Cystitis is a very common infection that can cause a great deal of distress and pain. Traditionally, treatment was focused on natural and preventative treatments, with an emphasis on drinking plenty of water and cranberry juice. Today, there is also the option of the prescription medication Trimethoprim, which is clinically proven to treat the infection quickly, and is often recommended to women who suffer from frequent recurrent infections of this kind.
Dr Hilary Jones discusses cystitis treatment options
Trimethoprim is an oral medication that comes in tablet form. As well as being an effective as-needed medication, it can also be taken as a preventative treatment over a long-term period. It is an antibiotic medication which is clinically proven to treat the infection, with noticeable improvements in just 24 hours. Trimethoprim prevents the bacterial cells from producing folate, which is vital for the multiplication of the cells. This means the infection cannot spread, so the body’s natural immune system is better equipped to fight off the bacterial cells that remain.
In some cases, a cystitis infection is fairly mild and prescription treatment may not be necessary. Some women find that over the counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol will be sufficient to ease the pain brought on by the infection. There are also over the counter products which are said to help alleviate the pain of cystitis, including Cymalon and Cystopurin. It is worth noting that over the counter products often contain very low dosages of medication and as such are not likely to be as effective as prescription medication.
In addition to over the counter painkillers such as those mentioned above, those suffering from mild cases of cystitis are usually advised to increase their intake of water, as this can help to keep the bladder - the source of the infection - flushed. Cranberry juice is often recommended in addition to drinking plenty of water, as it is believed that it is able to stop particular bacteria from attaching itself to the lining of the bladder. However, there is still an ongoing debate about how effective drinking cranberry juice really is as a preventative measure or treatment, although many women claim that it works well for them.
As with many conditions and infections, it is better to prevent an infection than to treat it. Regularly drinking plenty of water is recommended for a variety of health reasons, and it is believed that it is particularly beneficial when it comes to keeping cystitis at bay. Cranberry juice is believed by many to help to prevent the development of the infection, and can also be taken in capsule form for those who dislike the taste. Some women have found that certain drinks like coffee, fruit juices and spicy foods can aggravate their cystitis, so these could also be avoided.
It is usually recommended that you urinate immediately after sex to eliminate any bacteria, and it is generally a good idea to urinate frequently, approximately once every three hours, and to fully empty the bladder. Don’t wait to go to the toilet if you need to urinate as this can aggravate the bladder; it’s best to go as soon as you feel the need. You should also take care to wipe from front to back once you have been to the toilet, to prevent any anal bacteria from finding its way into your urethra.
Women who are susceptible to recurrent cystitis infections should avoid using cleansing products such as bubble bath, soap and talcum powder on the vaginal area that are perfumed, as they can act as irritants to the area. You can also choose to have a shower rather than a bath if you are prone to recurrent cystitis, so your genitals aren’t exposed to the chemicals in your cleansing products for too long.
Finally, you can ensure that you always wear cotton underwear and that you avoid wearing jeans or trousers that are too tight, as they can rub on the genital area, causing you to sweat and aggravate the cystitis infection.