Normal urine is sterile. It contains fluids, salts, and waste products, but not bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Cystitis , more commonly known as a bladder infection, occurs when microorganisms, such as bacteria from the digestive tract, cling to the opening of the urethra and begin to multiply and irritate the lining of the urinary system.
Bladder infections are generally much less common in men than in women. This is because men have a longer urethra, the tube that drains urine from the bladder and out of the body. This makes it more difficult for bacteria to reach the bladder and cause infection. Although urinary tract infections in men are not common, they can be very serious.
When small amounts of urine remain in the bladder, this creates a perfect environment for bacteria to multiply and cause infection. In men, this poor emptying of the bladder is often due to an enlarged prostate, called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). Because BPH commonly develops as men age, bladder infections occur more frequently in men over the age of 50.
Other risk factors of bladder infections in men include:
The symptoms of bladder infection vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms may include:
If the infection is severe enough to inflame the bladder wall, it may also cause blood in the urine and leave it looking cloudy. If you have symptoms of a bladder infection, it is important for you to see your doctor so it can be promptly treated.
Treatment depends on the complexities of the infection. It typically involves taking an antibiotic for one week. Antibiotics may be needed for 2-4 weeks if fever or prostatitis (infection of the prostate) is present. Most men feel better within a few days of beginning the antibiotic. It is important to take the full course of antibiotics prescribed, even when you are feeling better, to make sure the infection is completely treated. Your doctor may recommend further testing if you have other symptoms, like a fever and a recurrent infection.
Certain conditions have similar symptoms to those of a bladder infection. If you have recurring infections or if no infection can be found, your doctor may look for one of the following conditions:
American Urological Association
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders
Canadian Family Physician
Canadian Urological Association
EBSCO DynaMed website. Acute cystitis in adults. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 20, 2013. Accessed January 14, 2014.
Urinary tract infection (lower)—men. Clinical Knowledge Summaries website. Available at: http://cks.nice.org.uk/urinary-tract-infection-lower-men. Updated January 2010. Accessed January 14, 2014.
Urinary tract infections in adults. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/utiadult/index.aspx. Updated May 24, 2012. Accessed January 14, 2014.
Urinary tract infections in adults. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=47. Updated March 2013. Accessed January 14, 2014.
Your urinary system and how it works. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/KUDiseases/pubs/yoururinary/index.aspx. Updated June 29, 2012. Accessed January 14, 2014.
Last reviewed January 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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