Bladder Infection (cont.)
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is the bladder?
- What is a bladder infection?
- What causes bladder infections?
- What are some risk factors for bladder infection?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a bladder infection in women?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a bladder infection in men?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a bladder infection in children?
- How do health care professionals diagnose a bladder infection?
- What are treatment options and medications for a bladder infection?
- Are home remedies effective for a bladder infection?
- What is the treatment for a bladder infection during pregnancy?
- What are potential complications of a bladder infection?
- Is it possible to prevent bladder infections?
- What is the prognosis for a bladder infection?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What are the signs and symptoms of a bladder infection in men?
In men, signs and symptoms of probable bladder infection (cystitis) are as follows:
- Dysuria (painful urination)
- Urinary frequency
- Urinary urgency
- Suprapubic pain (pain above the pelvic bone in lower abdomen)
- Hematuria (blood in urine): Blood in the urine may occur with a bladder infection. However, if an individual has grossly bloody urine, consultation with a urologist (a doctor who specializes in the treatment of conditions affecting the urinary tract) is essential as other conditions, such as bladder cancer, can also cause the urine to be bloody.
- Incomplete voiding of urine (leaving urine in the bladder after urinating)
- Urinary incontinence, which may be associated with urgency
What are the signs and symptoms of a bladder infection in children?
Signs and symptoms of bladder and urinary infection in young children and infants may be more vague and can include the following:
- Poor eating
- Failure to thrive
- Generalized malaise
- Strong-smelling urine
- Abdominal pain
How do health care professionals diagnose a bladder infection?
Bladder infection is generally diagnosed by a urinalysis (UA). In most cases, a voided urine specimen is use, however, there is a risk of contamination by skin bacteria. A catheterized urine sample is more accurate, but has the risk of introducing bacteria into the bladder.
The method of collecting a voided urine sample differs between men and women, as well as between circumcised men and uncircumcised men. In circumcised men, there is no special preparation. However, in uncircumcised men, the foreskin should be retracted. If the source of the infection is unclear, three separate urine samples may be collected: the first void (the first 10 ml of urination) reflects whether or not bacteria are in the urethra; and the second sample is a midstream void (that which occurs after the first 10 ml) and reflects whether or not bacteria are in the bladder. If there is a concern for bacteria in the prostate, a rectal examination is performed and the prostate massaged to express fluid from the prostate into the urethra, and the third urine sample is obtained after the prostate massage. In both males and females, the urine should be collected midstream. It is unclear if washing the penis or perineum with gauze or an antibiotic wipe is more effective in preventing contamination from the skin. In children who are not toilet-trained, a catheterized specimen is more accurate than placing a collection bag over the urethra. In infants, a health care professional can perform a suprapubic aspiration (placing a small needle through the lower abdomen into the bladder and withdrawing a urine sample). In toilet-trained children, a health care professional may obtain a voided urine sample.
A quick office-based urinalysis, called a urine dipstick, is unable to detect if bacteria are present. However, it is used to detect the presence of nitrite in the urine and leukocyte esterase. Nitrite is a chemical that is formed when bacteria in the urine break down a chemical called nitrate, which is normally present in the urine. In addition, the urine dipstick is unable to determine the number of white blood cells (infection cells) present in the urine but assesses whether or not white blood cells are present by measuring leukocyte esterase activity. Leukocyte esterase is a chemical produced by white blood cells. The presence of both nitrites and an elevated leukocyte esterase are very suggestive of a urinary tract infection. The absence of nitrite does not mean that there is not an infection, because not all bacteria can break down nitrate to nitrite.
A formal urinalysis with examination of the urine under the microscope is able to identify whether or not bacteria are present in the urine as well as determine the number of white blood cells present in the urine. Examination of the urine under the microscope can also determine if yeast are present in the urine. Viruses cannot be seen under the routine microscope and require special tests to identify.
The definitive test to determine if there is a bladder infection is the urine culture. The urine culture identifies the number of and type of bacteria in the urine as well as determine the sensitivity of the bacteria to a number of different antibiotics. The usual cutoff for a urinary tract infection is the presence of greater than 10,000 bacteria, however, in the presence of symptoms, even fewer bacteria in the urine is supportive of a urinary tract infection.
If symptoms of an upper urinary tract infection, fever, flank pain, nausea or vomiting are present, a blood test, a complete blood cell count (CBC) is often obtained. If there is a concern for a severe infection, a sample of blood will be cultured to see if there are bacteria in the bloodstream. Radiologic studies are not routinely obtained in the case of cystitis, however, if there are signs of a kidney infection such as flank pain, fevers/chills, or there is a failure to respond to antibiotics (with persistent or worsening symptoms), then radiologic testing (renal ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI) can be performed to rule out an abscess or other abnormalities.
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