Cystitis in Women

Cystitis means inflammation of the bladder. It is an uncomfortable sensation when or immediately after you pass urine. A common cause for cystitis is a urinary tract infection but it may happen for other reasons as well. If you have cystitis and it isn’t clearing up when you increase your fluids, see your doctor to work out what is causing it and how to treat your symptoms.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Burning or stinging sensation when you pass urine.
  • Feeling you need to pass urine immediately.
  • Frequently needing to pass urine, often only small amounts may be passed.

Other symptoms can include-

  • Blood in your urine.
  • Discomfort in your pelvis.
  • Feeling more tired and generally unwell.

What is cystitis?

Cystitis is often caused by a bacterial infection of the urine leading to inflammation of the bladder. Cystitis is more common in women than men because the tube that connects the bladder to the outside world (the urethra) is shorter and opens much nearer to the back passage (anus) than it does in men. Cystitis is common, half of all women will suffer with it at least once in their lives.

Cystitis is more common when:

  • You are pregnant.
  • You are sexually active.
  • You use spermicidal contraceptives.
  • You are postmenopausal.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You have a catheter in your bladder.
  • You have problems with your kidneys, bladder, or urinary system.
  • You are on a medication or have a disease which affects how well your immune system works.

Could my symptoms be caused by another issue?

Sometimes, the products we use to clean ourselves can be harsh and irritate the vaginal area.

Testing for UTI's.

Your Integriti GP, nurse or regular doctor may do a simple dipstick test on a urine sample to check for infection. If the infection does not improve with treatment, or improves but quickly comes back, you will be asked to do a midstream specimen of urine (MSU). This will be looked at with a microscope to confirm the diagnosis and to find out which bacteria is causing the infection.

What are the treatment options for a UTI ?

Antibiotic medication. Evidence shows us that a three-day course of antibiotics is enough to treat a urinary tract infection. Symptoms usually improve 24-48 hours after starting treatment. Sometimes a different antibiotic may be needed if the symptoms don’t clear and the bacteria is resistant to the antibiotics used initially.
Sometimes an infection will clear by itself if you increase your fluids. This is an option for people who are fit and well and not pregnant. If you are pregnant or have certain other medical conditions, you should always be treated with antibiotics to prevent possible complications.

Pain management - Paracetamol or ibuprofen or sachets to neutralise your urine can ease pain or discomfort.
(If your symptoms get worse, you develop a temperature or back pain you should see your doctor. You should also see your doctor if your symptoms do not improve by the end of taking the course of antibiotics or if they come back within two weeks of the course finishing.)

Prevention of cystitis?

You can take simple measures to help reduce your risk of cystitis caused by infection.
  • Wipe your bottom from front to back after going to the toilet.
  • Pass urine after sex.
  • Making sure you don't get dehydrated. Drink 6-8 glasses (1.5-2 litres) of water per day.
  • In postmenopausal women, the use of vaginal oestrogen cream, pessaries or tablets has been shown to reduce the risk of recurrent urinary infections.

If you develop recurrent bouts of cystitis you should see your doctor or an Integriti GP.

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