What is cystitis?
Cystitis is an inflammation of the inside lining
of the bladder.
Cystitis is an irritating condition that usually affects women, though
men and children can also be affected.
Over half the women in the U.K. will suffer from
cystitis at some stage in their lives and though it can be painful,
it doesn't usually cause any long term complications. Cystitis is also more common in women when they are pregnant and after the menopause.
What causes cystitis?
The most common cause of cystitis is when bacteria,
that usually live in the anus,
enter the urethra and travel into the bladder.
This can happen during sexual intercourse, when inserting tampons or
by wiping/washing your bottom from back to front. Women who use the
contraceptive diaphragm may also be at risk of cystitis.
If the bladder is not emptied fully this can also cause bacteria to multiply, this is especially common in pregnant women because of the pressure on the pelvic area.
After the menopause women have a reduction in female sex hormones and so the lining of the urethra and the bladder become thinner and so are more likely to become infected and damaged. Women also produce less mucus after the menopause and without the mucus bacteria are more likely to multiply.
In women physical damage or bruising often caused by vigorous or frequent sex can also lead to cystitis this is sometimes known as 'honeymoon cystitis'.
Men who have an enlarged prostate
gland are more at risk of getting cystitis, this is because
the prostate prevents the bladder from completely emptying. When the
bladder is not completely emptied the small drop that is always left
behind may contain bacteria (a cause of cystitis).
Symptoms linked with cystitis :
- Pain (often burning) in the genitals when passing urine.
- Feeling of wanting to pass urine more often than
usual and yet having very little urine to pass.
- Urine may be dark or cloudy
and contain blood.
- Strong or fishy smelling urine.
- A high temperature.
- A dull ache or pain in the lower back or abdomen.
These symptoms can also be a sign of another type of infection,
such as a sexually
transmitted disease. If you are worried about any symptoms
you have, you should visit your doctor.
How is cystitis diagnosed?
Cystitis is commonly diagnosed with a urine test, this will usually be a dipstick in your urine. However if a more detailed analysis is required your sample may be sent for a laboratory test at a hospital. The urine sample will be tested to identify the presence of any bacteria. We sell a urine dip stick test for cystitis on this website, for more information on this test or to buy click here.
If a woman gets repeated infections then the doctor should refer her for further tests such as an ultrasound or x-ray. .
What treatment is available for cystitis?
If you have mild cystitis it will usually clear by itself in 2-4 days. You can help by drinking
lots of water (or any other bland liquid) as this will help to flush
out bacteria and dilute your urine, so that when you pass urine it will
not sting as much. However, try to avoid drinking anything, which contains
caffeine such as coffee.
You can also try using bicarbonate of soda, a teaspoon
in half a pint of water, 2 or 3 times a day (avoid this however if you
suffer with high
blood pressure or heart trouble).
If you are in pain, try placing a hot water bottle wrapped
in a towel, on your lower back or between your thighs. Painkillers may
also help to relieve the pain, ask your pharmacist for advice.
If your cystitis has not cleared up within a day or so
you should consult your doctor as you may require antibiotics. Pregnant women, children and men with cystitis should
always see their doctor. If your symptoms do not improve after the first few days of treatment then return to your GP.
Women who get cystitis more than twice a year may benefit from medium or long term antibiotic use.
Is there anything I can do
to prevent future attacks of cystitis?
To prevent future infections you should avoid anything
that might cause irritation such as:
- Nylon tights and underwear (choose cotton underwear
- Tight trousers and jeans.
- Perfumed soap, talcum powder or deodorants in
the genital area.
- Bubble bath and bath oils.
You should also try the following:
- After you have been to the toilet always wipe
from front to back.
- Wash your genital area morning and night.
- Try to pass water before and
- Take showers instead of baths.
- Try to drink at least 3 pints of liquid a day.
- Drink cranberry juice, as it stops bacteria from
clinging to the cells lining the bladder.
- Pass water as soon as you feel the need - dont
hang on. The bladder only stays clean and free from bacteria
if it is emptied regularly.
What happens if cystitis is left untreated?
The bacteria that cause symptoms of cystitis can
also produce the same effects over a longer period if left untreated.
This is known as chronic cystitis. This can happen when the initial course of antibiotic treatment
is not completed, allowing some of the bacteria to remain, or when some
germs have a resistance to treatment. Chronic symptoms of cystitis can
also be experienced when there is some abnormality in the urinary tract,
such as a bladder
Cystitis Urine Test
Urine Infection Test
Urine Analysis Test Strips