What is Cystitis?
Cystitis is the term for inflammation of the bladder. Usually, the inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection. In this care it may be referred to as a urinary tract infection. Bladder infectionscan be painful, and become a health problem if the infection spreads to the kidneys.
Cystitis usually occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract and begins to multiply. In women, a bladder infection is likely to occur after intercourse. During sexual activity, bacteria can be introduced into the bladder through the urethra. However even sexually inactive women can develop cystitis due to the fact that the female genital area harbors bacteria that causes the infection.
Many cases of cystitis are caused by E.Coli bacteria that are commonly found in the genital area. Less commonly, cystitis can be cause by a reaction to drugs, radiation therapy, potential irritants like feminine hygiene spray, spermicidal lubricants, or long term use of a catheter. The usual treatment for cystitis is antibiotics. You can take a number of steps to prevent a bladder infection.
What are the signs and symptoms of Cystitis?
The signs and symptoms of a bladder infection include:
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- A burning sensation during urination
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Blood in the urine
- Passing cloudy or strong smelling urine
- A feeling of pressure in the lower abdomen area
- A low-grade fever
What are the risk factors of Cystitis?
There are some people who are more likely to experience bladder infections, or recurring urinary tract infections and women are more likely than men. Up to 20 percent of women will develop a bladder infection over their lifetime. The main reason is because of the anatomy of the woman. Women have a shorter urethra than men, cutting down the distance the bacteria have to travel to reach the bladder. Women who are sexually active usually have more UTIs because sexual intercourse can cause bacteria to be pushed into the urethra.
Some women who use diaphragms also may be at a higher risk. Sometimes hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase the risk of cystitis.
Other factors in men and women include things that prevent the flow of urine, such as an enlarged prostate or a stone in the bladder. The risk of developing cystitis increases if you have conditions that affect the immune system like diabetes.
If you have any symptoms of a bladder infection, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. If your doctor suspects you have a bladder infection, he or she may ask for a urine sample to determine whether bacteria, blood or pus is in your urine.
How is Cystitis treated?
Cystitis caused by bacterial infection is generally treated with antibiotics. Treatment for noninfectious cystitis depends on the underlying cause.
Bacterial cystitis - Antibiotics are the best treatment for cystitis caused by bacteria. With treatment, symptoms of UTIs clear up within a few days. You will likely need to take antibiotics for three to seven days depending on the severity of the bladder infection. To ensure that the infection is completely cleared up, take the entire course of antibiotics recommended by your doctor. If you have frequent cystitis, your doctor might recommend you to longer antibiotic treatment, or refer you to a doctor who specializes in urinary tract disorders. For some women with UTIs, taking a single dose of an antibiotic after sexual intercourse may help.
Interstitial cystitis - With this type of cystitis, the cause of inflammation is unknown, so there is usually no single treatment that works for every individual case. Some therapies used to ease the signs and symptoms of cystitis include medications that are taken orally or instilled directly into your bladder, procedures that manipulate your bladder to improve symptoms such as bladder distention, or sometimes surgery, and nerve stimulation, which uses mild electrical pulse to relieve pelvic pain and reduce urinary frequency.
Treating interstitial cystitis
With interstitial cystitis, the cause of inflammation is uncertain, so there's no single treatment that works best for every case. Therapies used to ease the signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis include:
- Medications that are taken orally or instilled directly into your bladder
- Procedures that manipulate your bladder to improve symptoms, such as bladder distention or, sometimes, surgery
- Nerve stimulation, which uses mild electrical pulses to relieve pelvic pain and, in some cases, reduce urinary frequency
If you're hypersensitive to certain chemicals in personal products, such as bubble bath or spermicidal - avoiding these products may help ease symptoms and help prevent further episodes of cystitis.
How do you prevent Cystitis?
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing bladder infections.
Women especially may benefit from these steps:
- Drink plenty of liquids - Water or cranberry juice have infection fighting agents. Don't drink cranberry juice, however, if you are taking a blood thinning medication called warafarin.
- Urinate frequently - Don’t hold back your urine for a long time when you feel the urge to urinate.
- Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement - this prevents bacteria from the anal region from spreading to the vagina or urethra
- Take showers instead of baths - If you are susceptible to cystitis, avoiding baths can help prevent infections
- Wash the skin around the vagina and anus gently - do this daily making sure not to use harsh soaps or scrub vigorously. The skin around these areas is delicate and can become easily irritated.
- Empty your bladder as soon as possible after intercourse - and drink a full glass of water to help flush out bacteria
- Avoid using sprays or feminine products like douches in the genital area - these products can irritate the urethra.