What is cystitis?

Cystitis is the medical term for inflammation of the bladder, usually caused by a bladder infection. It is more common in women than men. Mild cases usually do not need treatment with antibiotics and will often get better within a few days by themselves. Some people may experience more severe symptoms and require antibiotic treatment

What are the symptoms of cystitis?

The main symptoms of cystitis include:

  • pain, burning or stinging when you pee
  • needing to pee more often and urgently than normal
  • urine that’s dark, cloudy or strong smelling
  • pain low down in your tummy
  • feeling generally unwell, achy, sick and tired
  • Passing smaller volume of urine than usual

What causes cystitis?

The main cause of cystitis tends to be due to bacteria getting into the bladder through the tube that carries urine out from your body (Urethra) 

Cystitis is much more common in women than in men due to women having a much shorter urethra and it is more closer to the back passage (anus) which means bacteria can get into the bladder more easily. Usually e-coli type of bacteria is responsible for the infection.

Other factors which can increase the risk of cystitis include:

  • sexual intercourse
  • wiping from back to front after going to the toilet
  • having a urinary catheter
  • using a diaphragm for contraception
  • having diabetes
  • wearing tight underwear
  • being pregnant

How can cystitis be treated?

Mild cystitis usually clears on its own over a few days. If you have mild symptoms or to try and prevent cystitis, it may help if you wear loose cotton underwear, passing urine after intercourse, drink plenty of liquids and to wipe from front to back after going to the toilet.

Sometimes the symptoms are more severe or women find they are having recurring cystitis. In these cases, antibiotics to treat infections causing cystitis can be effective and can relieve symptoms of cystitis. Trimethoprim and nitrofurantoin are both antibiotics which are most commonly used to eliminate bacteria which cause urine infections.

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