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Bladder Infections Happen in Men Too
Normal urine is sterile. It contains fluids, salts, and waste products, but not bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Cystitis, more commonly known as a bladder infection, occurs when microorganisms, such as bacteria from the digestive tract, cling to the opening of the urethra and begin to multiply and irritate the lining of the urinary system.
Bladder infections are generally much less common in men than in women. This is because men have a longer urethra, the tube that drains urine from the bladder and out of the body. This makes it more difficult for bacteria to reach the bladder and cause infection. Although urinary tract infections in men are not common, they can be very serious.
What Causes a Bladder Infections in Men?
When small amounts of urine remain in the bladder, this creates a perfect environment for bacteria to multiply and cause infection. In men, this poor emptying of the bladder is often due to an enlarged prostate, called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Because BPH commonly develops as men age, bladder infections occur more frequently in men over the age of 50.
Other risk factors of bladder infections in men include:
- Having a catheter inserted to drain urine from the body
- Having diabetes or a condition that affects your immune system
- Having another condition that affects the urinary tract, such as kidney stones, bladder stones, narrowing of the urethra, neurogenic bladder, or prostate cancer
- Multiple sex partners
- Inconsistent or improper use of latex condoms
Symptoms of Bladder Infections in Men
The symptoms of bladder infection vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms may include:
- Frequent and urgent need to urinate
- Passing only small amounts of urine
- Pain in the abdomen, pelvic area, or lower back
- Burning sensation during urination
- Leaking urine
- Increased need to get up at night to urinate
- Cloudy, bad-smelling urine
- Low-grade fever
If the infection is severe enough to inflame the bladder wall, it may also cause blood in the urine and leave it looking cloudy. If you have symptoms of a bladder infection, it is important for you to see your doctor so it can be promptly treated.
Treatment of Bladder Infections in Men
Treatment depends on the complexities of the infection. It typically involves taking an antibiotic for one week. Antibiotics may be needed for 2-6 weeks if fever or prostatitis (infection of the prostate) is present. Most men feel better within a few days of beginning the antibiotic. It is important to take the full course of antibiotics prescribed, even when you are feeling better, to make sure the infection is completely treated. Your doctor may recommend further testing if you have other symptoms, like a fever and a recurrent infection.
Things to Watch For
Certain conditions have similar symptoms to those of a bladder infection. If you have recurring infections or if no infection can be found, your doctor may look for one of the following conditions:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders
Urology Care Foundation
Canadian Urological Association
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) (pyelonephritis and cystitis). EBSCO DynaMed website. Acute cystitis in adults. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 24, 2015. Accessed November 6, 2015.
Urinary tract infections in adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/urologic-disease/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults/Pages/facts.aspx. Updated May 24, 2012. Accessed November 6, 2015.
Urinary tract infections in adults. Urology Care Foundation website. Available at: http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/urinary-tract-infections-in-adults. Accessed November 6, 2015.
Your urinary tract and how it works. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Anatomy/urinary-tract-how-it-works/Pages/anatomy.aspx. Updated January 22, 2014. Accessed November 6, 2015.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 10/2015
- Update Date: 11/06/2015