Bladder Infections

Weighing the pros and cons of being a woman? Here's a big con. About half of American women experience bladder infections at least once during their lifetime, and as many as 10 percent suffer three to five infections per year.


Cystitis -- another name for bladder infection -- is one of the more common types of urinary tract infections. Bladder infections occur when bacteria (most commonly E. coli, which is naturally found in the colon, stomach and around the anus) enter the bladder. E. coli bacteria accounts for close to 85 percent of all urinary tract infections. Even worse, once a woman develops a bladder infection her chances of getting another at some point increase substantially.

Another negative for women: There is an increased risk of bladder infections after menopause because of the decreased estrogen levels. When estrogen levels decrease, infection-fighting microorganisms, which are highly acidic and hostile to other bacteria, are decreased as well, making harmful bacteria easier to spread.

Why are bladder infections in men rare, you ask? The answer is because of the greater distance between their bladders and urethral openings. In women (who are 30 times more likely than men to get a bladder infection) bacteria only have to travel an inch or so to cause an infection.

Prevention

There are many different things one can do to help prevent cystitis and other urinary tract infections. It just takes one infection to make a person realize they don't want a repeat performance.

Another preventative is cranberry. Cranberries have been used for centuries as a homeopathic remedy for bladder infections. Some modern-day studies have shown that both cranberries and blueberries can inhibit the binding of E. coli bacteria to the urinary tract lining. Drinking cranberry juice can help prevent bladder infections, but because there is a lot of sugar and other ingredients in most cranberry juices and cocktails, cranberry capsules (or cranberry plus blueberry), which are made from cranberry juice extract, can be taken on a daily basis (especially those who are prone to reoccurring infections), producing the same effect without the added sugar and calories. The usual dosage of dry cranberry juice extract is 300 to 400 mgs, twice a day.

Here are some signs to look for if you think you may have a bladder infection

Treatment

When seeing blood in urine panic mode sometimes sets in, but if the rest of the symptoms are present, chances are, it's a bladder infection -- which can be incredibly painful and uncomfortable, but can be easily cured. Because bladder infections are relatively common, a doctor will prescribe one of many different antibiotics to treat it. If the infection is to be successfully cured, one MUST go to a medical doctor and get the proper diagnosis to receive treatment. Bladder infections need to be treated; otherwise they can result in other more severe infections like Pyelonephritis, an infection of the kidneys, which left untreated, can result in permanent kidney damage. Whether the symptoms are gone, it is important to finish all of the prescribed medication to be completely cured. A return trip to the doctor is recommended as well, to ensure that the infection is indeed gone.

If being treated for a bladder infection it's important to avoid alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods and citrus juice, because they can irritate the bladder. However, be sure to continue to drink plenty of non-cafffeinated fluids and go to the bathroom whenever the urge arises.

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