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Cystitis

Cystitis is very common in women particularly for those who are sexually active. Indeed it would be most unusual for a woman to go through life without having had at least one attack of cystitis or urinary tract infection also known as UTI. The majority of women will have cystitis several times during their lives.

In young men the condition is much rarer. If a young man presents with cystitis this alerts the doctor into investigating it to rule out an underlying cause like kidney infection or pyelonephritis. The reason why men contract cystitis less than do women is thought to be because men, having a much longer urethra, are protected from bacteria entering the bladder. However, in later life older men may start getting cystitis as a consequence of having prostate disease and urinary stasis.

 

Symptoms of Cystitis: The symptoms of cystitis are the same for both men and women and are:

  • Urinary frequency and a feeling of needing to pass water even when the bladder is empty.
  • Burning pain on passing water. This may be particularly acute at the start of urinating. This is called dysurea.
  • Fever and flu-like symptoms.

Causes of Cystitis: In the main the cause of cystitis is bacteria entering the bladder and setting up an infection of the bladder lining. This is sometimes facilitated in women by sexual activity and in older men by urinary stasis due to BPH. Not all cystitis is bacteriological in nature. Viruses can also cause similar symptoms although viral UTI is not as common as bacterial.

 

Treatment of cystitis: In the main cystitis is treated with antibiotics. However it is very important that the type of infection is ascertained first before antibiotics are commenced. Just giving antibiotics without testing for the sensitivity of the bug is poor practise. The test that is carried out is call Urine Culture and Sensitivity. This usually identifies the bacteria and tells the doctor to what antibiotic it is sensitive and to which it may be resistant.

Not all cystitis will require an antibiotic. Some women learn to distinguish between cystitis that may require an antibiotic from those that may not. Often by simple drinking a great deal of fluids and taking cranberry juice the bacteria can be flushed out of the bladder and symptoms made to disappear. Studies have shown that cranberry juice does in fact have mild antiseptic properties and is therefore always useful in the management of cystitis.

 

Prevention of Recurring Cystitis: Here are some measures that may reduce to incidence of recurring UTI:

  • After using the toilet always wipe from front to back to avoid introducing bacteria from rectum to vagina or urethra.
  • Showers should be favoured over baths. Sitting for long periods in hot baths is conducive to bacteria entering the bladder.
  • Tampons should be used rather that sanitary pads.
  • Keep the bladder empty. Do not go for long hours without emptying the bladder.
  • Do not wear tight clothing or underclothing made from non-breathing material like nylon. Cotton is probably best.
  • Drink lots of fluids including regular cranberry juice.

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