Urinary tract infections are more common in women, but bladder infections also affect men.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs), also called bladder infections, occur when fungi, viruses and bacteria find their way into the bladder. Normally, these irritants are flushed out of the body before they can cause symptoms. When UTIs linger, an infection can occur in your bladder (cystitis) or urethra (urethritis).

Women typically get bladder infections because they have a shorter urethra, but men can also experience this painful condition. The incidence in men younger than age 50 is five to eight per 10,000 a year; the number increases for older men.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

Symptoms of a UTI include:

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  • Painful or burning urination
  • Constant feeling of needing to urinate
  • Pain in your abdomen
  • Blood in your urine

In some cases, a bladder infection might be accompanied by a prostate infection or kidney infection. Fever, chills, fatigue, pain between your rectum and scrotum, severe pain in your back, vomiting, nausea and difficulty urinating can signal a more serious UTI that requires immediate medical attention.

Why do UTIs occur in men?

UTIs in men become more common with age. If you experience an enlarged prostate gland, this can restrict the neck of the bladder, making it hard for urine to flow and for the bladder to empty completely. Bacteria that isn’t flushed out can stay in the bladder and cause infection. It is less common for men than women to get a UTI from sexual activity.

Other risk factors:

  • Having diabetes
  • Having experienced fecal incontinence
  • Dehydration
  • Being immobile for long periods of time
  • Being uncircumcised

“Urinary tract infection is more common in women; however, when it happens in men — or in women with recurrent infection — it is usually associated with some predisposing factors,” explains Hooman Djaladat, MD, MS, associate professor of clinical urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a urologist at Keck Medicine of USC. “These include urolithiasis, obstruction, cancer, immunosuppression and uncontrolled diabetes. Proper treatment of urinary tract infection is important to prevent morbidity and complications.”

How are UTIs diagnosed?

Your doctor will begin by asking you about your symptoms and health care history. He or she may perform a digital rectal exam if it is suspected that you have an enlarged prostate. A urine culture is another way to determine the presence of bacteria.

How are UTIs treated?

Treatment for a UTI depends on its severity, its symptoms and if it’s a repeated occurrence. In most cases, your doctor will prescribe antibiotic medication to treat your UTI. You should also continue to drink plenty of fluid, even if it hurts to urinate. This is the only way to flush the bacteria out of your system.

You should begin to feel better within two to three days. Even so, finish taking your medication to ensure that all bacteria are eliminated.

By Heidi Tyline King

If you are experiencing pain or trouble with urination, schedule a visit with one of the top specialists in the world at the USC Institute of Urology at Keck Medicine of USC. If you are in the Los Angeles area, make an appointment by calling (800) USC CARE (800-872-2273) or visiting http://urology.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.