What Causes Bladder Infections

Bladder infections are caused when bacteria colonizes and accumulates in the bladder. For some it causes frequent, painful urination. In the elderly it is difficult to detect because the initial signs and symptoms are malaise and confusion.

Bladder infections are caused when bacteria enter through the urethra opening, where the urine comes out of the body. The act of urinating does a very good job of flushing bacteria out of the urinary tract system. Think of the nursery song “Itsy Bitsy Spider”. “The itsy bitsy spider crawled up the water spout”, this is bacteria working its way up through the urethra. “Down came the rain and washed the spider out”, this is urine flushing the bacteria from the urethra.

Bladder infections are mostly a result of dehydration. By not urinating enough the bacteria is not being flushed from the urinary tract. By consuming plenty of clear liquids you will be forced to urinate frequently. Bladder infections are also caused by retaining urine for a long period of time. If small amounts of bacteria are present in the bladder, the warm urine will create an incubator effect, causing bacteria to multiply.

Bladder infections left untreated can cause sepsis which can be fatal. For elderly people this is particularly dangerous as a urinary infection can be present on day one, by day two a fever develops, and by day three a systemic infection has made its way into the blood stream causing severe problems. Intravenous antibiotics and urinary catheters are necessary to treat systemic infections.

If you suspect you have a bladder infection contact your doctor or visit an urgent care walk in clinic. If caught early a bladder infection can usually be treated with oral antibiotics. Signs of a bladder infection are fever, malaise, painful urination, frequent urination, foul smelling urine or tea colored urine. For the elderly, lower abdominal pain, malaise and new onset confusion are usually your only symptoms. You should seek help as soon as possible if you suspect a bladder infection.