Bladder infections, also known as cystitis, are one of the most common conditions among women of all ages. According to a new study at the University of Washington School of Medicine, an estimated 7 million episodes of acute cystitis occur annually in the United States with an annual cost of $1 billion. The study further showed the term "honeymoon cystitis" is still accurate in that having sexual intercourse increases the risk of developing the condition. Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria found in fecal material is responsible for up to 90 percent of all urinary tract infections (UTI). Fecal-contaminated bacteria gains access to the bladder through the urethra.
Women are 30 times more likely to have cystitis than men due mostly to the different lengths of the urethra (women's urethras are just one-and-a-half inches long, while men have urethras about eight inches long). Men experience UTIs with obstructions like urinary stones or enlarged prostate. According to the National Bladder Foundation, an estimated 3 percent of girls and 1 percent of boys have UTIs by the age of 11. Among elderly women living in nursing homes or hospitalized, 20-50 percent will develop asymptomatic bacteriuria, which is a UTI without symptoms. The elderly and pregnant women are at risk for this type of UTI, which is symptom free but can still develop into serious kidney infections if left untreated.
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