An Overview of Bladder Infection

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A bladder infection—which is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI)—occurs when bacteria multiply in the bladder. While prescription antibiotics are the only proven way to cure a UTI, there are important at-home strategies you should use to help clear your infection and ease discomfort. Self-care can also help prevent you from getting bladder infections in the future.

bladder infection symptoms treatment
Illustration by Brianna Gilmartin, Verywell 

Symptoms

The symptoms that typically accompany a bladder infection include:

  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Sharp pain or burning sensation in the urethra during urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Soreness in the lower abdomen, back, or sides

Diagnosis

When you have symptoms of a bladder infection, you should call your doctor. While the majority of UTIs are not serious, they don't resolve on their own and can cause complications, such as a kidney infection. A urine dipstick test, microscopy, and culture may be done to confirm you have a UTI.

Treatment

If you are diagnosed with a UTI, your doctor will probably prescribe antibiotic treatment. The patient information that comes with your antibiotic will be helpful. More specifically, there may be foods or drinks that you need to avoid, depending on the drug you are prescribed.

Also, be aware that some antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. So, be sure to use other contraceptive methods if you need to.

For effective treatment of a UTI, you have to take your complete course of antibiotics.

Many people want to stop taking their medications once their symptoms resolve, but the full prescription is needed to ensure complete resolution of the infection, even if you are symptom-free. A urine test may be ordered about a week after completing treatment to confirm that the infection is gone.

Self-Care

Antibiotics are needed to eliminate the infection, but there are some things you should also do at home to help alleviate your symptoms, to make sure the infection resolves, and to prevent a relapse. While you are taking antibiotics, it is important to follow a routine of self-care.

  • Drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of liquid a day (water is preferred) to help clear the infection and prevent future UTIs.
  • A heating pad can help relieve the pain. You can place it on your back or stomach, using a blanket or towel to protect your skin.
  • Try an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment like Azo-Standard, for example, to relieve the pain and urinary urgency associated with your UTI. Azo-Standard does not, however, cure the underlying infection.

You will probably be advised to drink cranberry juice or take cranberry herbal supplements to treat a bladder infection. This at-home cure has not been proven to cure a bladder infection.

Prevention

There are a number of things you can do to lower your chances of getting another bladder infection. If you are prone to recurrent UTIs, you should make these preventative strategies a habit.

  • Drink plenty of water every day so that any bacteria in your bladder will be diluted with fluid.
  • You can keep bacteria flushed out of your bladder by urinating as soon as you feel the need rather than waiting.
  • Be sure to practice good personal hygiene by wiping yourself from front to back after you urinate or defecate, and washing daily.
  • Washing before and after sexual intercourse, or at least urinating before and after sex, may also decrease your risk of a UTI.
  • Consider wearing underwear with a cotton crotch. This will allow moisture to escape. Other materials can trap moisture and create a potential breeding ground for bacteria. Wear loose-fitting clothes to help air flow keep this area dry.
  • The use of a diaphragm, unlubricated condoms, or spermicide can increase the risk of bladder infections in women. You may want to consider switching birth control methods if you have experienced bladder infections.
  • Some physicians prescribe an antibiotic to be taken immediately after sex for women who tend to have frequent UTIs.
  • Cranberries and cranberry juice have been studied as a way to prevent bladder infections. However, the research is not strong enough to support this, but there is some evidence that it might help.

A Word From Verywell

While you may not want to call your doctor when you feel the symptoms of a bladder infection, at-home methods cannot actually cure a bladder infection. Nevertheless, self-care methods are an important part of UTI prevention and treatment. If you are prone to recurrent UTIs, be sure to talk to your doctor. You may need a more thorough evaluation to see why you have this tendency.

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Article Sources

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