THE moment we hear bladder infection we immediately make the link to urinary tract infection (UTI), known as one of the commonest gynaecological ailments that affect women. Medical Internist Dr Samantha Nicholson explains that this is because the bladder forms a part of the urinary system, which makes bladder infections a kind of UTI.
“When someone gets a bladder infection, which is mostly caused by bacteria but can also be a result of other organisms such as a virus, the harmful organism usually migrates up to the bladder resulting in the infection. This quite often spreads, if the condition goes undiagnosed and untreated, to other parts of the urinary system such as the kidneys, which can have life-threatening consequences,” Dr Nicholson explained.
She pointed out, however, that if proper care is taken to make note of changes especially as it relates to urinary behaviour, then you may be able to escape the severe effects. In other cases Dr Nicholson said that the condition may be asymptomatic, meaning there are no symptoms associated with the condition at all until it is advanced.
Some of the commonly known symptoms of a bladder infection are:
Burning when urinating
You will feel a burning sensation each time you pass urine and it sometimes lingers even after you are through. Some people feel the majority of the burning sensation after they finish urinating.
You feel like have to go NOW, even though when you go you literally have to wait for the bladder to release. Sometimes there's the urge to empty your bladder but no urine at all is passed when you go on the toilet.
You will realise that you may get the urge to go to the bathroom several times more than you would in a regular day. Sometimes you're even wanting to go again as soon as you get up off the toilet, and sometimes you may notice just a dribble of urine when you go again.
Difficulty passing urine
This is directly related to and is triggered by the infection in the bladder. You will have the urge to pee and your bladder may or may not be full, but you know you want to go. However, when you do, barely any urine comes out no matter how much you focus on it.
Lower abdominal pain
You may feel mild to severe pain in the lower abdominal area. Many times patients liken it to constant, heavy pain, or it may come in the form of sharp, quick, menstrual type cramps.
You may realise that your urine has taken on a very strong and foul smelling odour.
Your urine, instead of just a single colour, looks white like particles are in it.
Blood in the urine
Your urine may be blood red, a deep brown, or pinkish, and sometimes may even have some particles in it.
Dr Nicholson explained that women are more prone to bladder infections and urinary tract infections in general, because it is quite easy for bacteria and other organisms to travel up the urethra and eventually migrate up into the bladder.
“This happens because of the close proximity of the urethra to the vagina, making bacteria introduced during sex or from the anus enter. This is usually a result of wiping back to front, and there may be other causes such as holding urine for extended periods, low water intake, and rough sex.”
She said that while the condition is treatable, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage when it becomes advanced and/or is left untreated. When this happens the patient could develop one of two things — pyelonephritis in the case of infected kidneys, or sepsis if the infection enters the bloodstream. Both are life-threatening and as such are usually treated at the hospital.
“Some groups of people are at an increased risk of bladder infection such as men with enlarged prostate, having a urine catheter (a thin tube inserted into the urethra to drain the bladder), those who are diabetic, pregnant women, or people with HIV. As such it is important that once there is any sign of the condition it should be brought to the attention of your doctor,” Dr Nicholson advised.