Cystitis: start your consultation
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Cystitis is a common bladder infection that causes many women pain and discomfort. Most cases are mild and treatable. However, treatment can help speed up recovery.
Learn more about the causes and symptoms of cystitis as well as the treatment options available.
Cystitis is a type of lower urinary tract infection (UTI). It most commonly affects women. It is estimated that by the age of 24,will have had at least one episode of a UTI.
1 in 3 women will have had cystitis by the age of 24.
For most people, symptoms are mild and go away without treatment. However, some get frequent bouts of the infection.of women will have frequent UTIs.
Men can also experience UTIs but it is more uncommon. Symptoms in men usually indicate a more serious problem such as in the prostate or kidney.
So, men should always speak to their GP if they are experiencing symptoms.
There are several types of cystitis, each with its own causes and risk factors.
What type you have will decide what treatment you will need.
The most common cause of urinary tract infections is bacteria. This happens when bacteria from the anus enter the urinary tract.
Women have a shorter urethra than men, which is why women get UTIs more frequently.
There are various ways bacteria can infect the urinary tract. The main two ways include:
You can also get UTIs from having sex. However, it is not considered an STI. Having sex can push bacteria up into the bladder, which can cause an infection. There is also a chance that you can spread the bacteria to your partner through sex.
With other types of cystitis, the causes are more varied:
Interstitial cystitis has no clear cause. Experts believe it could be due to problems with the pelvic floor muscles, the bladder lining or the immune system.
Certain factors mean you’re more likely to get cystitis than others, such as if you:
There are four main symptoms of urinary tract infections.
Painful, burning or stinging sensation when urinating
Having to urinate more frequently and more urgently
Change in urine colour and odour (urine may be cloudy or darker in colour)
Lower stomach pain and bloating
Symptoms may appear differently in men, the elderly and young children.
For instance, children may wet the bed, feel weak or have a high temperature. Men may also experience trouble urinating, especially if they have issues with their prostate.
Interstitial cystitis is a lifelong condition. It is not caused by a bacterial infection, unlike most UTIs.
It requires ongoing treatment and lifestyle changes, so it’s important to recognise the symptoms.
UTI symptoms can look like several other conditions, so any worrying symptoms should be seen by your doctor as soon as possible.
See your GP if:
Some of these symptoms may be a sign of a more serious infection, like a kidney infection. Rarely, it may signal types of bladder cancer.
In most mild urinary tract infections will go away on their own. However, there are things you can do to make it more comfortable, such as:
Some people drink cranberry juice or take cranberry products for cystitis relief. However, there is not much evidence that they are effective. They may worsen the condition due to the high sugar content in these products.
You can also take a course of antibiotics to treat the infection. The first line treatment for cystitis in women is Nitrofurantoin. It works by stopping the bacteria from spreading, which kills the infection.
The second-line treatment is Trimethoprim. It has high antibiotic resistance. So, you should only take it if you know that the strain of bacteria is sensitive to this antibiotic. To find this out, you will need to have a urine test.
Antibiotic treatment may be suitable for cystitis in pregnancy but always consult your doctor first.
If you find you get cystitis often, you may need a different course of treatment.
For recurrent infections, you may be prescribed a low-dose antibiotic that you take daily for up to 6 months.
If you often get cystitis after sex, your GP may recommend you take a single-dose antibiotic within 2 hours of having sex.
If you have been through menopause, a prescription treatment that may help is a vaginal oestrogen cream like Estriol. Vaginal dryness is a common complication of menopause and is a risk factor for UTIs. The cream provides direct relief for dryness and will help reduce recurrent cystitis.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for IC.
A specialist may recommend prescription treatment to help relax the bladder muscles or repair the bladder lining. They may also recommend stronger painkillers.
For some, a specialist may suggest surgery if you have complications from the condition.
However, the majority of treatment is lifestyle changes. You may need to follow an interstitial cystitis-friendly diet, manage your stress and retrain your bladder.
To prevent symptoms, there are some home remedies and things you should do if you are prone to urinary tract infections.
If you get UTIs often, these lifestyle changes will help prevent you from getting recurrent bouts.
You can order medication for cystitis at HealthExpress. Nitrofurantoin and Trimethoprim are available for women with UTIs.
You must complete a short, confidential medical consultation online beforehand. One of our UK-registered doctors will review your details and make sure you are suitable for treatment.
Once approved, your medication will be dispatched directly to your door with free next-day delivery.