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< prev - next > Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment (Printable PDF)
Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment 9
Bladder and kidney infections
Infections of the bladder and kidney are caused by germs. These infections
are much more common in women than in men because germs
can easily get into the body through the urinary opening
near the vagina. Infections of the urinary system can be
mild or severe and even life-threatening.
Causes of bladder infections
Germs can enter the urinary opening and cause infection
when a woman:
• goes a long time without urinating. Try to urinate
every 3 or 4 hours.
• goes a long time without drinking liquids. Try to
drink at least 8 glasses or cups of clean water a day.
Drink even more when working in the hot sun.
A girl or woman of any age
— even a small baby —
can get an infection of
her urine system.
• does not keep her genitals clean. Try to wash the genitals every day, and
always wipe from front to back after using the toilet.
• has sex. This is one of the most common causes of bladder infection in
women. To prevent infection, urinate after having sex. This washes the germs
that cause bladder infections out of the urine tube.
Signs and treatment
Signs of bladder or urinary tract infection include:
• Need to urinate often and urgently • Urinating without control
• Pain in the lower belly just after
• Burning feeling when urinating
• Reddish or cloudy urine
• Foul-smelling urine
If you have signs of a bladder infection, start drinking
plenty of water to help flush out germs. If a bladder
infection goes untreated, it can worsen and infect your
kidneys. If the signs last more than 2 days, you may
need medicines.
Signs of kidney infection include:
• Any bladder infection signs
• Pain in the lower back
• Fever and chills
• Nausea and vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Feeling very weak and ill
Kidney infections are more serious than bladder
infections because the kidney can get so sick that it
stops working. While plenty of water, herbal remedies,
or sulfa drugs usually cure a urinary tract infection,
a kidney infection often needs more treatment. If
you have the signs of a kidney infection, see a health
worker right away.
To learn more about treating bladder and kidney
infections, see the book Where Women Have No Doctor,
pages 367 to 368.