By Steve Woodhouse
Bladder infections are the most common bacterial infections in women, with one-half of all women experiencing at least one in their lifetime. Although bladder infections may not be thought of as a serious condition, nearly one-half of participants reported that their symptoms caused them to miss work or school. An estimated six days of discomfort can be expected, which can be disruptive to a woman’s life.
If you experience symptoms that could indicate a bladder infection, the policy at Pella Regional’s family of clinics in Bussey, Knoxville, Monroe, Ottumwa, Pella and Sully is to require patients to make an appointment to allow the primary care provider to assess your symptoms.
A bladder infection is caused by bacteria. Classic symptoms patients may experience are pain when urinating or to have an unusually strong need to urinate. Patients may also urinate more often and have pain in the lower stomach. These symptoms usually appear quickly and require an assessment by your primary care provider.
Women who suspect a bladder infection should see the doctor as soon as possible. A urine sample may be ordered to determine the presence of an infection. Your doctor may prescribe three to five days of antibiotics based on the results of the urine test.
“No single medication recommended for treating a bladder infections is considered best,” said Dr. Craig Wittenberg, family practice physician at Pella Regional Health Center who also practices obstetrics. “The choice is based on patient history and the results of the urinalysis testing. That’s why it’s so important for us to see the patient and to determine which medication, and which length of therapy, will most likely be effective.”
Over-using or misusing antibiotics can contribute to the problem of antibiotic drug resistance. Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to withstand the effects of a medication. Taking antibiotics inappropriately increases the risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.
“We ask patients to not insist on getting antibiotics immediately, especially without an office visit, when a health care provider says they would like to do further testing first,” said Bridget Drafahl, RN, manager of clinic nursing at Pella Regional. “Antibiotics won't cure every illness out there. Plus, testing allows for a better diagnosis and a better decision from the health care provider on what medication will work best for you and your illness.”
If bacteria develop a resistance to multiple drugs, treating infections becomes far more difficult or even impossible. When antibiotics fail to work, the consequences are longer-lasting illnesses, more doctor visits or extended hospital stays, and the need for more expensive and toxic medications. Some resistant infections can even cause death.