Female bladder infections: causes, symptoms, treatment options
Urinary urgency, problems or pain when urinating? Maybe a urinary tract infection or a bladder infection is the cause. How is this condition diagnosed and how can it be treated? And why does cystitis affect women more often than men? All these questions are answered and explained below.
What is cystitis?
Cystitis or bladder infection is an infection of the lower urinary tract. It is usually caused by bacteria, although parasites or fungi can also be the cause. If the germs enter the bladder from the outside through the urethra, the bladder wall becomes inflamed. Men are rarely affected, whereas cystitis can often affect a woman. An uncomplicated bladder infection usually heals without problems with the help of herbal medicines and home remedies. However, if symptoms last for several days or worsen, it is advisable to see a doctor.
Female bladder infection: typical causes and risk factors
Cystitis affects women four times more often than men (cite source). Several factors can influence the development of cystitis in women:
- Escherichia coli bacteria are found in the normal human intestinal flora and are the most common trigger of cystitis. Because the urethral outlet and the intestinal outlet are located closer together in women, the bacteria can enter the urethra more easily. In addition, the female urethra is much shorter than the male urethra. The bacteria, therefore, find their way into the bladder more quickly.
- Other pathogens such as streptococci, staphylococci, Proteus mirabilis or fungi such as Candida albicans (yeast fungus) can also cause cystitis.
- Last but not least, low fluid intake, excessive toilet or intimate hygiene or certain diseases such as diabetes can also promote a bladder infection.
Bladder infection: Common symptoms in women
An uncomplicated bladder infection can be recognised by various, usually unpleasant, signs of illness. These include:
- A frequent urge to urinate despite a small amount of urine
- Burning and pain when urinating
- Cramping pains in the lower abdomen and bladder
- Cloudy colour and noticeable odour of the urine.
When should a doctor be consulted?
Usually, a beginning, uncomplicated urinary tract infection can be treated well with herbal medicines. Under the following circumstances, however, you should consult a doctor if you have a bladder infection. Please see a doctor as soon as ...
- the infection lasts longer than three days and the symptoms do not improve noticeably.
- blood is visible in the urine.
- you develop a fever or severe back pain. An increased body temperature, for example, can be a sign that the infection is on the rise.
- you are pregnant. A bladder infection during pregnancy can lead to serious complications.
- you suffer from diabetes mellitus or take medication that weakens the immune system.
- you regularly suffer from bladder infections.
How can you avoid recurrent bladder infections as a woman?
If you frequently suffer from urinary tract infections, you can try to prevent them with the help of a few tricks:
- Drink one and a half to two litres of water daily: Hydration not only is beneficial for your health but the bladder is also rinsed properly and possible pathogens are flushed out preventively.
- Going to the toilet regularly: Don't empty your bladder when it is already full. Try to empty it completely several times a day. You should go to the toilet especially after sexual intercourse: Germs that could lead to a bladder infection are removed promptly in this way.
- Cotton instead of synthetics: Underwear made of soft natural fibres is air-permeable and regulates heat. Germs, therefore, have less chances to multiply. Always wash your underwear at 60 degrees Celsius.
- Intimate hygiene: Do not use perfumed soaps or shower gels. These can change the PH- value of the vaginal environment and make the intimate area more vulnerable to germs. Lukewarm water is sufficient for thorough cleaning.
- After going to the toilet, clean from the front to the back: This prevents E-coli bacteria from the intestine from entering the urethra.
- Avoid cold and damp: Cold feet in winter or a wet swimming costume in summer can cause hypothermia. This weakens the body's defences and pathogens of a bladder infection have an easier job.
Female bladder infection: What remedies can people use themselves?
You can treat an uncomplicated bladder infection yourself with home remedies and over-the-counter preparations from the pharmacy. The following measures are possible:
- Drink plenty of water: water and diuretic teas (for example, Harntee Steiner®) flush the germs out of the bladder more quickly. The special tea infusion contains dry extracts of goldenrod, birch leaves, and Java Tea leaves.
- Warmth in the form of hip baths, cherry stone pillows, or moist compresses in the bladder area relaxes the muscles and relieves pain. For example, Kamillan® Pharma Wernigerode can be used for a hip bath.
- Herbal medicines made from medicinal plants such as goldenrod have a diuretic/flushing, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic effect. Solidago Steiner® has proved its worth in acute cystitis and irritable bladder. In addition to its comprehensive mode of action, Solidago Steiner® is characterised by good tolerability.
Medical treatment of cystitis in women
If self-treatment with herbal remedies is not successful, a doctor should be consulted and the need for additional drug therapy clarified.
- Antibiotics are prescribed by the doctor in case of severe symptoms, complicated courses, or recurring cystitis. If the first signs of a bladder infection are treated quickly with home remedies, they can be avoided, but this is not always the case. The appropriate remedy then depends on the type of infection. Even if the symptoms generally improve quickly, antibiotic therapy should not be terminated prematurely to avoid a possible relapse. In the case of recurring infections, the doctor can also arrange for an antibiogram to be made. This can detect possible resistance of the bacteria to certain antibiotics. In this way, the right antibiotic can be determined in a targeted manner.
- If you suffer from pain, taking IbuAristo® akut is an option. If you are unsure, please atalk to your doctor first.
For those who suffer regularly or chronically from bladder infections, so-called active immunisation through the injection of inactive germs may be another option. The body learns to defend itself better against common pathogens. You should discuss with your doctor whether a vaccination makes sense in your case.
Urinary stones: Causes, symptoms and therapy
Crystals in the body: Everything about urinary stones
Urinary stones are a common condition: About one in 20 Germans is affected at least once in their lives. They often go unnoticed for a long time and can suddenly become noticeable through painful colic and inflammation. In this article you will learn how urinary stones develop, how they are diagnosed and what treatment options are available.
What are urinary stones?
Urinary stones are crystalline deposits that can occur in the bladder, ureters or kidney. The stones, also called uroliths, are formed from substances contained in urine. These include calcium, oxalate, cystine, uric acid and phosphate. If these substances are not flushed out as usual, they can form crystals. This can happen, for example, if the urine has a particularly high concentration of these substances. The deposits can be very small - this is sometimes referred to as "kidney gravel". However, they can also grow to a size of several centimetres.
What types of urinary stones are there?
Depending on where in the urinary tract the stones are found, a distinction is made between kidney stones, ureteral stones and bladder stones. In addition to their localization, the deposits can also be differentiated according to their composition: About 80-85% of all urinary stones consist mainly of calcium oxalates. In addition, stones consisting of uric acid or calcium phosphates occur in about 10 percent of cases. Less common are specimens consisting of magnesium-ammonium-phosphate or cystine. However, many urinary stones are mixed forms that contain different components.
Urinary stones: How do they develop?
The causes of urinary stones cannot always be clearly identified. It seems that there are people who have a predisposition for the formation of the crystals, especially if there are already urinary stone diseases in the family. However, there are a number of other risk factors that favour the formation of urinary stones. These include:
- lack of exercise
- too little intake of fluids
- diseases such as gout, high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus
- congenital metabolic diseases, especially cystinuria
- urethral contractions
- nutrition rich in protein and oxalic acid
- urinary tract infections
In addition, men suffer from urinary stones about twice as often as women. The typical age of onset of the disease is between 25 and 50 years. Children are only rarely affected.
What symptoms cause urinary stones?
Urinary stones can often remain unnoticed for a long time. Sometimes they are discovered by chance during a medical examination. If symptoms occur, they can vary greatly in severity: If the symptoms are mild, there is a slight pulling in the groin or kidney area. Smaller urinary stones can also become noticeable by a slight prick when urinating.
If larger stones migrate into the ureter, this often causes sudden, very severe pain. This is then called a colic. This can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, blood in the urine, fever and chills, and problems while urinating. If you experience acute, severe pain in the abdomen, stomach or back, you should always consult a doctor.
How are urinary stones diagnosed?
If urinary stones are suspected, there are several examination methods available to the doctor to confirm the diagnosis:
- First of all, a urine sample is usually examined: small crystals and an increased number of red blood cells can indicate the presence of urinary stones.
- An accompanying blood test provides information about inflammation values, kidney function and possible concomitant diseases that are suspected of promoting urinary stones.
- Finally, imaging techniques play an important role in the diagnosis of urinary stones: An uncomplicated ultrasound examination can already detect many stones.
- However, sometimes this is not enough to make a reliable diagnosis. In such cases, an X-ray examination, in which the patient is given a special contrast medium in advance, can be useful. In this so-called excretory urography, the path of the urine through the urinary tract and any blockages can be made visible.
Occasionally, a CT scan is also carried out, in which the position and size of the stones can be examined very closely.
How can urinary stones be treated?
Urinary stones, which are only a few millimetres in size, are often excreted by themselves with the urine after some time. A sufficient amount of drinking is conducive to this. In the case of larger or particularly stubborn deposits, however, it is often necessary to provide additional help. Drugs such as Blemaren® N can help dissolve the stones. They change the pH value of the urine so that certain types of urinary stones are broken down more easily. They can also help to prevent the formation of new urinary stones, which usually have a high risk of recurrence. If these measures are not sufficient and the stones are very large and may already be causing colic, they must be removed by a doctor. This is done, for example, by means of shock wave therapy, in which the crystals are shattered with the help of sound waves, or by means of an endoscopic procedure.
How can the formation of urinary stones be prevented?
Anyone who has once suffered from urinary stones has a relatively high risk of being affected by the unpleasant deposits again. However, if the stones are not the cause of the disease, changes in lifestyle can help to prevent a recurrence:
- Drinking: A fluid intake of 2 to 2.5 litres per day, preferably water, reduces the risk of urinary stones.
- Nutrition: Foods rich in oxalic acid favour the development of urinary stones. Oxalic acid is found more abundantly in certain vegetables and cereals, such as rhubarb, spinach, beetroot and amaranth. These foods should be eaten sparingly if you have a tendency to urinary stones. A protein-rich diet should also be avoided.
- Exercise: Regular exercise facilitates the removal of small crystals, so that they do not easily develop into larger deposits.
If the tendency to urinary stones is due to illness or runs in the family, special preparations for prevention can be used in addition to the measures mentioned above. These contain, for example, citric acid or sodium citrate, which effectively counteract the formation of calcium crystals in the urine.
Problems with urination: Which diseases are behind it?
The urinary system is a single functional biological unit. It includes the kidneys, the elimination organs that remove metabolic waste products from the body – i.e., produce urine – and regulate the essential water and electrolyte balance at the same time. New urine that is produced in the renal corpuscles (medical: nephrons) collects in the renal bed and flows to the bladder via the ureter. The bladder is used for storage. Once it is filled with a certain amount, the "urge to urinate" is signalled, which leads to excretion of the urine through the urethra. This mechanism of urine excretion (medical: miction) is a controlled and automatic process in healthy people. Physiological urine is practically germ-free, slightly acidic to neutral, and transports the excretory products in solubilised form. If these finely tuned conditions change, urological symptoms result that can appear in acute or asymptomatic (latent) forms. External factors can also be responsible, such as pathogens that have entered the urethra and trigger acute inflammation, or other factors, such as changes in metabolic activities or prostate growth.
Many of the observed symptoms are due to disorders in the natural urine flow or urination that doctors often diagnose as urinary tract infections or bladder infections (caused by infections or non-infectious conditions), dysuric complaints (uncomfortable or painful urination), or pain caused by benign prostate enlargement. Urinary stones are another very common cause of the disease process (medical: urolithiasis). Many urologists therefore classify urinary stones as a widespread disease. Hyperacidification of the urine plays a central control in their formation. It results from an oversaturation of the minerals (electrolytes) that are normally solubilised in the urine. Often stones form slowly and unnoticed when small crystals ("gravel") first form that can gradually grow to become larger stones.
Treatment of urinary problems with medication
The specialist term "urologics" describes a group of diverse medicines that have one thing in common. They are used to treat "urologic" diseases and pain, i.e., in the broadest sense disorders of the urinary system.
If you are a patient or interested, you can find information about symptoms and causes of bladder Infections and treatment with plant-based medicine here.
You can find information about urinary stones, prevention, development, causes and treatment with medication here.