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Overview of cystitis

Cystitis is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI) that leads to the inflammation of the bladder. This condition is caused when a bacterium called Escherichia coli sticks to the lining of the bladder causing irritation and inflammation.

Cystitis affects people of all ages and sexes but is more common among females. A common lower urinary tract infection cystitis can be painful and can become a serious problem if the infection spreads to kidneys.

Symptoms of cystitis

The most common symptoms of cystitis are experiencing pain when passing urine which may be accompanied by a burning or stinging sensation. Other symptoms may include a frequent need to urinate with little or no urine discharge. Symptoms can also include dark or strong smelling urine, blood in your urine and pain in your lower abdomen or pain in lower back. In some cases a person may also have fever and feel fatigued.

Causes of cystitis

Cystitis is a bacterial infection caused by Escherichia coli or popularly known as E.coli. This bacterium is normally found in our bowel and is harmless as long as it does not infect the urinary system. One common way for bacteria to be transferred is through sexual intercourse when bacteria are transferred to the bladder.

For women the chances of infection are higher as they have shorter urethras than men and female genital is more susceptible to such infections. Also poor hygiene is a common cause for cystitis in woman. During pregnancy there is a greater chance for women to catch cystitis as there is an increased chance for bacterial growth. Similarly for both sexes kidney or bladder stones can prevent bladder from emptying fully, which can encourage bacteria to grow. For diabetic patients the extra sugar in the urine can also prove to be a good catalyst for bacterial growth.

Prolong use of catheter also results in bacterial growth and leads to cystitis and is categorized as hospital-acquired bladder infections. Men are more likely to suffer from infection in the prostate leading to cystitis.

There are also instances when cystitis can be caused due to noninfectious reasons. Interstital cystitis is one such example and it is unclear what causes this condition. Another example is drug-induced cystitis that normally takes place when someone is taking drugs for chemotherapy. A person may also suffer from radiation cystitis which maybe to treat another diseases but ends up inflaming the bladder tissues. These types of cases are rare and difficult to treat. Cystitis may sometimes occur as result of other disorders like gynecologic cancers, pelvic inflammatory disorders, endometriosis, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, lupus or tuberculosis.

Risk factors for cystitis

As mentioned earlier women are at a higher risk of catching cystitis compared to men. The physical makeup of women makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder and that is why cystitis is more common amongst women. Women who are sexually active and also use birth control methods like diaphragms are at greater risk for cystitis.

For men an enlarged prostrate may inhibit the flow of urine resulting in bacterial formation. Similarly presence of diseases like diabetes and HIV infection and ongoing cancer treatment can lower the immune system and help bacterial infection.

Diagnosis of cystitis

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The most common diagnosis for cystitis is urine examination. A urine examination can clearly rule the existence of bacteria that causes cystitis and bladder infection. A more detailed examination can be in the form of cystoscopy which allows a doctor to inspect the bladder with the help of a tube and camera.

There are also plenty of imaging tests like X-ray or ultrasound that can be done to diagnose cystitis. Imaging tests are, however, not normally carried out are mostly helpful to detect other causes of bladder inflammation like a tumor.

Treatment of cystitis

Cystitis can be treated at home and often does not need consultation of doctor. Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines like paracetamol and ibuprofen help relieve pain. They may also help if you have a fever or a temperature. Other OTC medicines that can help treat cystitis contain potassium or sodium citrate that work to cut down the acidic content of the urine. It is also advisable to cut down on alcohol, caffeine and acidic food like oranges.

In case symptoms persist or gets worse after two or three days of self treatment, consulting a doctor may be needed. In such cases antibiotics like trimethoprim, nitrofurantoin and amoxicillin are used to treat cystitis. These antibiotics generally last for a full course of about seven days to ensure that the bacterium is treated properly.

If antibiotics fail to work it is because of interstitial cystitis. Since the cause in this case is unknown there is no single treatment. In such cases the treatment is complex and can range from inserting medication directly in the bladder to nerve stimulation and avoiding certain type of chemicals.

Prevention of cystitis

Preventing cystitis is fairly easy and routine. One must make it a point to drink plenty of fluid and water. Alcohol and drinks with caffeine are not good for the bladder. Always wipe from front to back when using toilet paper to prevent bacteria from entering the urinary tract. It is also advisable to wash the genitals before and after sexual intercourse.

Prognosis of cystitis

While majority of the cases is treated effectively and efficiently through antibiotics, some bacterial infections can prove to be resistant. In such cases proper consultation and regular follow ups with the doctor is needed to treat the infection in a different way and prevent it from recurring.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 17, 2015

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