Cystitis: Understanding Bladder Inflammation

Cystitis refers to an inflammation of the bladder and is often caused by a bladder infection. Most commonly found in women, cystitis is a common type of urinary tract infection. Though the severity may vary from case-to-case, it is generally considered more of a nuisance than cause for serious concern.

Mild cases of cystitis often improve on their own over the course of several days, however in more severe cases some people experience episodes of cystitis frequently and may need regular or long-term treatment. Some cases of cystitis may also lead to kidney infection, so it’s important to seek the advice of a medical professional.

Symptoms of Cystitis:

  • Pain, burning or stinging during urination
  • Feeling an increased need to pee more often and urgently than normal
  • Urine that’s dark, cloudy or strong smelling
  • Pain in your lower stomach
  • Feeling generally unwell, achy, sick, and tired

Causes for Cystitis:

Most cases are thought to occur when bacteria that lives harmlessly in the bowel or on the skin get into the bladder through the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of your body. It’s not always clear how this happens, however, many of the risk factors thought to be responsible include:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Wiping your bottom after using the bathroom – particularly if you wipe from back to front
  • Inserting a tampon or urinary catheter, a thin tube inserted into the urethra to drain the bladder
  • Using a diaphragm for contraception

Women tend to suffer from cystitis more often than men because their anus is closer to their urethra, and their urethra is much shorter, which means bacteria may be able to get into the bladder more easily.

Tests Used for Diagnosing Cystitis:

Your doctor will discuss your symptoms and any possible causes to gain a better understanding of your specific condition. Your doctor will ask medical history questions, carry out an examination, and do a urine test. Other tests may include:

  • Testing a urine specimen – to determine the type of bacteria in the urine
  • Tests for a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which often have similar symptoms to cystitis
  • An ultrasound scan – used to view other areas of your urinary tract  and examine for abnormalities
  • A cystoscopy – a thin tube with a tiny lens (cystoscope) is inserted into your urethra to check for — and possibly remove — abnormalities in your urinary tract
  • An X-ray – used to view other areas of your urinary tract  and examine for abnormalities

Treatment Options for Cystitis:

Cystitis is highly treatable, and many times can be done without any serious intervention. In many cases, you will be prescribed an antibiotic to treat the infection which should help in as little as one or two days. In addition, there are some at-home treatment options to help you begin feeling better. These include:

  • Taking pain relievers such as Ibuprofen
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Holding a hot water bottle on your lower stomach or between your thighs
  • Avoiding sexual intercourse

While cystitis is fairly common, it can be embarrassing and painful for you as the patient. We at Western Michigan Urological Associates can help alleviate immediate pain and help you develop a plan to improve your quality of life and alleviate symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. Ask Your Primary Care Provider for a Referral.

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