Statistics show that between 20% and 40% of women suffer from cystitis during their lives. Uncomfortable, painful and, most of all, embarrassing, cystitis is an infection that is not life-threatening but can instead be lifestyle-threatening.
Simple treatments such as increased fluid intake, drinking cranberry juice daily and improved personal hygiene can resolve mild cases of cystitis.
So, what exactly is cystitis? Let us take a closer look at the condition, the most common causes of infection and the symptoms to look out for.
What is cystitis?Cystitis is caused when a bacteria known as Escherichia coli enters the bladder, and fastens itself to the bladder lining, causing irritation and inflammation. The bacteria usually enters via the urethra, which is shorter in women than men – explaining why women catch it more frequently.
5 causes of cystitis- TheMenopause:Menopause causes the lining of a woman’s urethra to thin. As this occurs, likelihood of becoming infected with cystitis increases.
- Sex:Though not an STI, sexually active women have a higher incidence rate of cystitis than those who are not sexually active. Vigorous sex can cause bruising, making infection more likely.
- Catheters, tampons and contraceptive diaphragms: Each time something is inserted into the vagina, there is a small chance it carries harmful bacteria to the urethra. There is also the minor possibility these items can cause abrasions or other forms of damage that allows bacteria to prosper.
- Problems passing urine:When a woman is pregnant, she may struggle to empty her bladder completely. The same may be true of men with prostate problems. Failing to fully empty the bladder allows bacteria to thrive.
- Bladder or kidney problems:People who suffer with bladder or kidney issues are more likely to catch cystitis. They may struggle to pass urine, or their urinary system may be blocked.
Symptoms of cystitisCystitis symptoms are actually quite similar to those of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and thrush,although it is not a sexually transmitted infection. The early stages of bladder cancer, prostatitis and kidney problems may also bear similarities. For this reason, it is important you consult a medical professional.
However, cystitis is usually accompanied by a frequent need to visit the toilet, painful or burning sensations when urinating, and strong smelling urine, sometimes with blood traces. There may also be pain around the pubic bone, lower back and abdomen.
In severe cases, cystitis may necessitate visits to the bathroom every 10-15 minutes - both night and day!Under these circumstances it is important that women - and men, who can also be susceptible to the problem - don't let embarrassment get in the way of accessing effective over-the-counter cystitis medication to bring the infection under control.
Cystitis prevention and treatmentIt is impossible to guarantee the avoidance of cystitis. However, sticking to a few good habits will make infection less likely. Practicing good hygiene after sex is a start: washing thoroughly, and with scentless soaps.
Being careful to fully empty your bladder when visiting the toilet can also play a crucial role in preventing bacteria from affecting the urinary tract. Similarly, it is advised that women take extra care when changing tampons, catheters or diaphragms.
In more troublesome cases, a simple course of antibiotics from your pharmacy generally eases symptoms in as little as 24 hours.
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