What Is Cystitis?
Cystitis is an inflammation occuring inside the bladder. Commonly afflicting women - due to the shorter urethra in females. This inflammation is caused by an infection and can sometimes spread up to the kidneys causing pyelonephritis - this can damage kidney function and must be treated.
A painful or burning sensation during urination is often a symptom - this is due to the tenderness of the wall of the bladder and urethra. A frequent need to urinate or a need to urinate urgently can also be present. Sometimes urine passed is cloudy or smelly - indicating the present of pus or blood in the urine as the infection destroys the surface of the wall of the bladder or the urinary tract. Aching on the lower back or stomach in the region of the kidneys is also common. If the infection spreads a fever may also be present.
How Does An Infection Reach The Bladder
Cystitis is commonly caused by bacteria travelling up the urethra ino the bladder. This bacteria normall resides in and around the opening to the bowel (anus) and should it enter the urethra and up into the bladder, cystitis occurs. In women, the entrances to the urethra, bladder and anus are all very close so bacteria can easily travel - this is why women commonly contract cystitis. Bacteria can also be pushed up the urethra during sexual intercourse or by wiping back to front when going to the toilet. Other factors may cause cystitis-like symptoms and it's worth knowing about these and excluding them if possible:
- sexually transmitted diseases - herpes, trichomonas or candida(thrush) can cause tenderness of the urethra and make passing urine painful.
- Irritants present at the opening of the urethra may make urinating irritating - vaginal deodorants, talcum powders, douches, bubble baths.
- friction during intercourse.
- the pressure of a diaphragm may cause a desire to urinate when there is no need.
- anxiety or cold weather increases the frequency of urination - this is normal and should not be cause for concern.
Relieving The Discomfort
Cystitis can be uncomfortable, if you experience an episode of discomfort deal with the problem immediately - to prevent prolonging the uncomfortable period. Drink lots of fluids - water's best but you may prefer milk or cordial or even tea. Bicarbonate of soda - a teaspoon in a glass of water helps reduce the acidity of urine and therefore relieves the burning sensation. Please consult a doctor if you suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) or heart trouble as bicarbonate of soda make aggravate these. Pain can be relieved by taking a pain killer (panadol, panadeine, nurofen, etc) and a hot water bottle on the abdomen can relieve some discomfort. Make sure you see your doctor as SOON as possible.
Diagnosis and Treament
Cystitis is usually diagnosed by examination of a urine specimen. However, if there is a vaginal discharge or itch, swabs may be taken to see if there are any other problems. Treatment consists of hygiene, intake of fluids and antibiotics.
- Drink lots of fluids - this increases urination and helps cleanse the bladder.
- Urinating after intercourse prevents them from multiplying overnight.
- Washing the genital area after intercourse serves the same purpose.
- Do not use antiseptics, deodorants, talcums in the genital area - as these may aggravate the region.
- Always wipe from front to back - thereby preventing bacteria from the anus from gaining access to the urethra.
urethra the tube connecting the bladder to the urinary outlet.