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What is the Most Common Cause of a Bladder Infection?

A bladder infection, also called a urinary tract infection or UTI, is a painful and uncomfortable condition that usually results from exposure to bacteria. Women are particularly susceptible to bladder infections, although men can sometimes get them as well. Most often, the cause of a bladder infection is when normal gastrointestinal bacteria is transferred into the bladder or urethra.

The body contains many different types of bacteria, many of which are not usually harmful. Escherichia coli, more commonly known as E. coli, is a bacteria normally present in the digestive system and fecal matter that can easily be transferred into the urethral tract and be the cause of a bladder infection. Doctors say that this single bacteria is the most common cause of a bladder infection.

There are several different ways that bacteria can reach the urinary tract and be the cause of a bladder infection. Sexual intercourse can easily allow bacteria to be swept away from the anal region and toward the urethra, and is considered one of the most common ways to contract an infection. Incorrect wiping with toilet paper, such as wiping from back to front, can also allow bacteria to reach the bladder.

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Hygiene is an important part of eliminating the transfer of bacteria that can be the cause of a bladder infection. In addition to proper wiping techniques, washing the body and changing underwear daily or after exercise can go a long way to preventing a UTI. Some doctors also believe that avoiding tight fitting or thong underwear, or using only cotton underwear may help lower the risk of infection, but this is not universally agreed upon.

Since it is so easy for bacteria to make its way into the urethra, it may seem strange that people do not constantly suffer from bladder infections. The bladder does have some limited protection against infection, mainly by maintaining an acidic balance that prevents bacteria from multiplying. Some people are unable to maintain this balance, and thus may suffer from chronic bladder infections. Doctors often recommend a regimen of cranberry juice or caplets, or ongoing antibiotic treatment to help reduce the frequency of infection.

Infection of the bladder may sometimes be confused with urethritis, or infection of the urethra. These conditions present many of the same systems, and may sometimes be caused by the same factors. Urethritis, however, is also sometimes the result of a sexually transmitted disease. Anyone who has had unsafe sexual contact may want to get checked for STDs before simply assuming the condition is a UTI.

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