Cystitis is the medical term for inflammation of the bladder, which is a type of lower urinary tract infection (UTI). It is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection in the area around the urethra. Women are far more likely to contract the disease than men due to their anatomy. Because a woman’s urethra is shorter and lies close to the anus, it allows for bacteria to reach the bladder and cause infection more easily. Men, on the other hand, have a longer urethra, located further away from the anus, making it more difficult for bacteria to spread to the bladder.
Risk Factors for Cystitis
- Holding urination for prolonged periods of time can allow bacteria to multiply within urine and urinary tract.
- Poor and improper sanitation of the genitals – especially in women.
- In women, use of vaginal cleansers containing antibiotics, as they not only clean out bad bacteria, but good bacteria as well, which help to prevent disease and infection.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
- Hormonal changes in menopausal women, as reduced levels of estrogen also cause a decrease in the natural lubrication of the vagina and urethra, which helps to prevent infection.
- Diabetes, if the disease is not well-controlled, a weak immune system can increase the risk of infection.
- Prolonged usage of antibiotics.
- Prolonged use of urinary catheters.
Symptoms of Cystitis
Common symptoms of cystitis include:
- Frequent urination, although only a small amount of urine is released each time, or feeling the urge to urinate even after emptying the bladder.
- Pain in the lower abdomen, or pain and burning during urination.
- Cloudy urine, strong-smelling urine, and in severe cases, the presence of blood in the urine.
Diagnosis of Cystitis
Cystitis can be diagnosed through a urine analysis or urine culture test, along with reviewing a patient’s medical history. In cases of frequent recurrence, an ultrasound or cystoscopy procedure may be necessary to check whether or not any abnormalities are present within the bladder, such as bladder stones or kidney stones.
Treatment Methods for Cystitis
The initial treatment is a short course of antibiotics (approximately 3-5 days) depending on the type of medication, drinking plenty of water, and if necessary, symptomatic treatment such as analgesics to help to relieve bladder pressure.
Patients should not take these medications without first consulting the doctor, as they may acquire medications that do not match their specific pathogen type and cause the disease to become drug resistant.
Cystitis Prevention and Patient Self-Care
- Do not hold urination when the bladder is full; if there’s the urge to urinate, do not delay.
- Elderly people often develop cystitis from sleeping for long periods without getting up to use the restroom. Elderly persons are recommended to not drink too much water or eat fruits with high water content before going to bed.
- Practice proper genital hygiene; when using the restroom, wipe away from the genitals, as opposed to towards the genitals, in order to prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Don’t wash the vaginal area with antibacterial soap. Plain water and mild, regular soap is sufficient.
- After sexual intercourse, it’s important to empty the bladder and clean the genital area as soon as possible.
- Do the best to control diseases that are known to be risk factors, such as diabetes; uncontrolled diseases can increase the risk of recurrence.
- For postmenopausal women with recurrent infections, topical estrogen therapy may be needed. For example, vaginal suppositories to increase moisture in the vaginal wall and lining of the urethra may help reduce the risk of infection. However, as the use of hormones may have side effects, a physician should always be consulted before use.
- If taking immunosuppressive medications, the treatment regimen should be adjusted according to the doctor’s orders.