Thumbnail image of: Urinary System: Illustration

Bladder Infection: Brief Version

What is a bladder infection?

The bladder is the part of your body that stores urine. When bacteria get into the bladder, it can get infected.

What is the cause?

A bladder infection happens when bacteria from the skin get into the bladder.

  • Bacteria can spread to the bladder from the rectal area or vagina.
  • Sometimes the bladder gets infected when something is blocking the flow of urine. For example, in men the problem can be caused by an enlarged prostate gland. In pregnant women pressure from the baby might cause the problem.

Women get bladder infections more often than men.

What are the symptoms?

  • You may feel the need to urinate a lot.
  • You may feel a burning or stinging when you urinate.
  • You may have cramps in your lower belly or back.
  • Your urine may be cloudy and smell bad.
  • Your urine may look pink or red.
  • You may have a fever or chills.

How is it treated?

If tests by your healthcare provider show that you have a bladder infection, your provider will prescribe antibiotics. You may also need pain medicine.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Take the antibiotic medicine for as long as your healthcare provider prescribes, even when you feel better.
  • Drink more water than you usually do.
  • Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.
  • Call your provider if your symptoms aren’t better in 2 days, or if you have worse fever or pain.

How can I help prevent bladder infection?

Urinate often during the day. You should also urinate after you have sex.

If you are a woman, it is important to:

  • Keep the area around your vagina clean.
  • Wipe from front to back after you go to the bathroom.
  • Gently wash the area around your vagina when you bathe or shower.
  • Wear cotton underwear and use pantyhose with cotton crotches.
  • Avoid tight clothing. Wear loose pants.
  • Take wet bathing suits off right away.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have bladder infections often. You may need tests to find out why. Your provider may prescribe medicine that helps prevent bladder infections.

If you are a man, remember to:

  • Always wash your penis when you bathe or shower. If you are not circumcised, gently pull back the foreskin and wash the tip of the penis when you bathe.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-06-09
Last reviewed: 2014-05-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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