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It's Good to Know the Basics of Bladder Infections

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Sometimes the first symptom of a bladder infection -- which is more common than you might think -- is a need to urinate more often than usual. Add to that any discomfort, pressure or pain in your pelvis or lower abdomen and these could be the signs of a bacterial infection in your urinary tract.

Believe it or not, at least one woman out of five will contract a urinary tract infection, or UTI, sometime in her life. The UTI can cause inflammation of the kidney (relatively rare) or the urethra (more common), or it could move along the urethra to the bladder, causing cystitis, which is the most common UTI.

A fact sheet from Womenshealth.gov spells out the main symptoms of a bladder infection or UTI:

-- Pain or stinging when you pass urine.
-- A frequent urge to pass urine, even if not much comes out.
-- Pressure in the lower abdomen.
-- Urine that smells foul or looks milky, cloudy or reddish in color (which could indicate blood).
-- Feeling tired or shaky or having a fever.

Interestingly, women in menopause can find themselves with recurrent bladder infections, noted the University of Maryland Medical Center. As estrogen is waning, the vaginal wall changes and the urethral wall thins, making the area more vulnerable to germs. Also, women as they age sometimes develop urinary incontinence, which in itself increases the risk for a UTI.

Whatever age you are, you might sense that something is wrong when it comes to your bathroom habits, but how well would you be able to detect a possible bladder infection with your children?

According to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, UTIs annually affect about 3 percent of children in the United States and account for more than 1 million visits to pediatricians’ offices. The infections are much less common in boys than girls, just as the infections hit women much more often than men.

Females have shorter urethras, which makes it easier for bacteria to travel from the anus to the tube that carries urine out of the body. Even so, boys with any kind of blockage in the urinary tract can get an infection.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.