Bladder infections are a common type of urinary tract infection (UTI). Bacteria enters your urethra and moves to the bladder, where the bacteria can multiply quickly. Anyone can have a bladder infection, but they are particularly common among women.
Approximately 40 to 60 percent of women will develop a bladder infection or UTI in their life, and about one in four women will have a repeat infection. Women are at increased risk for a bladder infection since they have a shorter urethra than men. As a result, the bacteria has less distance to travel to reach the bladder.
Common symptoms of a bladder infection include:
- Pain or a burning sensation when urinating
- Feelings of frequent urination even though your bladder is empty
- Urinating more frequently than usual
- Pain in your bladder, stomach, or pelvis
- Urine that appears cloudy or smells foul
Most bladder infections are classified as simple or uncomplicated bladder infections. These types of bladder infections are typically not difficult to treat and respond well to treatment.
Complicated bladder infections involve situations where the person has an abnormal urinary system or medical conditions that will need to be considered when determining a course of treatment, such as pregnant women, age, diabetes, renal insufficiency, and more. This situation may make it more difficult to treat the infection or take a longer course of treatment. Cases of bladder infection in men are always considered complicated bladder infections since their longer urethra should stop this type of infection from occurring.
Remedies for Bladder Infections
If you think you have a bladder infection, you should contact your doctor and schedule an outpatient appointment. You’ll need medication to get rid of the bacterial infection. That said, there are home remedies you can also use to help ease symptoms and help with the healing process. Here are five remedies and treatments for bladder infections that you can use:
1. See your doctor for an antibiotic
If you’re diagnosed with a bladder infection, your doctor will likely prescribe an oral antibiotic. Antibiotics work by getting rid of the bacteria that is causing your bladder infection. Research has shown that antibiotics are effective and perform better than a placebo.
You need to complete the full course of the prescribed antibiotic, even when you start to feel better. If you stop the antibiotic before completing the prescription, you risk getting another infection. In an uncomplicated or simple bladder infection, you’ll typically notice an improvement in your symptoms within a day or two of starting the antibiotic. Your doctor may select an antibiotic treatment course that will last three to five days. In complicated bladder infections, the course is longer, typically seven to fourteen days.
2. Drink more water
When caring for a bladder infection, it’s critical to drink lots of fluids to help flush the bacteria out of your bladder. The additional fluids also help dilute your urine, which can make urinating less painful while you’re healing from the infection.
Water is an excellent choice since it doesn’t contain any bladder irritants like other beverages, such as caffeine or artificial sweeteners. Drinking more water can also help prevent bladder infections.
3. Drink at least one cup of cranberry juice daily
Cranberry juice and cranberries have been recommended for centuries as a remedy for bladder infections and help you feel better faster. Research does suggest that cranberry juice may help protect against bladder infections and UTIs due to their antibacterial properties.
4. Apply a heating pad or warm pack
A heating pad or warm pack can help ease the discomfort from a bladder infection, especially at night.
5. Take over-the-counter pain medications
While antibiotics treat the cause of the infection, they don’t address symptoms of pain. If you’re experiencing pain in your pelvis area, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Alternatively, your doctor may prescribe phenazopyridine to help address symptoms of pain and irritation related to the bladder infection that you may be experiencing before the antibiotics start working.
When to See a Doctor
Contact your doctor if you have pain or discomfort when you urinate or other symptoms of a bladder infection, especially if the symptoms have been present for two days or more. If an infection lingers for too long, you risk the bacterial infection traveling to other parts of your body, including your kidneys. Therefore, you should seek treatment if you notice symptoms.
Your doctor will complete a physical examination and collect a urine sample to send for lab analysis to determine if an infection is present. Complications from an uncomplicated bladder infection are typically rare with antibiotic treatment. However, if you develop fever, chills, nausea, or confusion, you should immediately contact your doctor. These symptoms suggest a more serious infection that has spread to your kidneys. If you have a kidney infection, you may need an IV treatment of high-dose antibiotics, which may require hospitalization.