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Any infection of the kidneys or bladder including the tubes that connect them is called a Urinary Tract Infection or UTI.
A bladder infection is a type of UTI that includes only the bladder.
A kidney infection is a type of UTI that is also called pyelonephritis. This type of infection can cause significant sickness and can be very dangerous.
Most simple bladder infections resolve without antibiotics. Drinking appropriate amounts of water can be helpful although many women will actually drink less water due to discomfort with voiding. Staying hydrated can help clear infections faster.
Supplements may also help ease symptoms or clear infections. Cranberry supplements have been used for years with varying levels of effectiveness. D-mannose now has emerging evidence that it is effective at preventing certain types of UTIs.
Most commonly women will be treated with antibiotics to help improve symptoms rapidly. If someone has had multiple infections, physicians may want to send a urine culture which can take a few days to come back. Urine cultures help physicians determine if there are antibiotic resistances to the bacteria causing the infections. If that is the case, then the antibiotic being used to treat the infection, may need to be changed.
Many women develop multiple bladder infections over the period of months or a year. In that situation, an evaluation of the bladder and kidneys may need to be performed. Recurrent bladder infections may be a sign of something else going on with your kidneys or bladder that needs to be diagnosed. Sometimes this may require a scan of the kidneys or a look inside the bladder. This can be done quickly and with minimal discomfort.
When that evaluation is completed, there are multiple options to treat recurrent infections. Some non-antibiotic solutions work for many women while others may require a preventative regimen. Other women may have UTIs associated with intercourse which also may be addressed with antibiotics.