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Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Men

Bladder infection, or cystitis, is the most common type of urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI refers to an infection of the kidneys, ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder), bladder, or urethra (tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside world. Infection of the urethra (urethritis) may occur along with bladder infections.

Bacteria can get to the bladder in one of two ways: they may come through the bloodstream from another part of the body or they may come up the urethra. This occurs more commonly when the urethra has an abnormal structure, has been damaged, or when a urinary catheter has been inserted. Bladder infections in boys and men are much less common than in girls and women. This is because the female urethra is shorter and is closer to the opening of the rectum. An infection in the prostate or kidneys increases the chance of that infection spreading to the bladder. Likewise, health problems that lower resistance such as alcoholism, diabetes, other chronic illnesses, or cancer make bladder infections more common. As men get older and the prostate naturally gets larger, it can begin to obstruct bladder emptying. This is when men are most likely to develop bladder infections. Risks also increase with poor fluid intake and stress.

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include:

  • Burning, pain, and stinging on urination
  • Frequent urination with only a small amount of urine
  • Increased urge to urinate even when the bladder is empty
  • Pain in the pubic area and low back
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Blood or pus in the urine
  • Fever
  • Foul-smelling urine and lack of voluntary bladder control

What your doctor can do for a UTI

  • Diagnostic tests include urine collection for analysis (urinalysis) and for bacterial culture; cystoscopy (examination of the bladder with a lighted optical instrument), X-rays of the urinary system (IVP), and ultrasound.
  • Prescribe antibiotics to help kill the bacteria causing the infection.
  • If the prostate is enlarged, medications may be prescribed that can help shrink the prostate muscle or surgery called transurethral prostatectomy (TURP) can be performed.
  • Medications may be prescribed for pain.

What you can do

  • The antibiotics must be completed or the infection may recur.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to flush the bladder. Drinking cranberry juice can also be helpful as it acidifies the urine and inhibits bacterial growth.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine and delay sexual intercourse for 1-2 weeks while being treated to help urethral inflammation (swelling, irritation) to subside.
  • Urinating in a warm bath or pouring warm water over the genital area while urinating can help the discomfort.
  • If you engage in anal sex, wear a condom to prevent infection.
  • If you use a urinary catheter, sterile procedure should be followed with each catheter change and good catheter care performed routinely.

When to contact your doctor

Contact your doctor if you have symptoms of a bladder infection or if symptoms continue or recur after treatment.

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