What is cystitis?
Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder, typically caused by a bacterial infection in the bladder (bladder infection). Cystitis is quite common and is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI). It’s more common in women than in men, and is easily managed. Mild cases will often disappear on their own, but more severe or recurrent cystitis should be treated with antibiotics.
What are the symptoms of cystitis in women?
The symptoms of a bladder infection, or cystitis, include:
- Pain, burning or stinging during urination
- A strong, persistent urge to urinate
- Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
- Dark, cloudy, or strong smelling urine
- Pain low down in the stomach
- General feelings of unwellness, including aches, tiredness and a low-grade fever
What causes cystitis in women?
Cystitis is caused by a number of factors that are typically part of everyday life. Frequent causes of cystitis include:
- Sexual intercourse
- Improper wiping technique when using the toilet
- Using a diaphragm for contraception
- Wearing thong underwear
- Not passing urine after sexual intercourse (women)
- The use of feminine hygiene sprays
Women are more susceptible to cystitis than men, as women’s urinary tracts are closer to their anuses, facilitating the spread of bacteria from the feces to the urethra.
How can you treat cystitis in women?
While mild cystitis will generally clear on its own, recurrent or more severe urinary tract infections need to be treated with antibiotic tablets. Trimethoprim tablets are an effective antibiotic treatment for bladder infections.
How can you help prevent cystitis in women?
There are a few precautions you can take to prevent cystitis. These include:
- Passing urine after sexual intercourse
- Drink plenty of liquids
- Wipe from front to back
- Avoid feminine hygiene products such as douches and deodorant sprays
- Consider changing your birth control method if you use a diaphragm
- Wear cotton underwear
Frequently Asked Questions
Terminology: Bladder infection, UTI, and cystitis, what’s the difference?
Cystitis is the medical term for inflammation of the bladder. Generally, inflammation of the bladder (cystitis) is caused by a bacterial infection called a urinary tract infection (UTI). The terms bladder infection and UTI are often used interchangeably, although medically they are slightly different.
What are some home remedies for a UTI or cystitis?
Take paracetamol or ibuprofen. This will help ease discomfort caused by the bladder infection. Drink a lot of water. Drinking lots of water helps to flush the bacteria out of your bladder.
Some people believe that drinking cranberry juice or eating cranberries can prevent and ease symptoms. However, the studies behind these claims are contradictory, so the scientific explanation as to whether or not cranberries can ease and prevent cystitis is inconclusive.
While these might ease your symptoms, they are insufficient at completely clearing up infections. For antibiotics to help treat cystitis, click here.
What can you do to get some relief from cystitis symptoms?
In addition to taking antibiotics, you can take some paracetamol or ibuprofen to get some relief from cystitis or bladder infection. It is also crucial that you drink lots of water.
How long does treatment take?
You should see significant improvements in 3-14 days*. However, results can vary from person to person.
Generally, bladder infections or cystitis do not take long to be treated. Mild cases will often clear up in a few days on their own, but more serious infections can be treated with antibiotics. Treating cystitis usually involves taking one tablet twice a day for three days - you should notice a significant improvement to your symptoms within this time frame. If your symptoms persist or worsen, you require additional tests to establish why Trimethoprim has failed to help.
* please note results, timeframe and individual responses to treatments may vary from person to person. If you do need medical advice you should always speak to a doctor, pharmacist or appropriate medical professional.
Can feminine hygiene products prevent the incidence of cystitis?
No! In fact, feminine hygiene products can lead to more frequent bladder infections. This is because feminine hygiene products remove the good bacteria, the bacteria that helps to fight infection, from the vagina.