Cystitis, or bladder infection, is the most common urinary tract infection. It occurs in the lower urinary tract (the bladder and urethra) and nearly always in women. In most cases, the infection is brief and acute and only the surface of the bladder is infected. Deeper layers of the bladder may be harmed if the infection becomes persistent, or chronic, or if the urinary tract is structurally abnormal. Uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTI’s) are due to a bacterial infection, most often E. coli. Microscopic examination of the urine sample shows e.g. the presence of white blood cells and bacteria.
Symptoms of lower urinary tract infections usually begin suddenly and may include
one or more of the following signs:
- The urge to urinate frequently, which may recur immediately after the bladder is emptied.
- A painful burning sensation when urinating. (If this is the only symptom, then the infection is most likely urethritis, an infection limited to the urethra.)
- Discomfort or pressure in the lower abdomen. The abdomen can feel bloated.
- Pain in the pelvic area or back.
- The urine often has a strong smell, looks cloudy, or contains blood. This is a sign of pyuria, or a high white blood cell count in the urine, and is a very reliable indicator of urinary tract infections.
- Occasionally, fever develops.
Antibiotics are the main treatment for all UTI’s. A variety of antibiotics are available, and choices depend on many factors, including whether the infection is complicated or uncomplicated or primary or recurrent. Treatment decisions are also based on the type of patient (man or woman, a pregnant or non-pregnant woman, child, hospitalized or non-hospitalized patient, person with diabetes). Treatment should not necessarily be based on the actual bacteria count. For example, if a woman has symptoms, even if bacterial count is low or normal, infection is probably present, and the doctor should consider antibiotic treatment.
Source: NY Times Health