Posts Tagged ‘bladder infection’

Cystitis-How To Leave Home Without It

March 11, 2010

What does sex, bubble bath and thongs have in common?  Answer: They may all be causes of cystitis.  If you are a woman who has ever suffered from cystitis then you will know just how debilitating and miserable it can be, you you can perhaps take comfort from the fact that you are far from alone.  It seems that at last 20% of women have had an attack at some point in their lives, and 20% of those will get more than one episode a year.

There is certainly no mistaking the feeling it brings, which usually starts with a strong sensation of needing to urinate.  When you try to go, it either burns horribly, or nothing seems to come out.  You may have a full, uncomfortable sensation in the bladder, plus an aching back and stomach and a general feeling of being unwell.  The most common cause is an infection caused by bacteria.  It isn’t only a female problem but far more common in women than men.  The reason is that the internal plumbing of women is much shorter than in a man and the relationship of the rectum which is usually the source of the bacteria is closer to the urinary tract in women than in men.

A bacteria called E. Coli is usually the culprit.  Since E. Coli coming from the rectum can reside in the vagina and then can have easy access to the urethra or the tube that transmits urine from the bladder to the outside of the body.  This is why it is beneficial for women to wipe from front to back when they use the restroom.  If you swipe the wrong way, you can move the bugs from the rectum into the vagina and then into the urethra.  Another recommendation is to switch from nylon or synthetic underwear to the cooler cotton briefs which discourage the growth of bacteria.  Also, thongs and G strings may be very sexy but they are bad news for cystitis sufferers as the string is an effective way for bacteria to hitch a ride from your bottom to your bladder. Another suggestion is to change the bacterial flora of the gastrointestinal tract.  This can be accomplished by regularly eating yoghurt which contains the good bacteria lactobacillus or acidophilus.

It is also crucial to drink large quantities of water to flush away any bacteria.  Also, it is recommended that sufferers of frequent cystitis go the toilet when you first feel the urge.  The longer you hold in urine, the fuller your bladder is, with more potential for bacteria to grow and proliferate.  Using bubble baths or irritating soaps around the vagina should also be avoided as these agents can upset the delicate balance of acidity and alkalinity in your skin so that bacteria can flourish.

It also appears that sexual intercourse, promotes moving bacteria from the vagina into the urethra.  This then starts the process of bacterial multiplication in the bladder and creates the symptoms of cystitis.  Therefore, it is important for women who get cystitis after intercourse to urinate frequently after sexual intimacy to wash the bacteria out of the urethra so they don’t become permanent residents and create an infection.

For years doctors have recommended cranberries of a method to reduce the attacks of recurrent cystitis.  Initially, it was thought that the cranberries were a source of acid and this prevented cystitis.  Now research has shown that the cranberries contain chemicals that help stop the bacteria from sticking onto the bladder wall.  Because cranberry juice can be quite high in sugar, you might prefer to take one of the cranberry supplements that are available.

Beating back an attack

The first practical step is to consume 2 glasses of water every 20 minutes for the first three hours.  This will help you ladder to flush itself out, and sometimes is enough on it s own to prevent further problems.  If not, gulp down a few glasses of cranberry juice.  Sipping a glass of water with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda stirred into it may help the burning sensation when you urinate.

If these simple measures don’t relieve your symptoms in a day or two, you may need to see your doctor and take a short course of antibiotics.  Failure to treat the infection can result in a much more serious kidney infection.  Also, if you have more than 3-4 infections in a 12 month period you will want to see your doctor to be sure there isn’t something else more ominous causing these infection.

Bladder Spasms – When You Really Gotta Go!

March 7, 2010

Have you ever had that strong desire to urinate or a cramping sensation in your lower abdomen that comes without warning and if you didn’t get to the restroom in a nanosecond, you would urinate on yourself?  Most of us have one of these bladder spasms at one time or another but some people have them all the time and their quality of life is certainly diminished.  This article will discuss the causes and the treatment of bladders spasms.

Causes of bladder spasms

Bladder spasms can occur because of something in your diet, such as alcohol, acidic or citrusy foods, that irritate the bladder.  There are also medications such as diuretics that can make you go to the bathroom frequently.  A urinary tract infection, or an irritation of the nerves that supply the bladder are frequently associated with bladder spasms.  The latter situation is referred to as neurogenic bladder.  Another condition that causes bladder spasms is interstitial cystitis, which is associated with urinary frequency, burning on urination, pelvic pain and bladders spasms.  Bladder spasms are commonly associated with the use of a urinary catheter, which is inserted into the bladder to drain the urine from the bladder to a bag on the outside of the body.  When the catheter is removed, the bladder spasms will quickly subside.  However, there are many times when the cause of bladder spasms cannot be identified.

Who is at risk for bladder spasms?

Anyone at any age can have bladder spasms. You are more likely to have bladder spasms with urine leakage if you:

  • Are elderly
  • Are going through menopause
  • Recently delivered a baby or are pregnant
  • Have a urinary tract infection
  • Have recently had lower abdominal or pelvic surgery
  • Have nerve or bladder muscle damage caused by disease or injury

Treatment of bladder spasms

Your doctor will attempt to identify the cause of your bladder spasms and select an appropriate treatment.  Often a combination of treatments will work best.

Change in diet. This may help prevent bladder pain if certain foods and beverages are the culprit behind your spasms. Avoid spicy, acidic, or citrusy foods, as well as excessive caffeine and alcohol.  Your doctor can provide you with a food list of the most common culprits.

Timed voiding. This involves timed trips to the bathroom to urinate, usually every 1.5 to 2 hours. As the bladder spasms get better and fewer wetting accidents occur, you can extend the time between trips to the bathroom.

Pelvic floor exercises (“Kegels”). Kegels and other forms of physical therapy help strengthen and relax the bladder and other muscles that help the body hold in urine. To tighten your pelvic muscles, squeeze your muscles in the same way as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine or prevent yourself from passing gas. Your doctor can provide you with instructions for performing Kegel exercises.

Medicines to relax the bladder. The most commonly prescribed drugs to prevent spasms are called anticholinergics. They include Detrol, Ditropan, Vesicare, Enablex, Gelnique, and Toviaz.  A common side effect of all of these medications is dry mouth.

Electrical stimulation implant (Inter-Stim). This is placed under the skin to deliver gentle electrical pulses to the bladder at regularly timed intervals. This treatment is only recommended for the most severe bladder spasms that do not get better with other treatments.

Biofeedback. Biofeedback is a method that teaches the mind how to control normally automated body functions. Bladder training is a type of biofeedback. Some doctors believe biofeedback and behavioral changes work better than medicines for treating urge incontinence. A combination of biofeedback and medications may work best.

Bottom Line:  Bladder spasms occasionally occur in nearly everyone.  However, if they are so frequency that they impact your quality of life, then it is time to see your doctor.  Help is available for nearly everyone who suffers from bladders spasms.

Dr. Neil Baum is a physician at Touro Infirmary and can be reached at (504) 891-8454 or via his website,