Bladder Infection – Diagnosis and Treatment

 

Bladder infections are common in women and are cause by overgrowth of bacteria in the bladder and the urinary tract. The symptoms could vary from pain in the abdomen to a burning sensation while passing urine. One of the common symptoms of bacterial infections of the bladder is cloudy or bloody urine. Most doctors suggest a urine test to make a proper diagnosis.

Diagnosis of Bladder Infection

The first test that the doctors ask the patient to undergo is the Urinalysis (UA). A urine sample is collected from the patient to diagnose cystitis (bacterial bladder infection). It is then tested for the presence of white blood cells (WBCs), the nitrates or blood in the urine. The presence of white blood cells in the urine indicates an infection while the presence of nitrates indicates a bacterial infection.

In certain cases the doctors might also send the urine for a urine culture. This test is done to identify the type of bacteria that is causing the infection and to test which antibiotic is effective against that bacteria. The report for this test will come after a few days because the urine culture takes time to grow the bacteria in test environment.

In the case of recurrent bladder infections the doctor may perform cystoscopy which involves inserting a thin tube, attached to a micro-camera, into the urethra to examine the bladder. For more severe infections of the urinary tract the doctors may send the patient for a CT Scan of the abdomen and the pelvis or an ultrasound test of the urinary tract to rule out damage to the kidneys.

Treatment

The first round of treatment for the bladder infections is almost always a course of antibiotics. For milder infections the doctor will prescribe antibiotics for 3-5 days while they may be prescribed for 10-14 days for severe infections. The patients are advised to finish the course of antibiotics even if the symptoms disappear after a few days so that the bacteria can be totally eliminated from the bladder or the urinary tract. For patients who suffer from bladder infections often, doctors advise lower dose of antibiotics for six months or more.

Doctors may also suggest painkillers for a few days to alleviate pain in the abdomen or the lower back. The hormone estrogen is prescribed for post-menopausal women to avoid recurrence of the infection. In addition the doctor may advice heat compress to ward off the lower back pain and loose clothing so that the skin can breathe leaving lesser chances for bacterial growth. Some lifestyle changes may also be recommended to ward off future infections.

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