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The answer to Cystitis

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Cystitis is a fairly common lower urinary tract infection, it refers specifically to an inflammation of the bladder wall. Although cystitis is not normally a serious condition, it can be uncomfortable and lead to complications if left untreated.

Fast facts on cystitis:

  • Cystitis is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection.
  • In most cases, mild cystitis will resolve itself within a few days.
  • If it persists for more than 4 days, it should be discussed with a doctor.

What is cystitis?

Cystitis is an infection of the bladder wall that can lead to ongoing discomfort. Cystitis usually occurs when the urethra and bladder, which are normally sterile, or microbe-free, become infected with bacteria.

Bacteria fasten to the lining of the bladder and cause the area to become irritated and inflamed. Cystitis affects people of both sexes and all ages. It is more common among females than males because women have shorter urethras. Around 80 percent of all urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria from the bowel that reach the urinary tract.


  • traces of blood in the urine
  • dark, cloudy, or strong-smelling urine
  • pain just above the pubic bone, in the lower back, or in the abdomen
  • burning sensation when urinating
  • urinating frequently or feeling the need to urinate frequently
  • Elderly individuals may feel weak and feverish but have none of the other symptoms mentioned above. They may also present with altered mental status.
  • There is a frequent need to urinate, but only small amounts of urine are passed each time.
  • When children have cystitis, they may have any of the symptoms listed above, plus vomiting and general weakness.


The prolonged use of a catheter can lead to cystitis.

There are many possible causes of cystitis. Most are infectious, and the majority of these cases stem from an ascending infection. The bacteria enter from the external genitourinary structures.

Risk factors include:

Tampon use: When inserting a tampon, there is a slight risk of bacteria entering via the urethra.

Inserting, changing, or prolonged use of a urinary catheter: There is a chance the catheter will carry bacteria along the urinary tract.

Diaphragm for birth control: There is a higher incidence of cystitis among women who use the diaphragm with spermicides, compared with sexually active women who do not use one.

Full bladder: If the bladder is not emptied completely, it creates an environment for bacteria to multiply. This is fairly common among pregnant women or men whose prostates are enlarged.

Sexual activity: Sexually active women have a higher risk of bacteria entering via the urethra.

Blockage in part of the urinary system that prevents the flow of urine.

Other bladder or kidney problems.


  • Painkillers, may relieve discomfort.
  • Alcohol should be avoided.
  • Refraining from sex reduces the chance of bacteria entering the urethra.
  • Cystitis can be treated with antibiotics.
  • Drink 2-3 litres of fluids (water will do just fine) each day
  • Go to the bathroom as often as you need to, don’t hold it in
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, coffee or citrus juices (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit), as they can irritate the bladder
  • Avoid drinking sugary drinks
  • Drink cranberry juice to prevent future infections (this will not heal current infections but may prevent future bouts). However, do not drink cranberry juice if you are taking a blood-thinning medication such as warfarin
  • Get more Vitamin C (for example from leafy green vegetables and tomatoes)

Most cases of mild cystitis will resolve itself within a few days. Any cystitis that lasts more than 4 days should be discussed with a doctor.

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