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Such bacteria can come from inside our intestines but it can also come from the skin around the rectal and vaginal areas. 80% of all bladder infections are caused by the bacteria E.coli. The infection enters the system via the urethra (that tube that connects the bladder to the outside).
Some women are more prone to bladder infections (some 30% of all women between the age of 20 and 40 years have had a bladder infection) and this may well be because of the differences in the shape and length of the urethra. A woman with a shorter urethra may get more bladder infections. Women are also more susceptible during intercourse because any time the vaginal area is rubbed bacteria can be pushed into the urethra. Men usually get fewer bladder infections because they have longer urethras.
Signs and symptoms of a bladder infection
o Frequent and urgent need to urinate.
o Burning or pain during urination.
o Bladder spasms.
o Feeling of need to urinate even though little or no urine is there.
o Mild fever.
o Occasionally, cloudy or bloody urine or urine with a strong odor.
Signs and symptoms of a kidney infection
o Fevers, chills and nausea.
o Back pain just above the waist.
o Abdominal pain.
o Frequent urination and burning.
o Cloudy or bloody urine.
When you have the signs and symptoms of either a bladder infection or a kidney infection, it is wise to seek medical attention straight away as such symptoms will only worsen if the problem is not treated. A kidney infection can be serious and needs to be treated quickly to avoid any permanent damage to the kidneys.
Tips to prevent bladder infections:
o After both urination and a bowel movement, women
should cleanse from front to back with toilet paper
or a baby wipe.
o Men and women should go to the bathroom to empty the bladder frequently. Avoid holding urine for long periods of time.
o Men and women should keep the genital area clean and dry. If you are sexually active, urinate within 10 minutes of intercourse and gently wash the genital area to remove any bacteria. If you use a lubricant, choose a water-soluble one.
o Spermicidal creams and diaphragm contraceptives are both associated with higher incidences of bladder infections.
o Women should avoid bubble baths as these can cause irritation to the vaginal area. Also avoid nylon underwear, tight jeans or wet swimsuits while underwear with cotton crotches helps to keep the vaginal area free of moisture.
o Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day to keep your bladder active and bacteria free.
o Pure 100% cranberry juice is a good liquid to drink regularly as it will help to keep the urine acidic. Bacteria do not multiply well in an acidic environment. If you are not able to get hold of juice, then use cranberry capsules, with plenty of water, available in good health food shops.
If you are female and you have recurrent bladder infections, you should have this checked for possible underlying problems. As bladder infections are rarer in males or children, further investigation of any infection should be carried out by your medical practitioner. The important thing is for all such infections to be treated promptly.