What is cystitis?
Cystitis is an infection of the urinary tract, and is an inflammation of the bladder. It is usually the result of a bladder infection and is more common in women than in men. It usually clears up within a few days, but in more complex or recurrent cases, the patient may require more long-term treatment. Although most cystitis is caused by bacteria, there are others caused by other factors, causing other types of cystitis, such as:
- Interstitial cystitis.
- Radiation cystitis.
- Cystitis caused by foreign bodies.
- Drug-induced cystitis.
- Chemical cystitis.
- Cystitis associated with other conditions.
Prognosis of the disease
Cystitis is not usually serious, but if it becomes complicated and treatment is not applied to “cut it off” in time, it can not only become very annoying, but also be a serious health problem, extending to the kidneys. The main complications that can occur are:
- Kidney infection or pyelonephritis, damaging the kidneys permanently.
- Blood in the urine.
Symptoms of cystitis
Symptoms of cystitis include:
- Need to urinate more often than normal, and even need to urinate all the time.
- Urinating continuously but very small amounts.
- Cloudy urine.
- Hematuria, when cystitis has progressed to a more serious infection.
- Dark urine.
- Urine with strong color.
- pain in the lower abdomen
- Feeling of general malaise.
In addition, in children it can also cause
- Lack of appetite.
- feeling of weakness
Medical tests for cystitis
In addition to the symptoms and signs that the patient may suffer, there are other tests that can help in the diagnosis:
- Urinalysis to study whether blood particles, pus or bacteria are present. In such a case a bacterial urine culture may be required.
- Cystoscopy. The specialist inserts a cystoscope (a small tube with a light and camera) into the bladder through the urethra to view the urinary tract and see signs of cystitis. The cystoscope also allows tissue samples or small biopsies to be taken.
- X-rays or ultrasound to help the specialist discover other causes of bladder inflammation, such as tumors or abnormalities of the internal structures.
What are the causes of cystitis?
Most cystitis is caused by bacteria. This occurs when bacteria outside the body enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply. In most cases it is the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli).
Bacterial bladder infections can arise for various reasons. In women, in many cases they can arise as a result of sexual intercourse. However, even when women are not sexually active or are girls, they can also suffer from milder infections, as the female genital area harbors bacteria that can cause cystitis.
Other causes that can lead to bacterial cystitis are: insertion of tampons, use of a diaphragm, insertion of a urinary catheter, wiping from back to front when going to the bathroom, etc. On the other hand, there are non-infectious cystitis, where other factors can cause the bladder to become inflamed, such as:
- Interstitial cystitis. The cause lies in a chronic inflammation of the bladder, or painful bladder syndrome. It affects mostly women and can be difficult to diagnose and treat.
- Radiation cystitis. Treatments involving radiation to the pelvic area may cause inflammatory changes in the bladder tissue.
- Foreign body cystitis. Prolonged use of a catheter can cause bacterial infections but also tissue damage, which can lead to inflammation.
- Drug-induced cystitis. Some medications, especially chemotherapy drugs, can cause inflammation in the bladder when the body expels their broken-down components.
- Chemical cystitis. Some people are very sensitive to chemicals contained in some products, such as foaming bath gels, feminine hygiene sprays or spermicidal gels. This can cause allergic reactions and inflammation in the bladder.
- Cystitis associated with other conditions. Sometimes other diseases can cause cystitis, such as diabetes, kidney stones, prostate enlargement or spinal cord injury.
Can it be prevented?
A number of recommendations can be followed to prevent cystitis. Thus, cranberry juice or taking pills containing proanthocyanidins can reduce the risk of recurrent bladder infections in some women. However, the benefit of cranberries is not very significant in some cases.
The main preventive measure for cystitis is the cystitis vaccine itself.
In addition to this, there are a number of preventive measures that specialists recommend:
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, and more so if the patient is undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
- Urinate frequently, without delaying going to the bathroom if necessary.
- Showering instead of bathing. If the person is prone to infections, it is best not to stay in the bathtub for long periods of time.
- Wipe from front to back after bowel movements to prevent any bacteria from spreading to the vagina and urethra.
- Go to the bathroom and empty your bladder as soon as possible after sexual intercourse and drink a glass of water to flush out bacteria. – Wash the area around the anus and vagina daily and gently, trying to rub and avoiding harsh soaps, as the skin in this area is delicate.
- Avoid using aerosol deodorants or feminine products in the genital area, as they can be irritating.
Treatments for cystitis
Bacterial cystitis is mainly treated with antibiotics to stop the infection. However, treatment of non-bacterial cystitis will depend on the secondary cause. In any case, treatment will depend on the recurrence of infections:
- First-time infection. Symptoms may improve even on the first day of taking antibiotics. However, it is normal for the patient to take antibiotics for three days to one week, depending on the severity of the symptoms. It is important that antibiotic treatments are completed at the doses recommended by the specialist, in addition to making sure that the infection has completely disappeared.
- Recurrent infections. If the patient has recurrent urinary tract infections, the physician may recommend a longer course of antibiotics or refer the person to a specialist in Urology or Nephrology for further evaluation.
Which specialist treats it?
The specialists who treat cystitis are urologists, gynecologists and pediatric urologists.