Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What causes a bladder infection?"
I got a bladder infection last week. What causes a bladder infection? Is it from holding in your urine?
Bladder infections are most commonly caused by bacteria. There are a variety of organisms that can cause the infection, and most commonly they include such bacteria as E coli, Enterococcus, and Streptococcus, to name a few. They typically occur through migration of the bacteria from the external opening of the urethra into the bladder. It is thought that women are much more susceptible to urinary tract infections than men because a woman's urethra is much shorter (only about 4 cm) than a man's urethra, making it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. Holding one's urine is not thought to be a risk factor for developing a bladder infection. Usually a urinary tract infection will resolve with a few days of antibiotics. More complicated infections (such as those that develop in men or in the setting of a bladder catheter) require longer courses of medication. In any case, I recommend a visit with a primary care doctor or OBGYN, who can diagnose you and develop a treatment plan. Feel better!
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