Cystitis – Bladder Infection
Cystitis is a common urinary tract infection that usually occurs when bacteria enter the opening of the urethra and multiply.
A bladder infection can be painful and annoying, and it can become a serious health problem if the infection spreads to your kidneys.
What are the Symptoms of Cystitis?
The common signs of cystitis include:
- Burning sensation during urination
- Frequent urination (or feeling the need to urinate frequently)
- Cloudy urine
- Pain in the abdomen or pubic area
- Traces of blood in the urine
- Temporary incontinence
When a child has cystitis, vomiting and general weakness can also be symptoms.
Urgent, frequent or painful urination that lasts for several hours is an indicator that treatment may be required for a UTI.
Your doctor will review your symptoms, and may perform a pelvic exam. Diagnosis will generally be straightforward, especially if you have had cystitis before.
The following tests may also be performed in some cases:
- Urine analysis: A urine sample is taken to be cultured for bacteria.
- Cystoscopy: A thin tube with an attached camera is inserted through the urethra to view the bladder and the extent of the UTI. A small tissue sample can be taken for biopsy if the doctor deems necessary. This test is more often used in cases of repeated urinary tract infections.
- Medical Imaging: Only, if the doctor is concerned about a possible abnormality in the urinary tract, an X-Ray or ultra-sound might be ordered.
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Causes of a Urinary Tract Infection
A UTI is caused by bacteria getting in through the urethra (where your urine comes out). This can happen several different ways:
- Sexual intercourse may carry bacteria into the urethra.
- Inserting or changing a urinary catheter can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract.
- Urine retention can make a UTI more likely. When the bladder isn’t fully emptied, the remaining urine is a breeding ground for bacteria.
- The onset of menopause causes a thinning of the lining in the urethra, leaving it more vulnerable to bacteria penetration. Menopause also reduces vaginal mucus which serves as a barrier to bacteria.
- Diaphragms: Women who use diaphragms have a higher risk for cystitis as compared to different types of birth control.
A short course of antibiotics may be prescribed speed the cure of the infection and reduce symptoms. In some cases, cystitis will resolve itself without medication.
In the case of a history of cystitis and recurring UTI’s, your physician may decide to increase the strength and/or duration of the antibiotics.
If your symptoms return when the antibiotics are complete, please contact the doctor immediately.
There are some actions that have been found to reduce risk of recurrent infections:
- Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water.
- Empty your bladder regularly to flush out any bacteria.
- Eating yogurt with active cultures may help.
- Some women find that acidifying the urine with cranberry or vitamin C supplements provides a benefit. This is not proven by scientific studies.
- Voiding immediately after sex may have a benefit.
- After menopause, estrogen supplements may reduce the risk. This should be discussed with your doctor.
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