Bladder infections (also called urinary tract infections or cystitis) are common ailments, especially in babies, the elderly and pregnant women. Although generally harmless, the symptoms can be painful and inconvenient. Bladder infections are easily treated with antibiotic therapy. How long it takes to cure the infection depends on several factors, including the severity of the infection and the type of medication used to treat it.
When bacteria that is normally found on the skin or in the intestinal tract finds its way into your urinary system, the result is a bladder infection. The entry point is most often the urethra, a tube by which urine leaves your bladder and exits your body. Bacteria can be spread to the urethra a number of ways, including regular sexual contact or normal bathroom hygiene. Holding your urine for an extended period after you feel the urge to urinate also can cause bacteria build-up.
As with most conditions, the earlier you are diagnosed, the faster you can recover. By having regular medical checkups and being vigilant about unusual symptoms, you can detect a bladder infection in its early stages. Some of the signs to look for are a sudden increase in the urge to urinate or the inability to urinate at all. Cloudy urine or unusually smelly urine also could mean a bladder infection. You may experience pain in your lower back or pelvic region. One of the most common symptoms is dysuria, or painful urination. The bacteria that are present in the urethra can cause a distinct burning sensation whenever you try to urinate.
It should be noted that none of these symptoms mean definitively that you have a bladder infection. If you notice these symptoms, you should see your health care provider immediately for a professional diagnosis. They will be able to give you a urine analysis and tell you if you actually have a bladder infection or if it is something else.
Bladder infections usually start in the urethra and spread to the bladder. If left untreated, your bladder infection can travel up the urinary system, ultimately infecting your kidneys. As a rule, the further up your urinary tract the infection has travelled, the more severe your case it. The severity of your case plays a major role in how long it takes to treat it. Bladder infections are relatively harmless and can be cured in a matter of days or weeks. Kidney infections start the same way as bladder infections but are much more severe. They usually require that you stay at least a few days in the hospital and have antibiotics pumped into your veins through an intravenous drip. Some patients can take months to rehabilitate from a bad kidney infection.
Type of Antibiotics
Most of the time, your health care provider will prescribe antibiotic treatment for a diagnosed bladder infection. There are several types and brands of antibiotics available on the market. Treatment times can be up to two weeks. Women are better candidates for short-term treatment because men tend to be resistant to them. Therefore, men are more likely to be prescribed the longer-term antibiotics. If after a short time on the antibiotics, you start to feel relief from your symptoms, this is normal. However, this does not mean the infection has been cured. It simply means that the medication is working. You should continue to take antibiotics until the entire prescription is gone, regardless of how you may feel. Always follow your health care provider's instructions when taking prescription medication.
If It Doesn't Go Away
In most cases, you will start to feel better after taking your antibiotics for a short time. If you do not, do not panic. You may just need to finish your course of antibiotics. However, if after taking all of the antibiotics your health care provider has prescribed you do not feel relief, you may not have a bladder infection at all. Immediately contact your health care provider so she can perform further tests and adjust her diagnosis.