Recurrent Bladder Infections
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Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection CausesA urinary tract infection is caused when bacteria enter the urinary tract by way of the urethra, and they then multiply within the bladder. With a UTI, the infection can occur in the bladder, sometimes known as cystitis, or within the urethra, which is also called urethritis.
Bacteria are the cause of urinary tract infections, and when recurrent infections occur, each infection is caused by separate and unique bacteria. This is important to note, as each UTI is distinctive and separate and is not a continuation of the previous infection. Sometimes two consecutive infections can be caused by a bacterium like E. coli, however, each bacterium will have distinctive features, and they should be considered as separate infections.
Symptoms of Recurrent Urinary Tract InfectionsA urinary tract infection does not always come with symptoms or signs, but when it does, they may include the following:
- Strong-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain
- Urine that is cloudy in appearance
- Urine that is red, dark brown, or bright pink in appearance
- Passing small amounts of urine frequently
- Presence of a burning sensation while urinating
- A persistent and strong urge to urinate
Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection Risk FactorsThere are a number of risk factors associated with urinary tract infections, including the following:
- Use of certain types of birth control, like spermicidal agents or diaphragms
- Completing menopause
- Being sexually active
- Being female
- Having an abnormality of the urinary tract
- Having an immune system that is impaired or suppressed
- Use of a catheter for urination
- Having urinary tract blockages
Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection DiagnosisProcedures and tests that can be done to diagnose a urinary traction infection include the following:
Urine Sample AnalysisYour doctor may ask you to collect a sample of your urine so that the lab can check for bacteria, red blood cells, and white blood cells.
Laboratory Urinary Tract Bacteria GrowthA lab analysis of urine may also require a urine culture. This test will use your urine in order to grow bacteria. This can tell your physician which bacteria are causing the infection and which types of medications may work the best to treat it.
CystoscopyIn cases of recurrent UTIs, your physician may perform a cystoscopy to examine your bladder and urethra. The scope is inserted into your urethra and then it passes through your bladder.
Urinary Tract ImagingIf your physician believes that your frequent infections are caused by a urinary tract abnormality, he may request a CT scan or ultrasound to create a urinary tract image. Your physician may also utilize contrast dye in order to highlight certain structures.
UTI TreatmentIf you have more than three infections in six months, chances are you're experiencing recurrent UTI's. When an infection is present one might have painful urination, blood in the urine, constant urge to empty the bladder, and fever. The following is a list of suggestions to help prevent urinary tract infections:
- Drink plenty of water
- Daily cranberry extract pills at night
- Wipe from front to back
- Shower before sexual activity (best if both partners comply)
- Drink 2 large glasses of water after sexual activity
- Empty bladder after sex
- Rinse after sexual activity
- If recommended, use estrogen cream or antibiotics