Can the Flu Cause a Bladder Infection?

November 08,2021 |
Woman laying sick on the couch.

Urinary conditions can have a big impact on our daily life. Oftentimes, they’re restrictive, uncomfortable, and downright annoying. This is especially true for bladder infections. Bladder infections can be mild and merely increase the urge and frequency of urination or they can be severe and lead to fevers, chills, and pelvic pain. Regardless of the severity of your bladder infection, treatment is paramount to your long-term health. However, the cause of bladder infections is sometimes unknown. They seem to coincide with other illnesses, creating even more discomfort. One thing that many people have speculated is that the flu and bladder infections are somehow connected. With the weather cooling down and flu season just around the corner, we’re here to answer a common question: can the flu cause a bladder infection?

Understanding Bladder Infections

Bladder infections occur when bacteria like E. coli. travel up your urinary system and into your bladder. They can cause severe discomfort and a persistent urge to use the bathroom. Bladder infections are one of the most common types of urinary tract infections (UTI) and disproportionately affect women. This is because of the physical anatomy of a female’s urinary tract system. Not only is the urethra shorter in women, but it’s also closer to the vagina and anus, thus increasing the risk of contamination. Women are also more susceptible to urinary tract infections during pregnancy and after menopause. When men experience urinary tract infections, they can be caused by a prostate infection or urethral obstruction.

What is Cystitis?

Cystitis is simply the medical term describing the inflammation of the bladder. This is most commonly due to a urinary tract infection, but can also occur from certain medications, radiation therapy, irritants, spermicidal jellies, or long-term catheter use. Due to the variety of causes of cystitis, getting the proper diagnosis is essential to undergoing the correct treatment plan.

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is commonly known as painful bladder syndrome and is defined by the presence of persistent pain, pressure, or discomfort localized in the bladder. While there are no diagnostic tests to definitively test for interstitial cystitis, testing will be done to rule out other, more serious causes. Painful bladder syndrome is a chronic condition with no known cause. Talk to your doctor to learn more about how to manage discomfort and alleviate symptoms.

Bladder infections are associated with a few tell-tale symptoms. If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms, see your doctor immediately:

  • Burning feeling when you urinate
  • Need to urinate more frequently
  • Urinating in small amounts
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Badly smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Chills

There are many ways to prevent urinary tract infections, but if one occurs it requires the proper treatment. While your immune system is a powerful tool to help fight off harmful microorganisms, sometimes your body needs a little help. If you think that you may have a urinary tract infection, bladder infection, or kidney infection, call your doctor immediately. You will need to take an antibiotic to eradicate the bacteria that are causing your infection and prevent it from worsening. Without the proper treatment, serious, long-term complications can occur.

Factors That Affect Your Immune System

The body’s immune system is an intricate system that’s made up of different organs, cells, and proteins to fight off foreign invaders like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and toxins. Due to the delicacy of this system, the decisions that you make on a daily basis have a tremendous impact on its efficiency. Those who live a healthy lifestyle, get plenty of exercise, and avoid toxins tend to have much stronger immune systems than those who eat a diet filled with processed foods and live sedentary lifestyles. Some of the primary factors affecting the immune system include:

  • Diet – eating foods based on convenience over health can severely weaken your immune system. Processed foods lack nutrients and actually increase inflammation in your body, which can worsen infections and lead to uncomfortable symptoms. Try eating for your health and limiting the number of processed foods you consume.


  • Age – the older you get, the less efficient your immune system becomes. This can increase the number of times you experience illness or infection throughout the year, so seeing your doctor regularly and taking preventative measures is essential.


  • Exercise – poor circulation is associated with sedentary lifestyles, which leads to less efficient cellular function. Make sure that you’re getting an adequate amount of exercise throughout the week to give your immune system the energy it needs to do its job.


  • Illness – when you’re sick, your body uses all of its resources to fight infection. This can lead to a weakened immune system, especially if you’re exposed to another dangerous microorganism. If you feel sick, get plenty of rest to replenish your strength and avoid exposing yourself to other germs.


  • Toxins – smoking cigarettes and drinking in excess can cause problems with your immune system as the toxins kill healthy cells. If you smoke, quit—it does more harm than good. If you drink, try to limit consumption to a few drinks per week and avoid binge drinking in excess.

Strengthening your immune system is possible, regardless of your age or previous illnesses. By making a few strategic lifestyle changes, you’ll be more prepared to fight infection without reliance on antibiotics or other medications. One of the best ways to achieve this is to eat foods that are known to boost your immune system. This includes whole fruits and vegetables, especially those that are rich in antioxidants. Avoid processed foods as much as possible and limit your alcohol consumption throughout the week. In conjunction with a healthy diet, talk to your doctor about adding a vitamin C supplement and/or cranberry supplements. Vitamin C can help fight infection and repair damage while cranberry is known for supporting a healthy urinary tract.

The Relationship Between the Flu and Bladder Infections

One thing that many people don’t realize is that flu symptoms are often very similar to those of a bladder infection. However, the flu cannot directly cause a bladder infection. There is no proven research that getting the flu will lead to the development of an infection. The only connection between the two is that the flu can weaken your immune system, which can make you more susceptible to a bladder infection under the right circumstances.

The flu is caused by an influenza virus that enters your body through a mucus membrane. It leads to an infection in the throat, nose, and lungs and can spread between individuals through droplets in the air. Flu viruses can also live on objects for up to 48 hours, so transmission from surfaces is possible. Bladder infections, on the other hand, are caused by bacteria. They are two different microorganisms and are in no way tied to one another.

While the flu cannot cause a bladder infection and vice versa, it is possible to suffer from both the flu and a bladder infection simultaneously. As flu season gets closer, make sure that you are familiar with common symptoms of infection. These can include:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Fever

Since many symptoms of the flu are similar to COVID-19, it’s important to differentiate the two and get tested if you have any doubts or have been exposed to someone with an active virus. This is important regardless of vaccination status, since breakthrough cases can happen. See your doctor or a medical professional if symptoms worsen. If you only experience mild symptoms, isolate yourself until you’re feeling better or have tested negative for COVID-19.

If you think that you may have a bladder infection, see your urologist immediately. Bladder infections are serious when left untreated and can cause severe long-term complications. Getting the proper diagnosis and treatment is important to avoiding kidney failure or more widespread infection. Similarly, while there are many advertisements for effective, at-home treatments, the only thing that’s going to kill the bacteria causing an infection is antibiotics. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan and contact them if you have any questions or concerns.

Since many bladder infections begin as a urinary tract infection, swift treatment can help you avoid progression into more serious issues. Seek treatment from your urologist at the first sign of infection and discuss your options for reducing recurring problems. If you need any educational support on urologic health, Byram Healthcare is here to help.