Urinary Tract Infections : More Common In Women
Urinary tract infections, sometimes called bladder infections, strike women more often than men, and simple anatomy is the cause.
The female urethra is closer to areas that have natural bacteria, such as the anus and vagina. Its also shorter than a mans urethra, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases .
Bladder pain from UTIs can happen at any age. In young women, it is a common symptom of urinary tract infections, along with frequent and painful urination. Symptoms in older women can vary but typically include muscle aches, abdominal pain, fatigue, and weakness.
And though the infection may go away without treatment, antibiotics can speed healing and quickly eliminate uncomfortable symptoms. Drinking extra fluids and urinating frequently will also help treat the infection and your discomfort.
Who Is Most Likely To Develop Bladder Spasms
Anyone at any age can have bladder spasms. In children, bladder spasms are the leading cause of daytime incontinence.
However, you are more likely to have bladder spasms with urine leakage if you:
- Are elderly
- Have recently had lower abdominal or pelvic surgery
- Have bladder muscle damage caused by disease or injury
- Have a neurologic disease such as stroke or spinal cord injury
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.
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I Had No Idea What Bladder Spasms Were
I had never heard of bladder spasms before. According to WebMD, a person’s bladder normally fills up with urine and gradually you feel the need to urinate. But with a bladder spasm, the bladder contracts suddenly and involuntarily, and that urge to go is immediate, overwhelming, and sometimes painful. Bladder spasms are common after surgery, and can be an unhappy consequence of having a catheter, which I would for the three weeks after surgery.
But at the time of my discharge, I knew none of this. I was told that the painkiller and bladder relaxant were just in case I had bladder spasms, and that they could hurt a little, if I got them at all. What I did not realize was that the bladder relaxant kept spasms from happening in the first place, and that they are incredibly common with a catheter in place. So I pocketed the latter two prescriptions and hoped I wouldn’t get a bladder spasm whatever those were.
Unfortunately, I did.
Complementary And Alternative Therapies
Acupuncture. Some research has suggested that bladder-specific acupuncture may significantly reduce bladder muscle contractions and the urge to use the bathroom.
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.
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Q: What Can Patients Expect During A Urodynamic Test
Dr. Johnson: Its a 45-minute office visit. I put a catheter in the vagina, and I fill their bladder with fluid. I fill the bladder at the same rate that their kidneys would naturally fill their bladder. While Im doing that, theyre connected to a machine that tells me how much their bladder can hold. So as theyre filling, I can see if they leak. Ill have them cough at specific points to see if they leak. I also can see if they have that sudden urge to urinate because the test produces a graph, so Ill visually see a spike. It looks like a peak on the graph if their bladder muscle starts spasming.
I also can measure how they empty their bladder. Is their bladder functioning normally? Is it stretching like a balloon to fill, and then does it squeeze with enough force to empty? And when it empties, does it empty well? Because some of these women feel like they dont empty well, yet theyre going every 10 minutes. In reality, many of the women are emptying well, but their bladder is sending faulty signals that it is full when in reality it is empty.
As for the test itself, its not painful. We use a numbing gel before we put the catheter in, and its a small catheter. Patients might feel a little awkward, which is normal, because its awkward to have someone fill your bladder. I leave the room when they empty their bladder, but its still a somewhat awkward, yet incredibly helpful test. Thats why I do it.
What Makes You More Likely To Suffer From Cystitis
Being sexually active Females will sometimes get cystitis from having sex as a result of bacteria entering the urinary tract via the urethra. It is recommended that women pee after sex as this can cleanse the urethra from potentially harmful bacteria which could cause infection.
Wiping from Back to Front After going to the toilet it is recommended that females wipe from front to back as this will help to prevent bacteria from entering the urethra.
Having a urinary catheter inserted into your urethra to help to drain the bladder of urine
If you are pregnant This can place greater pressure on the bladder and therefore make you more susceptible to getting cystitis
Having diabetes High sugar levels in the urine can make the bladder a breeding ground for bacteria.
Using a diaphragm for contraception Spermicides in diaphragms can kill good bacteria in the vagina and therefore increase the chances of bad causing infections
Having a weakened immune system Your immune system may have an overaction to a previous infection and this can therefore make you more prone to bladder infections in the future
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Natural Prevention For Bladder Spasms
To prevent bladder spasms, you can live a healthy lifestyle and avoid triggers for the underlying causes of bladder spasms. Here are a few tips for maintaining your quality of life and your continence.
What can you do to prevent bladder spasms? To promote healthy bladder function and prevent bladder spasms, follow these guidelines:
- Reduce your daily stress
- Exercise regularly.
Additionally, for women, wipe from front to back after defecating. This will avoid transferring bacteria to your urethra. Urethral bacteria is how urinary tract infections happen.
For both men and women, urinate after sex to flush out any bacteria trapped in your urethra. This will help to avoid any UTIs that may trigger bladder spasms.
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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Can You Have Bladder Spasms Without Infection
Symptoms of Bladder Spasms Bladder spasms that cause urinary urgency are most common in older adults who have no established underlying cause. However, certain medical conditions, such as multiple spinal cord disorders, infection, or cancer, may cause bladder spasms.
Further Help For Bladder Pain
If you are concerned about your problem and it is starting to affect your day-to-day life make an appointment to see your doctor as you may need to be referred to a specialist.
If you are experiencing bladder pain you can contact a continence nurse or specialist physiotherapist, who are healthcare professionals who specialise in bladder and bowel problems.
You can also find information about painful bladder / interstitial cystitis on the Bladder Health UK website bladderhealthuk.org, Email , Telephone 0121 702 0820
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Healing An Irritated Bladder
The healthy bladder is coated with a mucosal tissue called the glycosaminoglycan layer, generally referred to as the GAG layer. This layer protects the bladder from direct contact with urine. The GAG layer can become damaged by bacteria or other trauma, such as pelvic surgery, repeated infections, or a complicated pregnancy. I went on a regimen designed to heal the GAG layer.
First of all, go on a low-acid diet. If you look up an Interstitial Cystitis diet or IC diet, you will get varying advice on this. Different people seem to have different triggers. The ones I mention in the “common food triggers” section, should be avoided. Most of them definitely affected me.
One book I read said, “If you wouldn’t put it on an open wound, don’t eat it,” and this resonated with me. So things like hot spices, lemon and vinegar would be off limits. If I ate acidic food, I could feel my bladder burning within 10 minutes.
This list is a good starting point. Pay attention to you body. If you feel worse, ask yourself, “What did I eat?”
What Are The Symptoms Of An Inflamed Bladder
Signs and Symptoms
- Urge to urinate that is heavy and continuous.
- Urinating causes a burning feeling.
- Urine passing in small quantities on a regular basis.
- Urine with blood
- Urine that is cloudy or has a heavy odor.
- Pelvic dissatisfaction
- In the lower abdomen, there is a sense of strain.
- Fever of a low intensity.
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Things You Can Do To Help Interstitial Cystitis
Lifestyle changes will usually be recommended first.
Things that may help improve your symptoms include:
- reducing stress anything that helps you relax, such as exercise or regular warm baths, may help reduce your symptoms, and recent evidence suggests that mindfulness-based techniques, such as meditation, can help
- avoiding certain foods or drinks if you notice they make your symptoms worse but do not make significant changes to your diet without seeking medical advice first
- stopping smoking the chemicals you breathe in while smoking may irritate your bladder
- controlling how much you drink try to reduce the amount you drink before going to bed
- planned toilet breaks taking regular planned toilet breaks may help stop your bladder becoming too full
How Do You Know If You Have Got Bladder Stones
If you are displaying any symptoms of bladder stones including abdominal pain and cloudy/dark urine, then you need to go and see your GP. Here is how your doctor will diagnose bladder stones:
Urinalysis This is used to identify any crystallisation, infection or any another abnormality in your urine.
CT Scan The specific type of CT scan used to diagnose bladder stones is called a Spiral CT scan and is more effective than normal CT scans. This scan will check for any complications within your bladder.
Pelvis ultrasound By using soundwaves, this ultrasound is capable of creating images of the inside of your body and these will help your doctor to see if stones are present within your bladder.
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My Experience With Unexplained Bladder Pain
When I wrote this article in 2012, I had just recovered after suffering from very distressing urinary symptoms for months. I was going to the bathroom every ten minutes, and the only time I felt better was when I was actually peeing. I could not sleep at all, I was mentally distraught and was struggling to function in my daily life.
While I was suffering, I was desperately searching the Internet for some kind of advice. I had to really dig deep to get anything at all. That is what prompted me to write this article.
I am happy to see that now there is actually some advice available from medical websites such as Web MD. I hope this means that doctors are better informed about this problem and that it is leading to better medical care and less suffering. Still, I think it is helpful to hear about the experience from a patient who has been through it and recovered. The doctor’s don’t know what you are going through, but I do.
Some of the subjects I will cover are:
- Symptom relief
- The causes of urinary problems
- Where to turn for help
- What to eat and which foods to avoid
- Supplements I used
Many people have read this article, and many have left their stories in the comments section, where you will find lots of helpful advice. If you are currently suffering, I hope you find something here that will lighten your burden.
What To Eat When You Have Bladder Pain
It can be hard, with just a list of things you can’t have, to figure out what to eat. There are plenty of foods you can still eat.
- Any meat, poultry, fish, or shellfish is OK, except cured meats like bacon or salami.
- Most vegetables other than tomatoes, onions, or hot peppers are fine.
- You can still eat bread, other than rye and sourdough.
- Dairy foods including milk, butter, cottage cheese, American cheese, and vanilla ice cream work. You can start adding some of the milder aged cheeses in small amounts once you start feeling better.
- Pasta, rice, and most cereals are OK.
- Salads can be a problem because of the dressing, but you can try them with herb-infused olive oil and coarse salt.
When you feel better, start slowly adding back foods one at a time. It can be tempting to just go back to your regular eating pattern, but you don’t want to have to start over. I started with a little mayonnaise on my sandwich because I really missed it. Add one food at a time, and take it very slowly.
Most vegetables, meats, breads, and dairy products will be fine.
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Other Natural Remedies For Bladder Spasms
- Drink plenty of water to help flush out any bacteria that may be contributing to bladder spasms
- Add baking soda to your water to further help eliminate bacteria
- Drink cranberry juice
- Always urinate and clean yourself after sexual intercourse
- Chew on garlic or add more garlic to your meals
- Avoid sugary foods and beverages
- Avoid holding in your urine this weakens the bladder muscles over timeAvoid acidic foods, and foods that contain artificial sweeteners these can trigger bladder spasms
How Is Ic Diagnosed
Interstitial cystitis is often mistaken for a urinary tract infection. Patients often go as long as four years between the time they first experience symptoms and the time they receive their diagnosis. It most commonly affects women, although men can get it too.
IC is diagnosed by ruling out other conditions, such as bladder infections or bladder cancer. Also, when it is advanced, it can be diagnosed by cystoscopy, as there will be visible ulcers on the lining of the bladder. For a cystoscopy, you will have to see a urologist. Not all doctors believe a cystoscopy is a necessary or effective way to diagnose the condition since the exam can be normal but you still may have IC.
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Staying On Top Of Medications To Prevent Bladder Spasms
Somehow, despite the pain, I managed to call the nurse hotline at my urologist’s office. Calmly, she explained that the pressure and pain I was feeling was, indeed, a bladder spasm. She told me to take the painkiller they had prescribed and start regularly taking the muscle relaxer. Man, I thought. If I had known a bladder spasm felt like that, I would have taken the medication to begin with!
For the next couple weeks, until I got the all-clear to have my catheter removed, I took my muscle-relaxant religiously. And when one or two smaller muscle spasms occurred, I took the pain meds quickly, before they blossomed into something more painful. And the rest of my recovery went smoothly, for the most part.