Bladder Infection in Adults

Medically Reviewed on 2/7/2023

Woman with UTI and stomach pain
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are infections that affect the bladder or any part of the urinary tract, including the urethra, ureters, or kidneys.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) most frequently manifest as bladder infections. These are bacterial infections that affect the bladder or any part of the urinary tract, including the urethra, ureters, or kidneys.

Your body has mechanisms to protect itself from urinary tract infections. For instance, urine usually flows from your kidneys through your ureters and into the bladder. When you urinate, you flush out bacteria that have entered the urinary tract. This one-way urine flow prevents microorganisms from infecting the urinary system.

When the body's antibodies are weak, the bacteria can sometimes lead to a bladder infection. Consult a medical professional if you experience symptoms of a bladder infection.

If you seek immediate medical attention for a bladder or urethral infection, you can avoid developing a kidney infection. A kidney infection can develop when a UTI affects one or both kidneys. Kidney infections can be excruciatingly painful and lead to serious health problems. Most people would not experience complications if their bladder infection or other UTI is properly diagnosed and treated.

Who is more likely to develop a bladder infection?

Bladder infections can occur in people of any age or sex, but women are more likely to experience symptoms than men due to anatomical differences. Because female urethras are shorter than male urethras, bacteria travel a shorter distance to infect a female bladder. In women, the urethral opening is closer to the rectum, where the bacteria that cause bladder infections live. According to research, most bladder or urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect 40 to 60 percent of women. Recurring infections are likely in one out of every four women.

You may be more susceptible to a UTI if you:

What are the causes of bladder infection?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are mostly caused by bacteria. They enter the urinary tract via the urethra and start to proliferate in the bladder.

The urinary system is intended to keep bacteria out. However, the body’s defenses occasionally fail.

  • Infection of the bladder: Escherichia coli usually causes this. E. coli is typically found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
  • Infection of the urethra: When GI bacteria pass from the anus to the urethra, UTI can occur. Sexually transmitted infections can cause urinary infections. Mycoplasma, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes are among them.

What are the symptoms of a bladder infection?

The symptoms of a bladder infection may include

  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Frequent or strong desire to urinate but there is little urine output
  • Severe pain in your back between your ribs or lower abdomen
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Fever

If you have symptoms of a bladder infection, consult a doctor immediately.

Early treatment is necessary because if it progresses to kidney infections, it can result in serious health problems.


How much urine does the average adult pass each day? See Answer

What tests are used by medical professionals to diagnose bladder infections

Medical practitioners regularly test a sample of your urine to determine whether you have a bladder infection. In rare cases, a healthcare practitioner may request additional tests to examine your urinary tract.

Lab tests

  • Urinalysis: A urine sample will be examined by a health professional for bacteria and white blood cells, which the body generates to fight infection.
  • Urine culture: A healthcare provider may culture your urine to determine what type of bacteria is causing the infection, especially when a person has a history of recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) or certain medical conditions. The results of a urine culture take about two days to come and will help your doctor choose the best treatment for you.

Imaging and other tests

A doctor may recommend imaging tests to check your urinary tract if you have frequent bladder infections or a severe infection. A kidney stone or a structural issue in your urinary tract are two disorders that might be associated with a complex UTI.

  • Cystoscopy: Examines the urethra and bladder. During a cystoscopy, doctors look for structural issues that might be the source of the infection and swelling, redness, and other indications of infection.
  • Ultrasound: Sound waves create an image of the internal organs in this test.
  • Urodynamic testing: Refers to any procedure that indicates how well your bladder, sphincters, and urethra are storing and releasing urine.

What are the treatment options for a bladder infection?

Antibiotics are likely to be prescribed if you have a bacterial bladder infection. The doctor will investigate the origin of your symptoms and recommend the best treatment.


The antibiotic you take depends on the type of bacteria causing your infection and any antibiotic allergies you might have.

Some commonly used antibiotics are

The duration of treatment depends on

  • The severity of the infection
  • Whether your symptoms and illness resolve
  • Whether you have recurring infections
  • If you have urinary tract problems

Because bacteria can enter the prostate gland, which is located near the urethra, men may need to take antibiotics for a longer period. Bacteria can hide deep within prostate tissue.

When taking antibiotics, adhere to your doctor's advice. Even if you get relief from your symptoms, make sure to finish the course of antibiotic medication.

At-home treatments

If you have a urinary tract infection or a history of getting one, your doctor may advise you to drink plenty of fluids. You may include a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice in your diet. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from drinking a lot of fluids, such as urinary incontinence, frequent urination, or renal or heart failure, consult a healthcare provider.

A heating pad on your back or abdomen could help you manage the pain if you have a kidney or bladder infection.

What are the complications of bladder infections?

Lower urinary tract infections rarely cause complications when treated promptly. However, if left untreated, urinary tract infections (UTIs) can lead to

  • Repeated infections
  • Permanent kidney damage
  • Delivering a premature or low-birth-weight infant
  • A narrowed urethra in men
  • Sepsis

Complications from bladder infections are uncommon when you complete the treatment recommended by the doctor. If you do not take the recommended course of antibiotics, you might get a different, harder-to-treat condition.

How can you prevent bladder infection?

Changing your regular activities and lifestyle choices may help you avoid recurring bladder infections.

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Urine can be diluted by drinking water. This causes frequent urination, allowing bacteria to be flushed from the urinary tract before an illness develops.
  • Try cranberry juice. Studies examining the possibility that cranberry juice protects against urinary tract infections (UTIs) are at the early stages. Cranberry juice consumption is likely safe.
  • Wipe from front to back. Do this after urinating and having a bowel movement. It helps keep bacteria from spreading to the vagina and urethra from the anus.
  • Urinate after having sex. Helps flush bacteria.
  • Avoid potentially irritating feminine products. They can irritate the urethra when used in the vaginal area. Sprays, powders, and douches are some of these products.
  • Change your birth control method. The development of bacteria can be promoted by diaphragms, nonlubricated condoms, or condoms treated with spermicide

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Medically Reviewed on 2/7/2023
Image source: iStock Images

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