often. Cloudy, dark or bloody urine is likely, and it will often be accompanied by an unpleasant smell.
There may also be bladder spasms and a slight fever.
Because of the unpleasant symptoms that you have during a bladder infection (especially the burning sensation), you might be tempted to drink less water or liquid because you don’t want to urinate as much. However, doctors recommend against this thinking and say that you should drink plenty of water because it helps flush germs out of your urinary tract. Your doctor may also suggest that you drink certain juices or take vitamin C.
A bladder infection can be decidedly uncomfortable, but it is usually fairly simple to treat with antibiotics that reduce the symptoms. In many cases, a bladder infection will go away on its own after a few days (although it will make you miserable in the meantime). Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor because the symptoms of a bladder infection and a kidney infection are very close. As mentioned above, a kidney infection is a serious condition that can have dire, long term health consequences. It’s better to be safe and let your doctor decide the appropriate way to treat your problem.
Neal Kennedy is a retired radio and television journalist who often writes on topics related to health and fitness. To read more of his articles, click on bladder infection causes and symptoms or Bladder Problems at http://www.bladder-problems.info.