What is Cystitis?
Cystitis is an infection of the bladder or lower urinary tract, causing inflammation of the bladder. It is a common urinary tract infection experienced by women. It can be hugely inconvenient to deal with, but for most cases, it isn’t a cause for huge concern. Some people may however experience recurrent episodes of cystitis, requiring long-term treatment.
The infection is most often caused by bacteria that come from your bowel and travel up to the bladder, but it may also occur as a reaction to certain drugs, therapies, and potential irritants or as a complication of another illness. Symptoms commonly affect the nature and frequency of urination, and largely resolve on their own, however more serious cases require treatment, depending on the type and severity of the cystitis. In some cases, if left untreated, it may develop into other serious conditions, such as kidney infections or kidney failure.
Women are more than doubly likely to develop the condition, but men and children can get it too.
Cystitis can be mild to severe, its symptoms include;- Pain, burning or stinging when you urinate
- Needing to urinate more often than usual
- Dark, cloudy or smelly urine
- Pain in the lower stomach
- Higher urine retention
- Feeling generally unwell or tired
For children, symptoms also include having high temperatures of 38ºc, along with weakness, irritability, reduced appetite and vomiting.
When the infection spreads to the kidneys, pain in the back or sides, chills and nausea are commonly experienced.
Most cystitis cases are caused due to a bacterial infection. Bacteria that live harmlessly in the bowel or skin surface, travel up to the bladder through the urethra and start to multiply, causing inflammation. The condition is much more common in women as they have a shorter urethra, and it is closer to the anus, allowing bacteria to reach the bladder more easily. Bacteria may also enter the body during sex, while wiping your bottom after going to the toilet, inserting a tampon or urinary catheter, or because of frequently using a diaphragm for contraception. Incomplete emptying of the bladder, which is common in pregnancy or for men with an enlarged prostate, can also lead to bacterial infection.
Apart from bacterial infection, there are a number of other reasons, which may result in cystitis;
It is a poorly understood bladder condition, causing frequent pelvic pain.
High blood pressure is more commonly found in people of African-American origin.
Long-term use of a catheter increases exposure and causes tissue damage, making it more likely for you to develop bacterial infections, and inflammation.
Some people may be hypersensitive to chemicals contained in certain products, such as bubble bath and feminine hygiene sprays, and could develop an allergic reaction.
Associated with other conditions
It may also occur as a complication of other disorders, such as diabetes, kidney stones, enlarged prostate or spinal cord injuries.
There are a number of risk factors that can increase your chances of developing an infection in your bladder;
Being sexually active
Having sex exposes you to a host of bacteria, which could be pushed against the urethra during intercourse.
Being pregnant brings about significant hormonal changes, that may increase your risk of an infection.
With menopause, the lining of the urethra narrows considerably due to the lack of oestrogen, changing the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina. This allows potentially harmful bacteria to become more common, making the urethra more vulnerable to infection.
High levels of sugar in your urine can provide a good environment for bacteria to multiply, so any bacteria that enter your bladder are more likely to cause cystitis.
To diagnose cystitis, your doctor may ask about your symptoms, medical history and carry out a physical exam. Additionally, urine tests can confirm the diagnosis. There are 2 kinds of urine samples that may be asked for.
It is done to look for white blood cells, red blood cells, bacteria and check for certain chemicals such as nitrates in the urine, which helps to diagnose the infection.
A ‘clean catch urine’ sample may be needed by your physician to identify any bacteria, blood or pus in your urine causing cystitis.
Most mild cases of cystitis resolve on its own and do not require treatment. For more severe cases, oral antiobiotics are prescribed to avoid the infection spreading to the bacteria. In addition, one should drink plenty of water, to flush out the bacteria, and could avoid having sex while undergoing any treatment.
We at The Online Surgery, offer antibiotics to treat simple infections of the bladder or urinary tract. For recurrent cystitis, or with complications such as diabetes, or mild kidney infection, we can prescribe medication for longer time periods.
Antibiotics such as Nitrofurantoin and Trimethroprim can be prescribed to be had for a couple of days, depending on the severity of the inflammation and presence of other conditions such as diabetes or kidney infection It is important to finish having the prescribed antibiotic course, even if you start feeling better before.