Bladder infections or cystitis can be discomforting, but they are rarely serious especially when treated promptly. Most women have dealt with one or more bladder infections at some point in their lives while men rarely fall victim to this condition. The causes, symptoms, identification, and treatment apply to both men and women. It is important to be aware of a bladder disorder because if left untreated it could potentially lead to a much more serious kidney infection.
Causes of Bladder Infections
The cause of an infection in the bladder can be blamed on a culprit behind many infections: bacteria. In particular
the bacterium mostly likely to cause this condition is E. coli. Because a woman has a shorter urethra, any bacteria will have a better chance of traveling to the bladder. The longer urethra in a man is one of the reasons that men are less prone to cystitis. The proximity of the urethra to the vagina and rectum make it easier for E. coli to infiltrate the urethra as well through wiping carelessly. It is little wonder that a bladder infection is often called “honeymoon cystitis” since it can plague so many women after sexual intercourse.
Once a bacterium has entered the bladder it can multiply more successfully if the bladder does not empty fully. This can be blamed on bladder weakness, but it may also be due to pressure against the bladder from a birth control device like a diaphragm or stool impaction from constipation. The stagnant urine that remains in the bladder becomes a hospitable breeding ground. For this reason, it is wise to never “hold it in” as this may increase the chances of getting a future infection.
Signs of a Bladder Infection
The signs and symptoms that most often manifest as a result of this infection are painful urination, frequent urination, strong-smelling urine and a sense of urgency to urinate. Having one or more of these symptoms is not necessarily an absolute indicator of an infection, but it should be ruled out. Due to the rarity of a male bladder infection, bladder pain in men should never be ignored.
Diagnosing an Infection
The single best test to provide positive identification is a urine test. The presence of white blood cells or bacteria in the urine is a sure sign of infection. A sample can be taken at home if protocol is carefully followed, but it is best to provide a clean catch sample at a doctor’s office. On the off chance a physical obstruction may be causing the problem then a cytoscope may be inserted through the urethra and into the bladder for a closer inspection.
Treating and Preventing an Infection
Plenty of water and a prescription for an antibiotic are normally all it takes to allow the bladder to rid itself of the infection. If a stone is causing a blockage then a more invasive treatment may be needed.
Knowing what causes bladder infections allows any man or woman the knowledge to help prevent them. Drinking plenty of fluids is the first step. This not only flushes the bladder continuously, but also helps the bowel stay regular. Less impaction means less pressure against the bladder and it can empty fully. Avoiding skin irritation is also important and for this reason any person with an indwelling catheter should use one that is smooth and sized to the proper fit. A silicone polished catheter in the right gauge is less likely to tear the urethra. For men, a condom catheter’s health benefits make it a smarter choice than an indwelling catheter. Another possible alternative is a penile incontinence clamp. Women prone to frequent attacks may be prescribed a mild antibiotic or cream to use during sexual activity. These are all proactive measures that can help keep a bladder healthy!