Bacterial Cystitis: When to see a Doctor : Bacterial cystitis (bladder infection) is the medical name given to an inflammation of the bladder – a balloon-like organ that stores urine. It is one of the most common types of urinary tract infection (UTI) – estimates indicate that two out of five women will experience it at some point in their lives. Men and children can also be affected, although this is less common.
Bladder infection is usually caused by a bacterial infection, but it can also occur as a complication of another illness as well as a reaction to certain medication, radiation therapy or irritants such as fabric softeners and feminine hygiene sprays.
In this post, we’ll focus on the symptoms of bladder infection, how it is diagnosed, and its treatment.
Symptoms of Bladder Infection
Painful or Burning Urination (Dysuria)
Are you experiencing a “scalding” sensation when passing urine? If yes, you may have a bladder infection. Pain/burning during urination is a classic tell-tale sign of a urinary tract infection. Most of the time – about ninety percent of the time, when a healthy adult experiences pain/burning during urination, it’s a UTI.
Constant Urge to Urinate
If you’re going to the bathroom a lot – more than eight times a day, it could very well be a sign of a UTI, especially interstitial cystitis. With this condition, you will feel a constant urge to urinate, even if you only pass a small amount of fluid each time.
Cloudy, Dark or Bloody Urine
The colour of your urine can tell you a lot about your body. If your urine is pale straw coloured or transparent yellow, it’s a sign that everything is normal. However, if you notice that your urine looks cloudy, dark or bloody, you may be suffering from a UTI.
Urine usually has an odour that is unique to everyone. In most cases, it does not have a strong smell. However, if your urine has a stronger-than-usual odour, it can be a huge tip-off that you have a bladder infection.
If the bladder infection spreads to the kidneys, you may experience pressure in the lower abdomen or lower back, fever, chills, nausea, and fatigue.
When to See a GP
You should see a general practitioner if:
- You get recurrent bladder infections
- The urgency to urinate lasts for several hours
- You have minor symptoms of the infection that do not disappear in one to two days
- Antibiotics don’t seem to be working
- Symptoms reappear shortly after you’ve completed a course of antibiotics
You have symptoms of bladder infection and are:
Once you’ve discussed your symptoms with the general practitioner, he/she may recommend certain tests including:
If the GP suspects that you have an infection, he/she may ask for a sample of your urine to determine whether it has pus, blood or bacteria.
A urine culture may be done to identify the exact bacteria causing the infection. The bacteria is then tested to determine the most appropriate antibiotic to treat it.
During this test, the urologist inserts a cystoscope – a thin, flexible tube fitted with a fibre-optic camera, into the bladder. The cystoscope allows the practitioner to view the urinary tract for signs of ulcers, stones, and other disorders. The equipment can also be used to take a small sample of tissue for lab analysis.
This type of test is normally done when no evidence of infection is found after all the other UTI tests have been conducted. Imaging tests such as ultrasound and X-ray can help the GP identify structural abnormalities of the urinary tract such as a tumour.
Bacterial cystitis is not usually a serious condition – most mild cases clear up in a few days without the need for medical treatment. However, for stubborn cases, antibiotics are usually prescribed. Some of the commonly prescribed antibiotics include Levaquin, Proquin, Cipro, Bactrim, Zotrim, just to name a few.
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