Bladder Infection--Top 10 Causes
and Cures
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Last updated March 2, 2017 (originally published June 22, 2010)

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Bladder infections are among the most common conditions in
America.   According to the National Institutes of Health
(NIH), urinary tract infections (UTIs) account for around 7
million physician visits and another one million
hospitalizations in the US each year.

Women are at greater risk of developing bladder infections
than men. Approximately 1 in 5 women will develop a UTI in
her lifetime, says the NIH.

What Is a Bladder Infection?

Bladder infection is one condition found under the umbrella
term  "urinary tract infections" or UTIs. Bladder infection,
also known as cystitis, is one of the most common forms of
UTI. (Women over 60 are one of the fastest growing groups
with cystitis.
Read more.)

When your urinary system is functioning correctly, the
kidneys remove waste and excess liquid from the blood and
take them into the bladder. Urine is passed from the bladder
and out of the body through a tube called the urethra. Urine
is sterile so causes no problems when you pass it.

However, infections can occur when bacteria from the
digestive tract gets into the urethra, cling to the opening and
multiply. If bacteria reaches the bladder, you may suffer a
bladder infection. Most bladder infections are caused by the
Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria.

UTIs and bladder infections can be distressing and
uncomfortable and may become more serious if bacteria
travel to the kidneys.

What Are The Symptoms of Bladder Infection?

Not everyone with a bladder infection will have symptoms
and, of those that do, symptoms may not be the same.

Common symptoms of bladder infection include a desperate
and frequent urge to urinate and a burning sensation when
passing urine.

Other signs of bladder infection are spasms in the bladder,
mild fever, and
cloudy or foul-smelling urine.

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic inflammatory condition
affecting the bladder. Its causes are largely unknown but
symptoms are similar to a UTI including the urge to urinate,
sometimes up to 50 times a day, and pain in the lower
abdomen. IC can cause considerable stress and 90% of
sufferers are women. The average age of the onset of IC is
40, with 25% of cases occurring under the age of 30,
according to the Interstitial Cystitis Association.

Top 10 Causes and Cures for Bladder Infection

1. Cranberry Juice Can Cure Bladder Infections
Cranberry juice is widely believed to be at the top of the list
of infection-busting foods. This tiny, super-sour berry
acidifies the urine and prevents cystitis-causing bacteria from
sticking to the bladder walls. Is it true? Can cranberry juice
cure bladder infections?

A 2008 study from the University of Stirling in Scotland,
published in the Cochrane Library by the Cochrane
Collaboration, found that when women who were prone to
cystitis drank a mixture of cranberry and loganberry juice 16
percent got an infection in the following six months.

Out of those who  did not  drink cranberry juice, 40 percent
got an infection. So, arguably, if you are prone to bladder
infections, cranberry juice can decrease your risk of having a
recurring bladder infection by 60%.

Experts don’t agree on the most effective dose of cranberry
juice. The women in the above study from Scotland drank
between 30ml (about 1 ounce) and 300ml  (about 10
ounces) of juice a day.

Another study (Strothers, L; 2002) suggested that eight
ounces of cranberry juice three times a day significantly
reduced the occurrence of bladder infections. One 1994
study (Avorn J, Monane M, Gurwitz JH, et al) reported in the
Journal of the American Medical Federation looked at 153
women over a period of 6 months who were given 10
ounces of cranberry juice a day. The study found cranberry
juice significantly reduced the levels of bacteria found in the

Many people don’t like the taste of cranberries. If this is a
problem, try capsules of dried cranberry or another
cranberry supplement.

One word of caution. At least one study published in the
journal "Prescrire" in 2005 has found that consuming too
many cranberries while you are also taking the drug warfarin
can cause excessive bleeding. So, if you are taking warfarin
or other blood thinning medications, you should consult your
doctor before treating UTI with cranberries or cranberry

Calcium And Magnesium Can Help Relieve Bladder

Calcium is known to calm stomach cramps and reduce the
urge to visit the bathroom. It works best when combined
with a dose of magnesium.

Magnesium is also effective in neutralizing food acids. Food
acids and allergies may be responsible for causing attacks of
IC and other bladder infection. A 2008 study from the
Department of Urology at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York
found 60.7 percent of patients who took calcium
glycerophosphate felt their symptoms of cystitis improved.
However, the link remains largely unproven.

Vitamin C Can Stop Bladder Infection

Many physicians recommend Vitamin C for bladder infections
because Vitamin C slightly increases acidity levels in the
urine. Acidic urine creates an unfriendly environment for
bacteria and can help slow the growth of e.coli in the
A suggested dose is 1,000 mg for persistent infections. A
2007 Scandinavian study by Ochoa-Brust GJ, Fernandez AR,
Villanueva-Ruiz GJ, et al found taking a daily 100mg dose of
Vitamin C reduced the incidence of bladder infections during

Choosing the Right Underwear Can Make A Big Difference

You may think the type of panties you wear is just a matter
of personal choice and style but it can help reduce the
incidence of bladder infection.

Wear loose fitting cotton underwear to help eliminate the
moist heat in the genital area that bacteria love. Tight nylon
underwear and synthetic pantyhose will do you no favors,
nor will keeping your wet swimsuit on for long periods of

Sexual Intercourse Can Cause Bladder Infections

If you have a bladder infection, bacteria must have got into
the urethra to cause it. One way bacteria can reach the
urethra is through sexual intercourse where bacteria from
the vagina or anus are transferred to the bladder to cause

If you are sexually active, you can reduce the risk of picking
up a bacterial infection by urinating right after intercourse.
This pushes offensive bacteria from the body, as does gently
washing the genital area. The spermicide used to lubricate
condoms can sometimes cause irritation and lead to infection
so use a hypoallergenic brand if you have problems.

Drinking Water Helps Cure Your Bladder Infection

As with so many other conditions, a humble glass of water
can make a big difference to your wellbeing. Regularly
drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day helps flush more urine
through your system, giving bacteria less chance to cling to
the bladder and urethra where it causes infections. It’s
particularly important to drink plenty of water while you are
experiencing an attack, no matter what other form of
treatment you choose alongside it.

Good Hygiene Helps Prevent Bladder Infections   

Sometimes the simple advice works the best. If you stick to
healthy toilet habits you can avoid many incidences of
bladder infection.

Rule Number One-wipe from front to back. It’s good
hygienic practice to wipe from front to back after bowel
movements to prevent bacteria spreading from the anus.

Rule Number Two- stay clean and dry. Keep yourself clean
and dry and avoid using cosmetic products that can dry the
genital area and cause irritation. Irritated or damaged skin is
a better breeding ground for bacteria.

Rule Number Three- don't hold it in. Don’t hold it in – make
sure you urinate when you feel the need. Holding urine in
the body for long periods of time can stretch the bladder and
weaken the muscle. This can prevent the bladder from
effectively expelling all urine and the fluid left behind can
increase infection risk.

Rule number Four-wash after going. And of course, always
wash your hands after visiting the bathroom.

Herbs Can Help Treat Bladder Infection

A variety of herbs and herbal remedies are suggested to be
of benefit to UTI and bladder infection sufferers. Evidence is
not widely available, however, and while some people swear
by a certain herb’s power, others may not notice any

Goldenseal is recommended based on its antibiotic
properties, as are dandelion, juniper and parsley for their
help in increasing urine flow.

Uva Ursi is a relative of the cranberry and contains arbutin,
which breaks down to produce hydroquinone, an antibiotic,
and corilagin, which increases the effectiveness of antibiotics.

One study from the European Scientific Cooperative on
Phytotherapy in 1997 evaluated uva ursi and found it
produced activity in the urine against the major bacteria that
cause bladder infections. More research is needed on this
subject and uva ursi is potentially toxic in large doses so
should be used with caution.

Taking Probiotics Cuts The Risk Of Bladder Infection

Probiotics, or ‘good’ bacteria’, are naturally at home in the
digestive system. A higher level of good bacteria inhibits the
growth of bad bacteria; plus, probiotics help the immune
system and aid digestion, getting rid of potentially infection-
causing wastes.

A 2005 study by Bauer HW, Alloussi S, Egger G, et al looked
at 453 women who had chronic bladder infections at the
start of the trial. Patients received either a placebo or a type
of probiotic for 90 days, had a three month gap in treatment,
then received treatment again. The study found the use of
the probiotic reduced the occurrence of bladder infection by
34 percent.

Some Bladder Infections Are Most Effectively Cured By

The elderly and people with reduced immune systems will
need more rapid help with treating bladder conditions to
ensure the infection does not travel to the kidneys or cause
other complications. Doctors will often prescribe antibiotics
such as Keflex, Bactrim, Ceclor, Cipro, Macrodantin, Ceftin
and Septra. Antibiotics will generally work within two or
three days but shouldn’t be taken for long periods of time to
avoid resistance building up in the body.


Chitosin Helps to Reduce Recurrent Bladder Infections

Twenty five percent of people who suffer from UTIs have a
recurrence within a short time.  Part of the reason bladder
infections recur is that antibiotics can not clear up the
problem completely.  In 2014, scientists from the University
of Utah learned that adding "chitosin", a compound
extracted from shellfish, to antibiotics improves their
effectiveness significantly.

The chitopsin helps to exfoliate the outer layer of the cells of
the bladder, which then allows antibiotics such as
sparfloxacin and ciprofloxacin to enter the cells and destroy
the bacteria there.]

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