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Cystitis

What is Cystitis?

Cystitis, a common type of urinary tract infection (UTI), is characterised by inflammation of the bladder. It is more of a nuisance than a serious concern, causing many women to seek fast and effective treatment.

Cystitis affects more women than men. This is due to the fact that women have a smaller proximity between the urethra and back passage - making it easier for bacteria to infect the bladder.

Cystitis can occur suddenly (acute) or as a result of a chronic case that affects multiple layers of the bladder. The latter case is called interstitial cystitis (IC).

What are the Symptoms of Cystitis?

Most symptoms of cystitis go away between 4 to 9 days. However, many women seek antibiotic treatment to treat their symptoms faster as cystitis can be painful and debilitating. Some of the common symptoms of cystitis include:

  • Pain when urinating, sometimes accompanied by burning or stinging
  • Urinating more frequently
  • Abdominal and stomach pain
  • A change in urine colour, often resulting in it becoming cloudy, dark and stronger smelling
  • Blood in the urine, making it slightly pink
  • Cold-like symptoms, including achiness, nausea and lethargy

Though a mild condition, cystitis may spread to your kidneys. When it does, watch out for the following symptoms as this is a serious health issue:

  • Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Pain in your back or sides

Fever or blood in the urine may also be caused by something more serious than a bladder infection. Seek medical attention as soon as possible if you have concerns.

What Causes Cystitis?

Because the urethra is much shorter in the female anatomy, cystitis is much more common in women. In men, the infection can be linked to more serious conditions such as kidney or prostate infections and, in a worst-case scenario, cancer.

There are many possible causes of cystitis. These include:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Irritating hygiene products
  • Use of a catheter
  • Radiation
  • Taking certain medications

Acute and interstitial cystitis can be caused by a variety of factors. We have categorised these factors below in order to help you understand the causes in more depth:

Bacterial Cystitis

Bacterial Cystitis happens when bacteria enters the urethra and infects your bladder. The most common type of bacteria responsible for this type of cystitis is e-coli. Around 80% of urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria from the bowel that reach your urinary tract.

Factors that can play a part in the development of bacterial cystitis include:

  • Underwear — tight underwear can spread bacteria to the opening of the urethra
  • Hygiene — the proximity between the urethra and the anal passage means unkempt hygiene can lead to a build-up of bacteria
  • Diabetes — diabetics tend to have high sugar content in their urine, meaning bacteria can grow more easily
  • A full bladder — residual urine can increase the amount of bacteria present

The likelihood of bacterial cystitis is heightened by sexual activity but it is not considered a sexually transmitted disease.

Radiation Cystitis

Radiation therapy does not only kill cancer cells and tumours - it can also damage healthy cells. If you’ve had radiation treatment in your pelvic area, your chances of getting an inflamed bladder are high.

Drug-Induced Cystitis

The majority of medicines you consume will leave the body through your urinary system. Some medications like chemotherapy drugs (i.e. ifosfamide and cyclophosphamide) can irritate your bladder when passing through.

Chemical Cystitis

Chemical cystitis is caused by hygiene products like feminine sprays, bubble bath chemicals, and spermicidal jellies. Over or improper use of these products can lead to irritation and infection.

Foreign Body Cystitis

Foreign body cystitis is usually caused by the ongoing use of a catheter - a tube used to facilitate the release of urine from the bladder. Using a catheter increases your risks of developing a bacterial infection and damaging surrounding tissue.

How Can I Treat Cystitis?

Mild cystitis goes away on its own over time. However, if your symptoms are affecting your daily life, you can seek treatment for cystitis from Express Pharmacy.

Lifestyle changes to prevent and treat cystitis include drinking lots of water, drinking cranberry juice, improving personal hygiene, and wearing more breathable underwear. You can also apply heat pads to your back or lower abdomen to relieve uncomfortable symptoms.

Using over the counter pain relievers can also help alleviate the symptoms of cystitis. We currently stock Trimethoprim tablets and Nitrofurantoin - both Cystitis medications are designed to kill bacteria commonly associated with urinary tract infections.

How Common is Cystitis?

Cystitis is more common in women than in men. Between 20 and 40% of women will experience cystitis at some point in their lifetime, and one in five women live with recurrent cystitis. Every year, over 4 million women in the UK develop the infection. It’s particularly common in women who are postmenopausal, pregnant or sexually active.

Although not as common in men, those with an enlarged prostate have a higher risk of developing cystitis because of the retention of urine in the bladder.

How Can I Prevent Cystitis?

Although easy to treat, it’s worth taking measures to prevent cystitis from coming back:

Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water, urinating frequently, and avoiding tight underwear can help reduce your risk of cystitis.

Wipe Properly: Always wipe from front to back after moving your bowel. Remember that most urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria from the bowel that reach your urinary tract.

Wash Carefully: Proper hygiene like washing the skin around the vagina and anus regularly is also a good preventive measure. Just be careful not to use harsh soaps and avoid washing too vigorously. It’s also strongly advised to avoid using feminine products in the genital area.

Use Catheters Correctly: For catheter users, ask your doctor or nurse about the best way to change a catheter without damaging any tissues in your urinary tract.

Talk To Us Today

Cystitis, by itself, is not life-threatening; but it can be a nuisance to deal with. Browse our cystitis treatments on this page or get in touch with us via 0208 123 0703 to see how we can help improve your symptoms.


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If you see or buy a treatment online and find it cheaper with a high street competitor (whether or not they also sell online), as long as their service conditions are comparable, then we’ll match that price for you or refund the difference. The cost of the treatment must include consultation charges for medication without a prior prescription. Comparable service conditions include factors such as delivery charges and timescales (such as Shutl delivery), and consultation charges.

If you’ve already purchased the treatment online, please make sure you report the price match within 28 days of receiving it. If you’d like to buy the product but want us to price match first, please check that you’re providing the most up to date information you can obtain when you submit your claim.

We’ll be asking you for full details of the treatment, the competitor and their prices, so please do check that you have this information to hand before you contact us.

Please note though, that we won’t refund the difference in price paid if you could have bought the product more cheaply with an online-only retailer: examples of this include chemistdirect.co.uk, who sell only through their websites or mail order and not via high street shops. We also don’t match competitors who are in administration or closing down.

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