Cystitis 101: Everything You Need to Know

Cystitis can be a painful and inconvenient condition to suffer from. Nevertheless, with proper knowledge of its causes and symptoms, it can be treated relatively easily.

The Main Symptoms Of Cystitis

A burning feeling during urination is one of the main warning signs of cystitis. This, coupled with a need to urinate more frequently makes cystitis an unpleasant experience. Other symptoms of this condition include passing urine that is dark or cloudy, and that may have a strong smell. An ache in the lower abdomen and a general feeling of being unwell also tend to accompany cystitis.

What Causes Cystitis?

Cystitis is an inflammation of the urethra (the tube through which you pass urine) caused by bacteria multiplying in the urethra and bladder area. Usually, it is a result of bacteria from the skin or the bowel accidentally entering the urethra. This can occur due to a number of factors including having sexual intercourse, wiping from back to front when going to the bathroom, using a urinary catheter and using a diaphragm as a method of contraceptive. Sometimes, using tampons can cause cystitis, particularly if the tampon is not changed enough times during the day.

Effective Cystitis Treatment

Usually, cystitis treatment can be done at home. If you are experiencing very severe symptoms, though (including blood in the urine), or if the symptoms do not resolve within a couple of weeks, it is a good idea to visit your doctor. You can also visit your doctor if you are not sure whether or not you have cystitis or some other condition as they will help you to diagnose it.

Treating cystitis effectively means focusing on reducing pain and inflammation and staying hydrated. Taking ibuprofen or paracetamol tablets will help to reduce the pain and inflammation in the urethra and bladder while drinking plenty of water or herbal tea will help to flush the bacteria out of the bladder. Holding a hot water bottle, or using a heat patch, on your lower abdomen can also help you to feel better. It is advised that while suffering from cystitis, you should avoid having sex.

If your cystitis is not starting to get better within a few days, your GP can prescribe you with antibiotics. Some sufferers find that drinking a quarter of a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in a glass of water can relieve the pain. You may also see advice to drink cranberry juice, though there is no evidence that this works any better than water. Over the counter products aimed at reducing urine acidity are sold to treat cystitis, though again there is no evidence that these dissolvable powders or drinks are any more effective than simply staying hydrated and taking painkillers.

How To Prevent Cystitis

Cystitis affects women more frequently than men as their anus and their urethra are closer together. Women also have a shorter urethra, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder. Some women are more susceptible to cystitis than others. Staying hydrated, urinating as soon as you need to (to stop bacteria from multiplying in the bladder) and practicing good personal hygiene at all times will help to prevent you from contracting cystitis in the future.