What Is Inflammation of the Bladder?

A cutaway of a female body showing the bladder in dark pink.
The human urinary tract, including the bladder in pink at the bottom.
Those with bladder inflammation may experience pain and tenderness in the abdomen.
Bladder inflammation can be caused by catheter placement, but this should resolve itself in several days.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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Inflammation of the bladder is irritation of the tissues in the bladder wall and surrounding structures. Patients with bladder inflammation commonly experience pain and tenderness in the abdomen, and may have difficulty urinating. There are a number of reasons the bladder may become inflamed, and a doctor can perform an evaluation to learn more about the cause and develop a treatment plan. Failure to treat the problem can result in chronic bladder inflammation and an increased risk of bladder cancers and other medical problems.

One reason to develop inflammation in the bladder is an infection. When bacteria, fungi, and other organisms get into the bladder and start breeding, the immune system reacts by producing inflammation. Specialized cells rush to the scene of the infection to attack and remove the infectious organisms. The bladder wall becomes hot and thickened as the inflammation progresses. Often, the urine becomes cloudy and sometimes blood will be present.

Autoimmune disease can also cause inflammation of the bladder. In this case, the body's immune system becomes confused and starts identifying tissues in the body as dangerous. The immune system kicks into gear to destroy the “dangerous” cells. As the inflammation progresses, lesions can appear, caused by damage to the cells.

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Bladder inflammation may be associated with injuries to the abdomen. Sometimes, inflammation spreads from neighboring tissues, or can flare up following surgery, biopsies, and other procedures where care providers come into contact with the bladder. This inflammation may be self-resolving, disappearing as the bladder heals. It can become an issue if the bladder becomes inflamed in response to something like catheter placement, where a doctor cannot remove the catheter to allow the bladder to heal because this might interfere with proper bladder drainage.

Chronic inflammation of the bladder, where the bladder remains inflamed over an extended period of time, can pose health risks. It is usually uncomfortable for patients. The inflammation also causes cellular changes in the bladder wall over the long term, as the cells slough away in response to inflammation and new cells must grow rapidly to replace the lost tissue. This can cause growths in the bladder and some of these may be malignant, developing into bladder cancer. If a patient has a history of painful urination, inflammation, and stomach pain, he may not realize that the symptoms have changed and an invasive tumor is eating its way through the bladder wall. People with chronic inflammation of the bladder should regularly see a doctor for evaluation and treatment.

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Discuss this Article

anon334398
Post 5

I've had bladder issues for three years and it was not treated successfully. Now my bladder is inflamed and I can't empty my bladder. Can having a bladder infection untreated for long periods of time turn into IC?

Mykol
Post 4

@SarahSon-- Have you tried taking cranberry supplements?

I know these are supposed to help with urinary tract infections, and wonder if they would help with an irritable bladder too.

SarahSon
Post 3

I must have a weak bladder because I get chronic bladder infections. This always requires a trip to the doctor to give a urine sample.

I know this sounds kind of gross, but I can tell from just looking at the color of my urine that I have an infection. It looks very cloudy and is usually full of bacteria.

Having an inflamed bladder really makes you feel miserable all over, not just in your abdominal area. I have tried everything they recommend to prevent this, but I still have problems with inflammation of the bladder.

LisaLou
Post 2

I have rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disease, and until reading this article never knew how this could affect the bladder.

It makes sense to me since with this disease, your own immune system starts to work against you. It also might help explain why I get frequent kidney infections since being diagnosed with this.

Most people are aware of how this disease affects your joints, but I am beginning to realize how it affects your whole body, including your bladder.

sunshined
Post 1

A few years ago I had some kidney tests done, and they told me sometimes these tests caused trauma to the bladder. This could then lead to an inflammation and possibly a urinary tract infection.

Sure enough, after about three days, I ended up with the classic urinary tract infection symptoms. This was treated with antibiotics, but I never realized how easy it is for the bladder to get inflamed.

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