Also known as cystitis, these are bacterial infections anywhere in the urinary tract—which includes the bladder, kidneys, ureters and urethra. Most cases are acute, meaning they occur suddenly. UTIs that recur over a period of time are considered chronic. For both types, symptoms generally include pain and an intense burning sensation. Rapid diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent the spread of infection.
Urologists can prescribe medications that relieve the symptoms and kill the bacteria causing the problem. Along with increasing one’s fluid intake to help flush the bacteria, certain dietary changes may be recommended. Among these is taking vitamin C supplements to increase the acidity of the urine and as well as cranberry juice, which contains an agent that keeps bacteria from adhering to the bladder walls.
A healthy adult’s bladder can hold between 12 and 16 ounces of urine comfortably during the day, and even more during the night. How often your bladder fills—and how often you need to urinate—depends on the amount of excess water your body needs to release. While circular muscles called sphincters tighten to keep urine from leaking, certain conditions can lessen this control. Symptoms of overactive bladder include a sudden, intense need to urinate, urge incontinence (see below), and the need to urinate frequently (eight or more times in 24 hours, or awakening two or more times to urinate at night).
A urologist can help resolve the problem through medication, bladder training and lifestyle changes. Other treatments include Kegel exercises or electrical stimulation to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
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