When Should I See A Doctor About A Painful Bladder
As a woman, you may be familiar with the sensations that accompany urinary tract infections . Women are affected more often than men, and prompt treatment is key to both relieving the painful symptoms as well as preventing complications from the infection spreading to the kidneys and beyond.
However, UTIs arent the only cause of bladder pain or discomfort. Other conditions can cause similar symptoms, some of which again affect women than men. Understanding these less common conditions can help you make sound decisions about your health care. Contact Southeast Urogyn any time bladder pain concerns you or interferes with your daily life.
The Standard Uti Test Cannot Grow Most Bacteria
The standard urine culture method does not mimic the environment in the bladder. As we described above, a urine culture uses a specific medium, and specific conditions over a short frame of time.
The vast majority of all known organisms will not grow in these conditions. And many organisms that may be perfectly happy residing and multiplying in the bladder, will not grow in the environment of a culture plate.
This means the standard urine culture methods are just not able to identify all UTI-causing pathogens. The figure below shows organisms that have been identified in the bladder using expanded culture protocols. The markings can be interpreted as follows:
- Orange stars Bacteria known to be associated with UTIs or to make UTIs worse, but are not detected by SUC.
- Yellow arrows Known uropathogens that are not detected by SUC.
- Dark red arrows Organisms that SUC detects.
- Unmarked Not much is known about the unmarked organisms. Some of them might be beneficial , some benign , and some might be undiscovered uropathogens. More research is needed.
Alternative testing methods, like EQUC, PCR and NGS have been able to identify many pathogens that do not grow in a urine culture.
What Is Interstitial Cystitis
Painful bladder syndrome or bladder pain syndrome, also commonly known as interstitial cystitis, is a chronic inflammation of the bladder wall. It is not caused by bacteria and does not respond to conventional antibiotic therapy. It can affect both women and men, although it is more common in women.
It can be a long and difficult process to correctly diagnose painful bladder syndrome. The disease affects individuals in different ways. There are no generalised symptoms and day-to-day life is seriously upset. It is important to rule out any other conditions that have similar symptoms to painful bladder syndrome, such as cancer, kidney problems, vaginal infections and neurological disorders. Painful bladder syndrome is often debilitating and can cause feelings of desperation and despair.
There is no cure for this condition and there is no one individual specific treatment that works for everyone. People who suffer from painful bladder syndrome need to investigate ways to help themselves manage the condition. Unfortunately, it is a case of trial and error for the patient.
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Further Investigation If Simple Treatments Dont Help
Depending on your particular symptoms, your doctor may recommend:
- Less common medications for bladder pain
- Cystoscopy and hydrodistension under anaesthesia with diathermy of any ulcers found
- Pelvic Physiotherapy. This is particularly useful where there is spasm or tensing of the muscles around the bladder, making the bladder pain worse. This can happen without you realising the muscles are tight. There is information on the management of pelvic muscle pain on other pages on this site.
- A bladder installation . Soothing medicine is inserted into the inflamed painful bladder through a small catheter inserted through the urethra into the bladder. This can be done in the doctors office or treatment centre. If you find it helpful, you doctor may teach you how to do this at home. A common plan for installation might include installation once a week for 6 weeks, with top-up treatments when your problems return.
- Other treatments depending on your personal situation
Over time, your bladder pain may change and need different treatments. You can expect that there will be times when the pain is easier to manage than others. It may even go away altogether for months or years at a time then come back at a time when you are stressed or run-down. Treatments are always improving and evolving. Even if a particular treatment hasnt worked for you in the past, there may be newer treatments that suit you well.
Bladder Pain In Women And Men
Bladder pain is more common in women. This is likely due to the fact that the two most common causes of bladder pain urinary tract infections and interstitial cystitis more often affect women than men. It may be also due to the fact that the bladder comes into direct contact with a womans reproductive organs, which may cause irritation and aggravate symptoms.
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Diagnosis And Tests For Interstitial Cystitis
There is no reference standard test for the diagnosis of interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. Adding to the complexity of diagnosis, numerous conditions have overlapping symptoms.
Your doctor will ask you questions about your medical history. He or she may also ask you to keep track of how much fluid you drink, how often your urinate and how much urine you pass.
Your doctor will rule out other diseases such as urinary tract infections, bladder cancer, endometriosis, kidney stones, sexually transmitted infections, chronic prostatitis in men and vaginal infections in women.
Your doctor may also refer you to a urologist . The urologist may use a special scope to look inside your bladder for inflammation, pinpoint bleeding or ulcers. These things could indicate that you have interstitial cystitis.
Pelvic floor musclerelated pain
*Listed in descending order of importance.
The examination should include a bimanual pelvic examination in women and digital rectal examination in men. Examination of patients with interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome may reveal pelvic floor spasms, rectal spasms, or suprapubic tenderness. In women, anterior vaginal wall and bladder base tenderness may be present.
Intravesical Potassium Sensitivity Test
Anesthetic Bladder Challenge
Other Urologic Testing
Should I Limit The Amount Of Fluids I Drink
No. Many people with bladder pain syndrome think they should drink less to relieve pain and reduce the number of times they go to the bathroom. But you need fluids, especially water, for good health. Getting enough fluids helps keep your kidneys and bladder healthy, prevent urinary tract infections, and prevent constipation, which may make your symptoms worse.9
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In The Meantime There Are A Few Things You Can Do For A Little Relief
Drink water lots of it. Getting in the recommended eight glasses of water per day can help flush the bacteria out of your bladder and make you heal a bit faster. Limit your caffeine or sugary drinks though, as they can irritate you bladder.
When you gotta go, go. Holding your urine when you really have to go gives time for the bacteria in your system to multiply, making it harder to get rid of.
Talk to your doctor about over the counter pain relievers. While these wont cure a UTI, they may help give you a bit of relief while youre waiting for the antibiotics to treat the infection.
Rest. Getting enough rest gives your body the energy it needs to be able to fight off an infection. Make sure you are getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Wear loose clothing. Not only will this be more comfortable for you during this time, but it might also prevent bacteria growth. Bacteria grow the quickest in moist, warm environments so ditch the skinny jeans for a week or so and opt for loose trousers, skirts or dresses.
Follow the steps above for quick relief from UTIs.
Treatments For Interstitial Cystitis
Unfortunately, there’s currently no cure for interstitial cystitis and it can be difficult to treat, although a number of treatments can be tried.
But no single treatment works for everyone, and there’s disagreement about how effective some of them are.
You may need to try several treatments to find one that works for you.
Medicines and other therapies may be used if lifestyle changes not help, and surgery may be necessary as a last resort.
How To Get Rid Of A Bladder Infection Fast
If youre reading this post, youre likely in the midst of a bladder infection or urinary tract infection and are in some serious need of relief now! We get it UTIs are no fun they can be really painful, leave you rushing to the bathroom nonstop, and can even lead to leaks. So its no wonder youre researching quick cures for bladder infections.
The best thing you can do for fast relief from a bladder infection is to is see your doctor, and get an antibiotic.
Antibiotics kill the bacteria that causes bladder infections and are the best way to stop a UTI in its tracks. They typically work pretty quickly, although be sure to take your medication for the full course, even if youre feeling better sooner than that. So, if youve been experiencing a UTI for more than a couple of days, make an appointment with your doctor now to get treatment.
Changes In Your Reproductive System
Bladder pain in women may also be a result of thinning vaginal skin, says Karl Luber, MD, a urogynecologist and a founder of the female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery fellowship program at UCSDKaiser Permanente in San Diego.
This is called atrophy and it’s most common when menopause deprives the tissues surrounding the vagina of estrogen, he explains. Oral estrogen doesnt help, but a vaginal estrogen cream may ease symptoms.
Talking with your doctor about bladder pain and discomfort can help determine where the problem really lies, Dr. Luber says.
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Interstitial Cystitis Self Help
DietPaying close attention to your diet and avoiding foods that cause IC flares is one of the most effective things you can do to control your symptoms. Managing your stress is another way to help your body cope.
- IC-Smart Diet Guidelines A printable chart showing, in general, the kinds of foods that are likely to cause flares. Provided by the makers of Elmiron.
- Potential Bladder Irritant Food List Urology San Antonios custom list of foods are likely to aggravate urinary difficulties.
- Prelief Over the counter acid reduction tablets you take before a meal.
- Food/Symptom Diary A journal to track your diet and IC symptoms. Provided by the makers of Elmiron.
ClothingSome people find that wearing modified clothing helps them avoid the pelvic muscle tension that can trigger pelvic pain.
- Mens Ballroom Jeans sold by Deluth Trading Co. have a modified crotch gusset designed to be more comfortable when you crouch or bend
- A seamstress or tailor can alter pants to include an elastomeric fabric in the crotch to achieve the same effect as the Ballroom Jeans. Expect to pay about $10-20 a pair for the alteration.
IC WebsitesThere are plenty of websites devoted to IC. Here are a few of our favorites. Remember, not all of the information you read online is accurate. Always seek your doctor or health care providers guidance before you act on any information that could affect your health.
Other Ways To Ease Bladder Pain
Of course, if either a UTI or urinary stasis is causing your bladder pain, youll need prescription medication.
But your discomfort could be just another uncomfortable symptom of pregnancy. You may be happy to hear that there is, in fact, a beneficial tool you can use. Look for something called a maternity support belt.
This is an excellent tool to support your growing belly. It will take some of the pressure off your bladder by elevating your bump. It was something magical I discovered in my second pregnancy, and Im so glad I did.
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Urethra Pain Not A Uti What Is Causing It
The urethra is the tube through which urine is excreted from the bladder. In men, the tube is long and is located within the penis, while in women, it is shorter and is located in the pelvis. A man or woman may get urethra pain that is either sharp or dull, comes and goes, or remains constant. Most people will associate such pain with urinary tract infection. However, urethral pain may arise from other causes.
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Can You Have A Bladder Infection Without Pain
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Get A Diagnosis Not A Self
Its also important to consider whether the uterus and other organs of the gynecological system could be causing bladder pain, Siddiqui says, as they are close to the bladder. Pelvic floor dysfunction, such as tightness or spasms of the pelvic muscles, commonly occurs with bladder pain and may make bladder pain worse, she explains. Pelvic pain can also be caused by endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, or ovarian cysts. Additionally, gastrointestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel diseases can sometimes be the source of pelvic pain, notes Mayo Clinic.
If none of these conditions are present and women have ongoing bladder pain, they are typically treated for bladder pain syndrome, which refers to painful conditions of the bladder where other causes such as UTI and cancer have been excluded,” says Siddiqui.
The bottom line for women to keep in mind: Dont self-diagnose your bladder pain. Addressing and treating the issue can offer relief for body and mind.
Main Causes Of Bladder Pain
he exact causes of Painful Bladder Syndrome are unknown, with a number of theories being put forward. One such theory suggests an event may act as a trigger to bring on the pain.
Some of these triggers may be:
- Bacterial infection
- Bladder overextension due to long periods without going to the bathroom
- An injury to the nerves in or surrounding the bladder or spinal cord
- Problem due to a surgical procedure or physical injury
Others theorise the symptoms of PBS may arise from several different abnormalities in the bladder itself specifically: the bladder surface, the blood supply to the bladder or to microorganisms present in the bladder.
> And yet more suggest bladder pain bladder may result from autoimmunity , or from the release of histamine from elevated numbers of mast cells in the bladder.
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What Does Bladder Pressure Feel Like
The most noticeable symptom of IC is pain and pressure in the bladder. The pain you experience may range from mild to severe. For some, the pressure can come and go. For others, the feeling doesnt let up.
These symptoms may lead you to think that you have a bladder infection, but IC isnt an infection at all. Its a chronic condition, which means that there isnt cure.
Other symptoms of IC include:
- pelvic pain
- pain while bladder is full and relief when its emptied
- pain during sex
Signs and symptoms vary. Some people may need to urinate up to 60 times each day. You may also experience periods of time when you have no symptoms.
Although IC isnt a UTI, getting an infection can make your symptoms worse.
How Do Utis Begin
Many types of bacteria live in the intestines and genital area, but this is not true of the urinary system. In fact, urine is sterile. So when errant bacteria, such as the E. coli shown here, is accidentally introduced into the urinary system, it can start a UTI. Typically, bacteria travel up the urethra to the bladder, where an infection can take hold. Women are more susceptible than men, probably because they have shorter urethras.
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Changes In Bladder Habits Or Symptoms Of Irritation
Bladder cancer can sometimes cause changes in urination, such as:
- Having to urinate more often than usual
- Pain or burning during urination
- Feeling as if you need to go right away, even when your bladder isn’t full
- Having trouble urinating or having a weak urine stream
- Having to get up to urinate many times during the night
These symptoms are more likely to be caused by a urinary tract infection , bladder stones, an overactive bladder, or an enlarged prostate . Still, its important to have them checked by a doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
What Is A Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection often called a UTI is an infection of any part of your urinary system. This includes your:
UTIs can be classified as involving the upper tract or the lower tract . Since infections usually come into the urethra from the outside, most infections involve the lower tract. UTIs can affect people of all ages, and they tend to be more common in women. In fact, some studies have shown that women are eight times more likely than men to develop a UTI.
The most common cause of a UTI is a bacteria called Escherichia coli , which causes more than 80% of infections outside of the hospital. Other types of bacteria and certain types of fungi and viruses can also cause UTIs.
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