Diseases

Cystitis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Cystitis

Cystitis, bladder infection or cystitis are the various names for an infection or inflammation of the bladder or urinary tract. Mostly women suffer from this disease. Typical signs of a bladder infection are pain and burning in the lower abdomen when urinating and a constant urge to urinate.

What is cystitis?

Bladder infections (also: bladder infections, cystitis) are usually recognized fairly quickly by those affected. Pain in the abdomen, a constant urge to urinate and painful urination are the typical symptoms of this disease. Usually the entire wall or mucous membrane of the bladder is inflamed, which is the cause of the unbearable pain.

Bladder inflammation is also called bladder catarrh or urinary tract infection among physicians. In the case of bladder infections, a distinction is made between acute, which occurs suddenly, and chronic, which recurs over and over again. During pregnancy , the risk of inflammation increases because urine flows more slowly through the urethra and it can no longer be cleaned sufficiently. Pregnant women should therefore also support their bladder during pregnancy with herbal remedies from the pharmacy . This protects you from a bladder infection.

causes

Bladder infections are usually caused by bacteria from the intestinal flora, but worms or viruses can also trigger the inflammation. These get into the urethra through smear infections or through faeces. The bacteria migrate up there and infect the bladder.

Mostly women get cystitis because the urethra is shorter than that of men and it is also closer to the anus. Especially during sexual intercourse, many women contract cystitis due to smear infections. This is why women are more likely to get bladder infections.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A bladder infection is noticeable through typical symptoms. These primarily include a frequent urge to urinate and a burning sensation when urinating. Inflammation of the urinary bladder is usually limited to the lower urinary tract.

With uncomplicated cystitis, there are complaints that are considered characteristic of the disease. These include the frequent urge to urinate, burning pain when urinating and the frequent urination of small amounts of urine. It is not uncommon for those affected to feel that they are pressing against resistance when going to the toilet.

Because the bladder contracts spasmodically when you urinate, this causes pain. If only small amounts of urine are excreted when going to the toilet, although there is a strong urge to urinate, doctors speak of pollakiuria. In the case of a bladder infection, other symptoms are also possible, such as hematuria (blood in the urine) or urine that looks cloudy and smells unpleasant. The urge to urinate is particularly intense at night, which doctors call nocturia .

In some cases, the inflammation of the bladder spreads to other organs such as the kidneys or the prostate gland in men. This becomes noticeable through further complaints such as pain in the back or on the flanks or fever . If women suffer from an inflamed bladder, it is not uncommon for them to have an intense discharge. This is especially the case when the inflammation spreads to the vagina.

Course

Bladder infections are diagnosed by a doctor based on a urine test. If the urine is purulent, bloody or smells unpleasant, this is already a clear sign of a bladder infection. In a microscopic examination, the doctor finds white blood cells, mucus, cell debris or bacteria in the urine if the result is positive.

If a bladder infection is detected early, it usually heals completely within a few days. If diagnosed late, however, the bacteria can also travel through the ureter to other organs and damage them.

For example, if they attack the kidneys, this can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which is manifested by fever , chills and pain when urinating. If the infestation is particularly severe, it can even lead to kidney failure.

In addition, an untreated bladder infection can spread to blood poisoning . If the inflammation keeps coming back, the bladder can be permanently damaged. Necrosis, the tissue, can die or harden. As a result, the bladder shrinks and, in particularly severe cases, has to be surgically removed. Therefore, never underestimate a bladder infection.

complications

Bladder infection can lead to complications, especially if left untreated. Milder forms do not necessarily have to be treated with antibiotics, but it is strongly recommended if the symptoms worsen. Antibiotics kill the pathogens and prevent them from spreading through the ureter.

If this does not happen, the risk of chronic cystitis, which occurs again and again at relatively short intervals, and of other diseases increases. These can be inflammation of the kidneys or renal pelvis, the course of which is significantly more severe than with simple cystitis. If no action is taken then, even blood poisoning as a result of inflammation of the renal pelvis is possible.

While the epididymis can also be affected by the pathogens in men, cystitis is particularly critical for pregnant women because it can lead to premature birth and miscarriage . For this reason, pregnant women are regularly checked for this. However, even with antibiotic therapy, it is possible for the above complications to occur.

Especially in the case of multiple cystitis, the pathogens can develop resistance to the agent used. Therefore, it should not be taken for longer than necessary. The antibiotics themselves can also cause side effects, as they also attack bacteria that are not harmful to humans. Gastrointestinal problems and allergies can also occur.

When should you go to the doctor?

Cystitis is a disease that occurs frequently, especially in women, and often goes away without medical attention. Nevertheless, there are a number of reasons that may make a visit to the doctor necessary.

First of all, this concerns the duration of the complaints. Many of those affected manage to effectively combat the symptoms by drinking a sufficiently large amount, warmth (both on the stomach and in the area of ​​the feet) and, if necessary, home remedies such as taking products that contain a high proportion of cranberries. However, if the signs of cystitis have not disappeared after a few days, a medical check-up is advisable. This applies in particular to patients who are pregnant or are currently being treated for an unfulfilled desire to have children.

In addition to the stubbornness of the symptoms, there are a number of other symptoms that should be assessed by the doctor. These include blood in the urine, annoying itching in the genital area, severe pain in the abdomen and kidneys and, in particular, fever. Here, a serious infection can be ruled out, which could possibly reach the kidneys via the urinary tract.

This can not only lead to massive pain, but also to other serious complications that require rapid therapeutic help. The earlier the doctor’s visit, the faster the medical measures usually take effect.

Treatment & Therapy

Acute cystitis is usually treated with antibiotics , as the symptoms disappear quickly. The duration of administration is usually between three to ten days.

Unfortunately, some bladder infection pathogens are now resistant to the active ingredient in the antibiotic, so that quinolones are also prescribed in special cases.

Antibiotics are also prescribed for chronic cystitis. However, this is taken for a period of four to six weeks, in some cases even longer. Painkillers are often prescribed to relieve the urinary symptoms. If you also want to speed up the healing process yourself, make sure that you drink a lot. This flushes the bacteria out of your body faster and also cleans the urinary tract.

A hot water bottle or sitz baths can also relax your lower body, thereby relieving pain. Also make sure that you wrap up your abdomen as warmly as possible. Bacteria find it difficult to multiply in heat, which leads to faster healing. It is best to go straight to the doctor if you have a bladder infection.

↳ Further information: Home remedies for cystitis

Outlook & Forecast

Most bladder infections are harmless and heal well with the administration of antibiotics at the latest. This also applies to people who suffer from cystitis very often. Even with them, the inflammation can usually be classified as harmless, especially if it is treated well and quickly. Nevertheless, the risk of suffering from a bladder infection increases with age, especially in women.

The prognosis regarding the occurrence of further bladder infections can deteriorate here due to some risk factors. These include, for example, a high amount of residual urine, the development of resistance from pathogens or a general susceptibility to infection. Accordingly, those affected are more frequently and more severely affected by bladder infections.

The only times a bladder infection can become serious is when the bacteria migrate to the kidneys and go untreated despite a long-standing infection. The first case can expand into kidney and renal pelvis inflammation, which in the worst case leads to blood sepsis , which is life-threatening.

An inflammation involving the kidneys will heal without consequences after professional treatment. Drinking plenty of fluids speeds up the healing of cystitis by flushing out the bacteria. Home remedies (e.g. cranberry juice) also have a positive effect on healing. Accordingly, the healing process can be accelerated.

aftercare

Cystitis is a disease that can often progress from an acute course to a chronic manifestation. For this reason, consistent aftercare is very important. In this way it can also be avoided that the clinical picture shifts upwards from the bladder area to the kidney area. Follow-up care can be carried out by the patient himself, also in conjunction with the family doctor or urologist, and is closely linked to behaviors that prevent the disease from flaring up again.

In this context, drinking enough is a particularly important criterion for efficient aftercare. Because cystitis is based on bacterial processes. If enough liquid is supplied to the urinary tract, such bacteria can be effectively flushed out so that they cannot ascend to the kidney area and also cannot multiply. It is also important that the patient does not push back urine for this reason, but goes to the toilet when the bladder is full.

There are a number of natural remedies that have proven to be very effective in cystitis and are therefore valuable and side-effect-free helpers in the context of aftercare. These include cranberries and preparations with cranberries, which have proven to be powerful partners against acute and relapsing, i.e. recurring bladder infections. Warmth in the foot and lower torso areas can also support the aftercare of the cystitis.

You can do that yourself

The most important thing in the case of a bladder infection is to drink a lot and pass a lot of urine, as this is how pathogens are flushed out. A drinking quantity of at least two liters per day should be observed.

In the course of this, the milieu in the bladder itself can be influenced in such a way that it prevents bacteria from growing. Despite the pain when urinating, it is important to adhere to the amount you drink, because concentrated urine irritates the bladder and urinary tract even more. Prescribed antibiotic therapy should also be continued.

While sugar helps the bacteria to grow, lingonberry , cranberry and blueberry juice , thanks to the substance proanthocyanidin they contain, can make it more difficult for the pathogens to get hold of the bladder wall, which makes rinsing them out even easier. In combination with special kidney and bladder tests, which contain plant-based diuretic substances, the bladder is cleaned in this way.

Coffee , alcohol and citrus juices are not recommended as they further irritate the bladder and make it more susceptible to bacteria.

Hot water bottles on the lower abdomen or between the legs can help the sufferer to relieve the pain. Sitz baths also have a relaxing effect and can also make urination easier.

Sitting upright when going to the toilet also ensures a better and more thorough emptying of the bladder.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.