Bladder infections can lead to inflammation of the bladder (cystitis). Symptoms include pain and burning with urination, increased frequency of urination and sometimes abdominal pain. The inflammation usually improves after a course of antibiotics. There are also several steps you can take to prevent bladder infections in the future.
Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder that’s generally caused by a bacterial infection. Bladder infections occur when bacteria from the area between the vagina/penis and rectum (called the perineum) enter the urethra and travel into the bladder.
Bladder infections are the most common type of urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs can occur in any part of the urinary tract — in the kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra. They account for more than 8.1 million visits to health care providers every year. Approximately 60% of women and 12% of men will have at least one UTI during their lifetime.
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Bladder infections are very common, especially in women. Approximately 60% of women will experience a bladder infection during their lifetime. And these infections may recur: Between 20% and 40% of women who have a bladder infection will experience at least another in their lifetime. Men are less likely to get bladder infections because of differences in their anatomy.
A bladder infection is usually caused by bacteria entering the urethra and multiplying in your bladder. The most common type of bacteria is Escherichia coli (E. coli).
There are factors that increase the risk of bladder infections. These include:
The symptoms of a bladder infection are similar to what you will feel when you have a urinary tract infection (UTI). These symptoms can include:
Other symptoms that can be linked to a more serious kidney infection include:
If you think you have a bladder infection you should talk with your healthcare provider. To help diagnose a bladder inflammation (cystitis), you will typically be asked for a urine sample. Your urine will be collected in a sterile (clean) cup in a restroom at your provider’s office. You may want to avoid peeing right before your appointment so that you’ll be able to provide a sample during your office visit. Your provider will most likely do two tests on your urine: a urinalysis and a urine culture.
Your healthcare provider may also order additional testing if you continue to get bladder infections including an imaging test to look at your kidneys and a cystoscopy, which uses a special scope to look inside the bladder.
A bladder infection is typically treated with antibiotics. Your healthcare provider will prescribe an antibiotic based on the type of bacteria found during your urine tests. In order to adequately treat the infection, it’s important to take all of the antibiotics your provider prescribes.
Some commonly used antibiotics include:
You can often prevent a bladder infection by adopting some good lifestyle practices. These practices include:
Your bladder inflammation should improve as your body responds to a short course of antibiotics. It's important to complete your prescription even if your symptoms get better. Stopping your medication early could lead to the infection coming back.
If you experience the symptoms of a bladder infection or urinary tract infection, call your healthcare provider to discuss a treatment plan.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Bladder infections are common urinary tract infections. You might feel pain and burning when you pee, as well as the urge to pee more frequently than you normally do. If you have these inflammatory symptoms, call your healthcare provider. You should start to feel better after a few days of antibiotic treatment, but it’s important to finish the entire prescription so the infection doesn’t return.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/22/2021.
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