Bladder infections are extremely common. The medical term for inflammation of the bladder is cystitis. There are a variety of possible causes, with the most common one being a bacterial infection.
Urinary tract infection
(UTI) is a more general term indicating an infection in any part of the urinary system. Most commonly these infections occur in the bladder. This is not an uncommon occurrence. In fact:
Women Are Much More Susceptible Than Men
- UTIís account for more than seven million visits to physicians' offices each year
- UTIís are more common in women than men
- Approximately 1 in 5 women will experience a UTI in her lifetime
- A person who has once had an infection is likely to develop subsequent infections
- Approximately 40 to 50% of adult women report that they have had a bladder infection at some time in their life.
It is felt that women are more susceptible to bladder infections in part due the their anatomy. In women the urethra, the tube that carries urine out from the bladder, is much shorter than in men. The area in the genital region around the opening of the urethra is normally inhabited by bacteria. The bacteria begin to move up the urethra and due to the short distance in women, are able to make it into the bladder. In men the urethra is much longer, and so the bodyís natural defense mechanisms have time to eliminate the bacteria before they ever reach the bladder. Women who are sexually active are more prone to bladder infections because of the friction that occurs near the opening of the urethra during intercourse. This can allow bacteria to enter the urethra and ascend into the bladder. Urinating after sexual intercourse can help decrease this risk factor.Who else is at risk for developing a bladder infection / UTI?
While anyone may develop a bladder infection, certain groups are at increased risk. As mentioned, women have a higher risk than men. In addition the following groups have a higher potential for having a bladder infection at some point in their life:
- Diabetics- due to changes in the immune system, high glucose in the urine and altered bladder emptying
- People with indwelling catheters
- People who are unable to empty their bladders completely
- People with congenital abnormalities of the urinary system
- People with neurological conditions affecting the bladder