Uh-oh. You just went to the bathroom and something didn’t feel quite right at the end of your urine stream. Perhaps you’re urinating more frequently or noticed blood in the urine. All of these are signs of a potential bladder infection (medically referred to as a urinary tract infection – UTI – or cystitis).
While studies show most minor urinary tract infections eventually clear on their own, that isn’t comfortable for the patient and, if it doesn’t clear up, it can lead to a more serious kidney infection.
The good news is that proper diagnosis and the right antibiotics will have you feeling back to yourself in no time, and prevents your current infection from becoming worse. Recurrent bladder infections should be assessed by a urologist to establish why and to find a more permanent treatment.
The most common symptoms of a bladder infection include:
While an overactive bladder can be related to any number of things, an unusual, frequent urge to urinate is a potential sign of a bladder infection. Since the infection causes the bladder and urethra to become inflamed, making the lining more sensitive than normal, sending a signal to the brain that you have to “go,” even when there’s not much there.
There is a very distinct, telltale burn or sting that accompanies most bladder infections. While there are other causes for burning or stinging (like an allergic reaction or another type of infection), a UTI is one of the most common causes of pain or discomfort while urinating.
It can be shocking to see blood on your toilet paper after wiping, or down in the toilet bowl after urinating. This is the result of that irritated bladder lining we talked about. You should always call a doctor whenever you notice blood on toilet paper or the toilet to have it checked out.
The urinary tract is designed to be a sterile environment. Every once in a while however, bacteria make their way up the urethra (80% of bladder infections are caused by bacteria from the bowels that reach the urethra). When your immune system is healthy, and your healthy flora and fauna are in balance, your body is able to eliminate the invaders. Sometimes, however, the invaders take over and when expelled by your urine, they cause a stronger, or foul odor – and make it look cloudy as well.
Contrary to what most people think, pain in the lower back – accompanied by the symptoms of a bladder infection – does not usually mean it’s spreading to your kidneys. In fact, pain from a kidney infection is felt up higher, along the flanks at the lower rib cage. However, irritated urinary tract lining causes local nerves to give a warning cry – resulting in pain in the lower-abdomen or back.
While over-the-counter products, like AZO, can help with relief from pain and discomfort, any of the above symptoms should trigger a call to your physician so you can be accurately diagnosed and treated.
Do you suffer from repeat bladder infections? Contact us here at Palouse Specialty Physicians and we’ll get you in to see our urology department.
Published on February 9, 2018