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How to Tell You Have a Bladder Infection (And What to Do About It)

How to Tell You Have a Bladder Infection (And What to Do About It)
Urinary tract infections are one of the most frequent bacterial infections we see in Urgent Care.  50-60% of women will experience a bladder infection in their lifetime. While UTIs are most common in women, men get them, too. Urinary tract and bladder infections are uncomfortable and often painful infections that need treatment as soon as possible. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about spotting and treating a bladder infection. 

Bladder Infection Symptoms 

One of the most significant indicators of a bladder infection is a burning sensation when urinating.  Other common systems to look out for include:
  • constant urge to use the bathroom (even if you’ve just gone)
  • only urinating a few drops at a time
  • leaking urine
  • cramping in your lower belly or back
  • cloudy or bloody urine
  • unusually stinky urine
You should also be on the lookout for signs that your infection has spread to your kidneys. If your infection is spreading, you may notice these symptoms:
  • fever
  • chills
  • confusion
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • flank pain
  • vomiting 
Any of the above symptoms warrant a visit to an Urgent Care center or the emergency room. They can indicate a potentially life-threatening condition like kidney disease, tumors, or a urinary tract stone. 

Prevent Bladder Infections

There are several preventative measures you can take to reduce your risk of bladder infection or other urinary tract infections:
  • Proper bathroom hygiene. Always wipe from front to back to avoid inducing feces bacteria from the anus to the urethra. 
  • Urinate after sexual intercourse. A post-sex pee can help clean bacteria from the urethra. Drinking a glass of water before or after intercourse can help clean bacteria from the urethra. 
  • Go to the bathroom when you feel the urge to pee. Allow your bladder to empty completely. 
  • Drink plenty of liquids. The more you urinate, the more you can keep your urethra clean. 
  • Avoid bubble baths and soaps with perfumes. Don’t use scented products near your urethra.
  • Choose cotton underwear. Cotton is breathable and won’t trap moisture or heat.
  • Take showers instead of baths.

What about Cranberry Juice?

There has been conflicting research and scientific opinion about the use of cranberry juice to reduce the likelihood of UTIs.  Here’s the truth: Yes, the active ingredient in cranberry juice (A-type proanthocyanidins) can reduce the incidence of bladder infections. However, most juices and supplements do not contain enough of this ingredient to be effective.  If you struggle with constant UTI’s, there is no harm in drinking pure, unsweetened cranberry juice, and cranberry supplements carry minimal risk. While they may help, do not rely on them to the exclusion of sound medical advice. 

Bladder Infection Causes

You might find yourself wondering, “How do I get a bladder infection in the first place?”  Bacteria cause bladder infections.  Bacteria can enter through your urethra and travel into the bladder. Typically, your body will remove the bacteria through urination.  However, if the bacteria attach to the walls of your bladder, they can multiply quickly. When bacteria multiply faster than your body can kill it, you will develop an infection.  There certain things you may be doing that increase your risk of developing bladder infections. Insufficient fluid intake can be a risk factor. While you’ve probably heard the 8 glasses a day rule, you may require more or less than this. Use a water calculator tool to determine how much you should be drinking every day.   Some risk factors are just out of your control, though. Females have shorter urethras than males, making them more susceptible to certain infections. Women going through menopause may also be more at risk due to declining estrogen levels. A decline in estrogen can alter vaginal pH levels, making you more susceptible to certain infections.   As men get older, their prostate can enlarge. Enlarged prostates may cause urine flow blockages, leading to bladder infections.  People who use urinary devices like catheters are also at higher risk.  Some chronic illnesses can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections. Illnesses such as HIV and diabetes are common culprits that can increase your risk of developing a bladder infection. 

Bladder Infection Treatment

There are several things your doctor will do to determine if you have a bladder infection.  First, they’ll perform a physical examination and ask you to go into more detail about your symptoms. Often, a clear description of your symptoms and when they started might be enough to determine if you have a bladder infection.  If not, your clinician may request a urinalysis. This test will look for things in your urine that shouldn’t be there like blood or pus. Your doctor may also call for a urine culture to determine what bacteria are causing the infection. The culture will help your doctor prescribe the right antibiotic to treat your illness. Depending on where you go for medical treatment, a urinalysis may involve a trip to another lab or waiting several days before you get a result. CityHealth Urgent Care has fully equipped labs on-site, meaning you get your results, and your treatment, xfaster.  While very common, bladder infections can become dangerous if not treated fast enough. In most cases, you won’t need to go to the emergency room, but an Urgent Care clinic instead.  Bladder infections can be finicky, and sometimes the first course of treatment will not fix the problem. If this is the case, your clinician may change your dosage or change the antibiotic altogether. If you’ve finished your medication and the symptoms have not gone away, you need to go back to your doctor. It’s crucial to take your medication exactly as prescribed. A minor infection can turn serious, or even deadly if you don’t follow your doctor’s instructions.  Bladder infections can sometimes spread to other areas of your body. If this happens, you may need a different antibiotic or even IV treatment in the hospital. While not common, this happens most often in those with weaker immune systems or those who put off seeking medical treatment.

Bladder Infection Relief at Home 

After you have received a prescription for your bladder infection, it may take a few days to work. Here are a few things you can do at home to provide relief while your body fights the infection:
  • Use a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower abdomen to minimize pain.
  • Drink a lot of fluids to stay hydrated. 
  • Stay away from coffee, alcohol, and soda until your infection is gone. These beverages can cause bladder irritation. 

Treat Your Bladder Infection Today

Seeking treatment fast is the key to finding relief from your bladder infection. At CityHealth Urgent Care, our team of doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners are more than happy to help you. If you think you might have a bladder infection or other UTI, you can walk in, schedule an appointment or book a virtual visit with our team so you can start feeling like yourself again soon!
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