What Causes a Bladder Infection?

What Causes a Bladder Infection?
What Causes a Bladder Infection? (Image: Scott Snyder, www.sxc.hu/profile/scottsnyde)

Bladder infections are uncomfortable and can be embarrassing. If you suffer from frequent bladder infections, you may be wondering what is causing them and what, if anything, can be done to prevent them.


Bladder infections are caused by bacteria in the bladder. Escherichia coli (E. coli) is usually the bacteria that causes a bladder infection. Bladders normally have a small amount of bacteria in them and urinating helps flush out the bacteria, but sometimes the bacteria grows so fast it causes a bladder infection.


Bladder infections can cause a frequent or urgent need to urinate. They can also cause pain, itchiness or a burning sensation during urination. Urine can smell and look different when the bladder is infected. Like other bacterial infections, a bladder infection can also cause fever, chills and fatigue.


Women are more prone to bladder infections than men. This is because the urethra, the tube that urine travels through from the bladder to exit the body, is much shorter in women than in men. This means that bacteria in the urethra of women have a greater risk of reaching the bladder and causing an infection.


A simple urine test can determine if you have a bladder infection and, if so, what treatment is necessary to cure it.


Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat your bladder infection. Once you have experienced a bladder infection, you are more likely to have one in the future than a person who has never had a bladder infection. Drinking plenty of water and keeping your genital area clean can help prevent a bladder infection. Some people find that drinking cranberry juice, which has antibiotic qualities, helps them prevent a bladder infection.


If left untreated, the bacteria causing a bladder infection can travel to the kidneys and cause a kidney infection. Kidney infections can permanently damage the kidney and lead to kidney failure and possibly death.

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