Cystitis: What Is It?

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What Is Cystitis?

Learn what cystitis is and what symptoms can help identify cystitis. You can also find out how you can treat cystitis and how you can prevent it from recurring.

Cystitis

Cystitis is the medical name given to an inflammation of the bladder. One out of three women will experience at least one episode in their lifetime. The feeling that you need to urinate more often, and suffering from uncomfortable or even painful urination, are two of the main symptoms that indicate you may be suffering from cystitis.

Normally when you urinate it should not be painful, and your urine should be the colour of straw. The amount of urine you produce varies according to what you've been eating or drinking.

Cystitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection, but it could be the result of damage or irritation to your bladder (non-infectious cystitis). There are many causes of inflammation, so if you suffer frequently from cystitis, keeping a diary and recording when you get cystitis may help you to determine what triggers it for you.

Causes of a bladder infection (infectious cystitis):

  • Not emptying your bladder fully when you urinate

  • Pressure on your bladder due to pregnancy

  • Using a diaphragm

  • Wiping the wrong way after going to the toilet (You should wipe front to back.)

Causes of irritation or damage in your bladder (non-infections cystitis):

  • Hormone changes, e.g., menopause

  • Nicotine

  • Dehydration

  • Vigorous sex

  • Chemicals and perfume in soaps

  • Ketamine use

  • Diabetes

  • Wearing a catheter

What Are the Symptoms of Cystitis?

Most people with cystitis experience symptoms such as:

  • Burning or stinging sensation when you urinate or pain when urinating

  • A frequent need to urinate

  • Feeling that you can't fully empty your bladder

The following symptoms aren’t uncommon but can also be caused by other conditions:

  • Strong smelling urine

  • Cloudy or dark urine

  • Blood in your urine

  • Abdominal pain or backache

  • Fever, temperature and weakness

How to Prevent Cystitis

One of the best ways to prevent cystitis is to stay hydrated. If your urine is straw coloured, you're hydrated enough. Dark coloured urine is a sign you need to drink more. Remember to drink between six to eight glasses of water a day, or more if it’s hot or you’ve been working out.

What Not to Drink

If you’re prone to cystitis, it’s best to avoid drinks that are known to irritate your bladder, including caffeinated, fizzy or alcoholic beverages. Remember, everyone is different, so you might find there’s a particular food or drink that triggers your cystitis. You might want to think about keeping a food and drink diary to help you identify any dietary triggers.

Proper Washing Habits

Good hygiene helps to prevent bacteria from travelling up the urethra and into the bladder, which can help prevent cystitis.

  • Change your tampons or pads frequently.

  • Wash your intimate area with warm water and un-perfumed products.

  • Ensure you wipe from front to back after going to the toilet.

Sex and Cystitis

If you’re having sex, follow these precautions to help prevent cystitis from recurring:

  • Empty your bladder fully after sex.

  • Avoid having sex until your cystitis clears up.

  • Consider changing contraceptives if you use a diaphragm.

You should see your doctor if:

  • You are experiencing cystitis symptoms for the first time.
  • You are suffering from any of the serious symptoms above.
  • You suffer from cystitis more than three times in a year.