What is Cystitis?
Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder that can affect people of any age but is more common in women. It can cause various symptoms, such as pain and discomfort, and should be treated promptly.
Cystitis is commonly caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI). When bacteria enter the urethra, the tube from which urine is expelled, it can multiply and cause an infection. Fortunately, mild cases of cystitis typically resolve without treatment. However, medical treatment may be required if the infection is severe or reoccurs.
If cystitis is left untreated, it can lead to a kidney infection, which can be severe. Therefore, it is crucial to seek medical advice if the condition persists for over seven days, if the symptoms are severe, or if you suffer from recurrent infections.
In some cases, cystitis is not caused by an infection but rather by bladder irritation, damage to the bladder, or a side effect of another condition.
Cystitis indications can vary in intensity, from minor to pronounced, and depend on the individual and the nature of the infection.
Signs of cystitis might encompass:
- A painful or tingling feeling during urination
- Frequently feeling the urge to urinate
- Releasing minimal urine even when feeling the urge
- An inability to completely clear your bladder
- Urine with traces of blood, which can appear pink, red, or brown
- Murky or dark urine
- Pungent urine odour
- Discomfort in the lower abdominal region
- General malaise
- Mental disorientation, particularly among the elderly
If you experience discomfort near your kidneys, as pain on your back or sides, or exhibit symptoms like high fever, shivering, or nausea, these might indicate a kidney infection. It's vital to consult a doctor immediately if you encounter these signs, as neglecting a kidney infection can lead to severe complications. It's also crucial to see a doctor if your urine visibly contains blood.
Symptoms in children
It is recommended to consult a doctor if you suspect your child is experiencing cystitis. Signs of cystitis in toddlers, babies, and young children may include:
- Feeling unwell and irritable
- Blood in their urine - this can make it pink, red or brown
- Being sick
- Feling like they need to pass urine a lot
- Strong-smelling urine
- Not passing much urine when they have the sensation to go
- Dark, cloudy urine
- Pain in their pelvic area
- Being weak or overly tired
- Feeling like they can’t fully empty their bladder
- A burning, stinging sensation when they pass urine
- Loss of appetite or feeling sick
- Wetting the bed
Cystitis is often a self-limiting condition, meaning it will improve after a few days without medical treatment. But if your symptoms don't improve or you haven't had it before, you should make an appointment to see a doctor. This is particularly important if a child is experiencing the symptoms.
You must answer the doctor's questions truthfully so they can provide the best possible treatment. They will inquire about any symptoms you may have, including any pain you may feel when you urinate. By being honest with the doctor, you can ensure you get the most effective treatment.
A doctor should be consulted if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Are expecting a baby
- Are of the male gender
- Believe that your child or an elderly person under your care might have a urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Observe that your urine appears red, brown, or pale pink, indicating the presence of blood
- Experience frequent infections that persist despite treatment
- Observe a deterioration in your symptoms
Specific individuals may encounter repeated infections. If it applies to you, informing a doctor about this is essential.
Cystitis can progress to a kidney infection, resulting in severe consequences and lasting harm if left untreated. If you experience the following symptoms, it's crucial to consult a doctor promptly:
- Feel pain in the region of your kidneys, whether it's your back, side, or groin area.
- Experience vomiting.
- Develop a fever.
Cystitis arises from bacterial infection, primarily from faecal matter infiltrating the urinary tract. These bacteria enter the body via the urethra, the tube that expels urine during restroom visits. Subsequently, they increase and disseminate.
Women are more susceptible to cystitis due to their shorter urethra and its proximity to the anus. This proximity allows bacteria to reach the bladder and kidneys more easily.
Specific individuals have a higher likelihood of developing cystitis, which includes those who:
- Are pregnant.
- Are advanced in age.
- Engage in sexual activity or have new sexual partners.
- Employ specific birth control methods; contraceptives like diaphragms or spermicidal agents can contribute to infections.
- Have a history of previous urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Experience dehydration.
- Do not empty their bladder during urination.
- Refrain from practising proper hygiene after using the toilet (constantly wiping from front to back).
- Have a condition that hinders complete bladder emptying, such as an enlarged prostate in men or bladder stones.
- Possess a weakened immune system due to conditions like diabetes or treatments like chemotherapy.
- Use scented soaps or shower gels.
- Maintain inadequate personal hygiene.
- Have undergone menopause.
- Utilize a catheter.
- Were born with an abnormal urinary tract.
Cystitis can also arise from other causes, such as bladder irritation or damage.
For mild cases of cystitis, no medical treatment may be necessary- the infection may resolve itself in a few days. Some self-care measures you can try include:
- Utilizing non-prescription pain relief medication - if it's for a child, ensure it's suitable for children and adhere to the recommended dosage on the packaging accurately
- Ensuring adequate rest
- Consuming ample water to facilitate the body in flushing out bacteria
- Steering clear of beverages that could irritate the bladder, such as coffee, alcohol, or citrus-based drinks
- Applying a hot water bottle to the abdomen or back for pain relief
- Refraining from sexual activity until complete recovery
Consult a doctor if this doesn't work or if your symptoms are severe.
If you suffer from cystitis, antibiotics are usually the most effective treatment. In most cases, the infection should clear up within a few days; however, your doctor may need further tests to identify the specific bacteria and prescribe the best antibiotic to eliminate it.
It is essential to take the full course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better, to ensure the infection is completely gone. Individuals who experience recurring cystitis, are male or are pregnant may require more prolonged antibiotics.
Cystitis is a condition that attracts a variety of ‘cures’ you can try at home. However, many of them don’t offer a solution to the problem at all! We’ve looked at some of the common ones below.
Although cranberry juice is the most popular suggestion for treating cystitis, research has shown limited effectiveness. Several studies have demonstrated only a small impact of cranberry juice on treating or preventing infections.
Although there are some indications that it may provide some benefit, it is not considered an effective treatment and should not be relied upon. Additionally, it is unlikely to cause any harm, so it may be worth trying.
The concept here is to alter the acidity levels within your urinary tract to deter the spread of bacteria. Nevertheless, it's important to note that there is currently no substantiated evidence supporting the effectiveness of this approach.
Apple cider vinegar
For the same reasons as baking soda, apple cider vinegar can make cystitis feel worse. Once the infection sets in, acidic vinegar is the last thing you want to come into contact with the irritated lining of your urinary tract.
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