Your bladder is the hollow organ that holds urine until you're ready to urinate (pee). A bladder infection is usually caused by bacteria. Bladder infections are also called cystitis.
Bladder infections are common in women and rare in men
Bladder infections make you want to urinate more often than normal and sometimes cause pain or burning when you urinate
Doctors can usually tell if you have a bladder infection by testing your urine
Doctors treat bladder infections with antibiotics
Bladder infections are caused by bacteria getting into your bladder. Usually, bacteria get in through your urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body.
Women are more likely than men to get bladder infections. A woman's urethra is shorter and closer to the vagina and anus, which makes it easier for bacteria to get to the bladder.
For women, the following also raise the chance of getting a bladder infection:
Having had other bladder infections, especially if they began when you were young
Menopause, because of changes in hormone levels and thinning tissues around the urethra
Using a diaphragm (a rubber birth control device that goes in the vagina)
Using a spermicide (a gel that you put in the vagina to kill sperm)
For both women and men, the chance of having a bladder infection is higher if you have:
Sometimes you may have a bladder infection but no symptoms. This is more common for older people, people with nerve problems in their bladder, and people who have a catheter in their bladder. Sometimes, in older people confusion is the only symptom of a bladder infection.
Your doctor can tell if you have a bladder infection based on:
To test your urine, doctors need a sample that doesn't have any bacteria from your skin in it. So before you urinate, you'll have to clean off the area where your urine comes out. You'll first urinate a little bit in the toilet. You'll then put the urine container in your urine stream and collect a sample. If the doctors don't think this method will give a clean enough sample, they may put a catheter in your bladder to get the sample.
Your doctor will give you:
If you feel a lot of burning when you urinate, doctors may give you a pill that helps relieve the burning until the antibiotics work.
Women who tend to get bladder infections can:
For women who still get a lot of bladder infections, doctors sometimes have them take antibiotics every day to try to prevent such infections. After menopause, doctors may prescribe a cream containing the female hormone estrogen.