The best known symptoms of bladder infection are: pain or burning on urination, frequent urgent urination, and sometimes blood in the urine.
These symptoms are not always caused by infection due to bacteria. They can also be due to a viral infection or even to excessive use of caffeine- containing beverages (coffee, tea, etc.). Sometimes there may be no obvious cause for pain on urination. Excessive frequency may be due to anxiety. When the cause is not bacterial infection, then antibiotics will do no good.
In men with these symptoms there may be infection of the bladder, of the prostate gland (prostatitis) or venereal disease. With prostatitis, difficulty in starting urination and decreased force of the urinary stream are often present, with a constant deep- seated ache just behind the genitalia. Venereal disease causing pain on urination is often accompanied by a discharge from the penis.
Infection in the kidney may cause symptoms similar to bladder infection but is often accompanied by back pain, or pain in the sides, and fever. This requires more vigorous treatment and investigation. A stone in the kidney may cause pain in the side which is often severe and passage of blood in the urine, but does not usually cause pain on urination. If there is ever severe pain in the side, consult a doctor quickly.
Passing blood in the urine is never normal and should always be investigated by a doctor. If this is accompanied by painful urination then there may be an infection, but if blood is passed without pain the likely causes are potentially more serious, e.g. bleeding from the bladder or prostate gland, a stone or growth in a kidney or the bladder. Thorough investigation will be needed to find the exact cause.
The doctor should be consulted, but even if an antibiotic is required it may not relieve the symptoms straight away. Quicker relief may be afforded by prompt home treatment as soon as symptoms begin. This is good first- aid and may even lessen the severity of the infection.
• Drink a lot of fluid. At the first sign of symptoms drink half a pint of fluid every twenty minutes for at least three hours. The bacteria are literally washed away from the body during the resulting copious urination.
• Take bicarbonate of soda. One teaspoonful in a glass of water three times a day (adults only, and not for anyone with heart disease). This will help to neutralise the very acid urine produced by the infection and so relieve discomfort.
Having started first- aid treatment make an appointment to see the doctor.
What the Doctor Will Do
Take a specimen of urine which will be examined under a microscope and possibly also sent to a hospital laboratory for bacteria to be identified. The abdomen and genitalia are usually examined. The prostate gland and base of the bladder may be examined by the doctor performing a rectal examination.
If infection is present an antibiotic will be prescribed. Further investigations for infection or other causes of blood in the urine may include special X- rays of the kidneys and sometimes referral to a urologist (specialist surgeon for kidney and bladder problems).