Bladder Infection

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A bladder infection is a type of urinary tract infection. The term UTI is a broad category that encompasses infections anywhere in the urinary tract, which include the kidneys and ureter (upper urinary tract) and bladder and urethra (lower urinary tract). A bladder infection, also known as cystitis, specifically refers to an infection localized in the bladder, causing it to swell and become irritated.

How Do I Know if I Have a Bladder Infection?

Most often, bladder infections are caused by the Escherichia coli bacteria, also known as E. coli. You may have an infection if you are experiencing these symptoms:

  • Frequent and urgent need to urinate or urinary incontinence
  • Painful urination (may be the most common symptom)
  • Cloudy or strong-smelling urine
  • Pelvic discomfort or pressure
  • In older people, prolonged tiredness or mental confusion
  • In younger people, accidental daytime wetting or a decline in appetite, as well as vomiting

While lower urinary tract infection home test kits are available, they may not be as accurate as those performed by your medical provider.

Norton Now includes same-day care options so you can get the care you need, when you need it and where you need it. Norton Community Medical Associates primary care offices are located across the Louisville and Southern Indiana area. Save your spot in line at a Norton Immediate Care Center or visit a Norton Prompt Care clinic for treatment of minor injuries or illnesses.

Use Norton eCare video visits or just answer a few questions online from anywhere in Kentucky or Indiana for care without coming into the office. Your provider can order drive-thru lab testing for you at Norton Healthcare Express Services if it’s needed.

About half of women will have at least one UTI in their lifetime. Around 27% of those will have recurrent UTI, defined as more than two infections in a six-month period or three infections in a year. Kidney stone or UTI symptoms are often are distinguished by the type of pain. UTI pain in women typically starts in the lower abdomen around the pubic bone. Kidney stone pain tends to be more in the back or side of your lower torso.

Causes and Prevention

Your age, habits and health conditions can make a bladder infection more likely to occur, including being female. Women are 30 times more likely than men to get an infection due to a shorter urethra and the proximity of the bowel, urethra and bladder. This increases the chances for bacteria from the bowel to reach the bladder.

That’s why it’s important to practice good hygiene, including wiping from back to front after you use the toilet and urinating after sex.

Women’s UTIs often can be evaluated and treated via telehealth. Men on the other hand, may have a more serious underlying cause and need to be seen in person.

For men, a prostate infection is usually the cause of a bladder infection. Blockages such as a bladder stone or an enlarged prostate can prevent the bladder from completely emptying, and that can cause infection.

After menopause, women have less of the hormone estrogen. This causes the lining of the urethra to get thinner and can change the balance of bacteria in the vagina. If you’re experiencing pelvic pressure, increased pain as your bladder fills and bladder pain that comes and goes, you may want to reach out to our urogynecology team. The cause of bladder pain is often unknown, yet treatment options are designed to help women manage symptoms.

In general, you can help prevent bladder infections by:

  • Taking showers instead of baths.
  • Staying well hydrated.
  • Minimizing douching, sprays and powders in the genital area.
  • Urinating after sexual intercourse or any sexual activity
  • Teaching girls to wipe from front to back when potty training.

If a bladder infection isn’t treated, it can lead to a kidney infection. If you have a kidney infection, we will provide treatment to relieve your symptoms and help prevent complications. A kidney infection can lead to kidney scarring and chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, blood poisoning that spreads bacteria through the circulatory system, and pregnancy complications.

Our team routinely tests pregnant patients for bacteria in their urine, because bladder infections during pregnancy are more likely to become a kidney infection.

if you are prescribed an antibiotic for any infection, take them precisely as directed and finish the full course, even if your symptoms have eased.

Bladder Infection Treatment

A bladder infection usually can be treated with a combination of an antibiotics and home treatment, including drinking a lot of water and urinating often. The severity of your infection will guide which specific antibiotic your medical provider prescribes. With any antibiotic, make sure to take the full course of treatment to make sure the bacteria is wiped out and to reduce risk of recurrence.

Staying hydrated helps flush bacteria out of your urinary system and encourages frequent urination, which helps eliminate bacteria.

A heating pad or hot water bottle against your lower abdomen can relieve pain and discomfort. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help ease pain.

Caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods and carbonated drinks can irritate the urinary tract and bladder, adding to discomfort, so avoiding them can prevent pain from worsening.

Consult your health care provider if you think you have a bladder infection or other urinary tract infection. Home remedies for a bladder infection are unlikely to be effective and could lead to more serious complications. For women, a remote visit such as Norton eCare is often enough to evaluate the severity of your infection and prescribe an antibiotic if appropriate.

Recurrent urinary tract infection — two infections in a six-month period or three infections in a year — may require diagnostic tests such as a urine culture or referral to a urogynecologist.

Diagnosing and treating a bladder infection yourself risks overlooking other health issues that can be related.

Norton Now: Care When You Need It

  • Get medical care when and where it works for you.
    • Norton Community Medical Associates primary care is your medical home. More than 35 locations across the Louisville area and Southern Indiana means there’s an office close to home, work or school. Your primary care physician knows you and your health and performs annual checkups to stay ahead of any emerging conditions. Our doctors and nurse practitioners connect you to the full Norton Healthcare system, giving you and your family easy access to the area’s leading specialty physicians.
    • More than 15 Norton Immediate Care Centers offer treatment for minor illnesses and injuries. Reserve your spot in line and we’ll text you when it’s time to check in. All Norton Immediate Care Centers are equipped with X-ray machines.
    • Norton Prompt Care clinics have same-day appointments available when you need care for yourself or your family. All locations offer extended weekday and weekend hours. Many are located within Walgreens stores.
    • Norton eCare allows you to visit with a provider via secure video or by simply answering questions online about your symptoms.
    • Emergency care is available for a very serious illness or injury that puts your life in danger. Get treatment 24/7 at nine locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana, including three locations for kids.
  • Medicaid, Medicare and most major commercial insurance plans are accepted.
  • Get test results, renew prescriptions, communicate with your health care provider, get notified if an earlier appointment becomes available and more with your free Norton MyChart account.

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