HCA image for bladder infections Normal urine is sterile. It contains fluids, salts, and waste products, but not bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Cystitis, more commonly known as a bladder infection, occurs when microorganisms, such as bacteria from the digestive tract, cling to the opening of the urethra and begin to multiply and irritate the lining of the urinary system.

Bladder infections are generally much less common in men than in women. This is because men have a longer urethra, the tube that drains urine from the bladder and out of the body. This makes it more difficult for bacteria to reach the bladder and cause infection. Although urinary tract infections in men are not common, they can be serious.

The Causes of Bladder Infections in Men

When small amounts of urine remain in the bladder, this creates a perfect environment for bacteria to multiply and cause infection. In men, this poor emptying of the bladder is often due to an enlarged prostate, called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Because BPH commonly develops as men age, bladder infections occur more frequently in men over the age of 50.

Other risk factors of bladder infections in men include:

  • Having a catheter inserted to drain urine from the body
  • Having diabetes or a condition that affects your immune system
  • Having another condition that affects the urinary tract, such as kidney stones, bladder stones, narrowing of the urethra, neurogenic bladder, or prostate cancer
  • Multiple sex partners
  • Inconsistent or improper use of latex condoms

Symptoms of Bladder Infections in Men

The symptoms of bladder infection vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. Symptoms may include:

  • Frequent and urgent need to urinate
  • Passing only small amounts of urine
  • Pain in the abdomen, pelvic area, or lower back
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Leaking urine
  • Increased need to get up at night to urinate
  • Cloudy, bad-smelling urine
  • Low-grade fever
  • Fatigue

If the infection is severe enough to inflame the bladder wall, it may also cause blood in the urine and leave it looking cloudy. If you have symptoms of a bladder infection, it is important for you to see your doctor so it can be promptly treated.

Treatment of Bladder Infections in Men

Treatment depends on the complexities of the infection. It typically involves taking an antibiotic for one week. Antibiotics may be needed for 2-6 weeks if fever or prostatitis (infection of the prostate) is present. Most men feel better within a few days of beginning the antibiotic. It is important to take the full course of antibiotics prescribed, even when you are feeling better, to make sure the infection is completely treated. Your doctor may recommend further testing if you have other symptoms, like a fever and a recurrent infection.

Things to Watch For

Certain conditions have similar symptoms to those of a bladder infection. If you have recurring infections or if no infection can be found, your doctor may look for one of the following conditions:

  • Urethritis—may be either inflammation or infection of the urethra
  • Urinary stones—can sometimes develop in the bladder causing irritation and infection
  • Bladder tumors
  • Narrowing of the urethra