What are some common causes for bladder pain?
The bladder is a bag-like organ, the size of a grapefruit, located behind the pelvic bone. The bladder is connected to the kidneys through a set of tubes called the ureters. Kidneys make urine and transport the same to the bladder through the ureters.
The bladder consists of muscles that stretch to accommodate the urine produced by the body. The bladder can hold up to half a litre of urine for two to four hours at a time. When the body relieves the urine, two valves open up and allow the urine to pass out of the body through the urethra.
Causes of bladder pain
Like every vital organ in the body, the bladder is prone to issues that cause difficulty in functioning. Some of these issues are:
Cystitis is the medical term for bladder inflammation, commonly referred to as painful bladder syndrome. If the pain and inflammation lingers for more than six weeks, with no underlying infection, the doctor might diagnose it as Interstitial Cystitis (IC).
Common symptoms of cystitis include:
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Pain in the bladder when it fills up
- The urge to urinate immediately after using the bathroom
- Pain during intercourse.
The pain resulting from cystitis can be mild to severe depending differing from person to person.
The symptoms of IC could worsen because of improper diet, mental or physical stress. In women, menstruation could cause additional pain to the bladder.
The treatment for IC includes:
- Oral medications
- Bladder distention
- Bladder instillation
- Nerve stimulation
In case the treatment options are ineffective, the doctors might suggest surgery as a last resort.
You can also control IC by keeping an eye on your diet to identify and avoid the food which causes bladder irritation.
Urinary tract infection
A urinary tract infection (UTI) could affect the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra, which form part of the urinary system. While the condition affects 8 million people each year, UTI is more likely to cause bladder pain in women as compared to men.
The more common symptoms of UTI are:
- Painful urination
- Lower abdominal and back pain
- Cloudy urine
- Bloody urine
You should treat UTIs as soon as possible to avoid severe infections to the kidneys and other parts of the urinary system. Your urologist will conduct a urine analysis to check the level of infection and also to identify the bacteria causing the infection.
UTI could be caused by:
- Unmanaged diabetes
- Use of catheters
- Kidney stones
- Weak immune system
UTIs are generally treated with oral medications that include antibiotics as a first defence. Depending on the severity of the infection, your doctor will dictate the course of antibiotics. In the case of extreme cases, antibiotics are given intravenously.
Drinking lots of water and using heating pads are simple remedies for reducing the effects of the infection and manage side effects of the antibiotics.
Bladder stones are stones made of accumulated mineral deposits in the bladder. When the kidneys form highly concentrated urine, it can lead to the formation of stones. Urine becomes concentrated due to dehydration or a problem in emptying the bladder fully.
The more common symptoms of bladder stones are:
- Pain in urethra while passing urine
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Frequent urination at night
- Interrupted urine
The most usual sign of bladder stones could be by not keeping the body hydrated. As urine is almost 90% water, the reduction in water quantity makes the mineral deposits stronger.
Other signs of bladder stones include:
- Prostate gland enlargement (in men)
- Damaged nerves
- Kidney stones
In the case of small bladder stones, drinking lots of water is enough to flush it out with urine. However, if the stones are bigger in size, lasers or ultrasound are used to break the stones into smaller pieces and flush them out. Surgery is the last option considered when all other treatments are ineffective.
The ninth most common cancer in India, bladder cancer entails the abnormal growth of cells of the inside lining of the bladder. This type of cancer usually causes bladder irritation in men between the ages of 50 and 70.
The more common symptoms of bladder cancer are:
- Blood in urine
- Frequent urination
- Back pain
- Bone pain
- Swollen feet (Oedema)
- Unusual weight loss
The usual cause of bladder cancer is the abnormal growth of cells without control in the bladder. The growth of these cells is aggravated by:
- Tobacco use or smoking
- Constant exposure to harmful chemicals used in paints and plastics
- Radiation therapy
- Parasitic infections
- Chronic irritation of bladder lining
Different procedures like cystoscopy, biopsy, urine cytology and imaging tests help identify any cancerous areas in the bladder and urinary tract system. Cancer could be at either of the four stages.
Bladder cancer treatment includes:
- Radiation therapy
- Reconstruction of a new path for urine to exit
Doctors might recommend a different mix of treatments for most effectiveness. However, there is a relapse in more than 50 % cases, which often infects the surrounding tissue of the bladder too.
Ques 1: What causes bladder pain without infection?
Ans: Kidney stones could move from the kidney and lodge the bladder’s walls, causing bladder irritation and pain. In some cases, the reason could be bladder cancer.
Ques 2: How do I get my bladder to stop hurting?
Ans: If you have a bladder infection, constant hydration will help flush the bacteria out of your body. Using heating pads and avoiding intercourse until your bladder stops hurting are effective ways to combat bladder pain.
Ques 3: What causes bladder pain in females?
Ans: One of the main causes of bladder pain in women is a bacterial infection from a UTI or IC. Women are more susceptible to bacteria because they tend to have a shorter urethra than men, which is also located closer to the anus. To avoid contracting a bladder infection, women must pay special attention to their intimate hygiene.
Although bladder pain has many different causes, almost all of them can be treated. Bladder pain should be treated right at the start of the discomfort for maximum relief. You can book an appointment with the doctor in case your symptoms persist or are aggravated.
Also, Read: Gallbladder stones – everything you need to know