The "itis" in Cystitis literally means inflammation, and in this case inflammation of the bladder; its usual cause is a urine infection.
Most urine infections are due to bacteria (germs) that come from your own bowel. Some bacteria lie around your anus after you pass a stool (faeces). These bacteria can sometimes travel to your urethra and into your bladder. Some bacteria thrive in urine and multiply quickly to cause infection.
However, repeated attacks are now thought to be caused by dormant bacteria already present in bladder cells: Hultgren (Washington University School of Medicine (2007, December 17). Bacteria That Cause Urinary Tract Infections Invade Bladder Cells. Science Daily) suggests that when women are between episodes of symptomatic infection, intracellular E. coli may be in dormant phases, living behind biofilms.
Here are some of the more well-known bacterium that affect the bladder: Proteus, Klebsiella, Enterococcus, Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus.
Other risk factors for cystitis include having diabetes mellitus, being pregnant, being sexually active or having radiotherapy.
Common Cystitis Symptoms
Anyone at any age can experience the symptoms of cystitis, but generally the symptoms are the same and you will experience some or all of the following:
- Pain, burning or stinging when you urinate.
- Urinating often and needing to go urgently but then passing only small amounts of urine, usually with pain and feeling that the bladder still needs to empty.
- Passing urine that is dark, cloudy or strong smelling.
- Having urine that contains traces of blood (haematuria) either visibly or when tested.
- You may feel pain low in your belly, directly above the pubic bone, or in the lower back or abdomen which may also indicate kidney involvement.
- Feeling out of sorts, weak or feverish.
Related Conditions with Similar Symptoms:
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia.
- Vaginal thrush, also known as candida or a yeast infection.
- Inflammation of the urethra or urethritis.
- Urethral syndrome, in women only.
- Inflammation of the prostate gland, also known as prostatitis, in men only.
It is always important to seek medical advice and a diagnosis that you have cystitis.
Who gets cystitis?
Women are eight times more likely to have cystitis than men, as their urethra (the tube from the bladder that passes out urine) is shorter and opens nearer the anus. About half of all women have at least one bout of cystitis. For many, only one or two bouts occur in their lifetime. However, some women have recurring cystitis throughout their lives (see biofilms).
- Young men sometimes think they have cystitis if urinating is painful. Sometimes it is cystitis, caused by some physiological change that allows bacteria to get a hold, but the cause is more likely to be inflammation of the urethra (the tube that runs from the bladder, along the penis). Inflammation of the urethra is called urethritis. It is often caused by a sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia.
- Older men (in their 50s and older) get cystitis much more frequently than younger men. This is because the prostate gland often starts to enlarge in middle age. An enlarged prostate stops the bladder emptying efficiently, and bacteria can breed in the stagnant urine in the bladder. Men, just like women, MUST get a diagnosis promptly.
Babies, toddlers and young children can get cystitis. Symptoms of cystitis in children may include:
- Weakness, sleepiness
- Irritability, crying
- Lack of appetite
- Pain when urinating
Get medical attention promptly as these are also the signs of serious illness in children.
How to Treat Cystitis
- Take dmannose every three hours until you are well.
- Don't take acidifying preparations or drinks, acidic vitamin C, or orange juice - it nullifies the effect of D-Mannose . See: Drinking cranberry juice
- Try to keep your urine slightly on the alkaline side. Some potassium citrate perhaps.
- Cut out sex, alcohol, red meat, coffee, and strong spices. Not forever, of course.
- Try taking some raw garlic and fresh Aloe Vera 3 or 4 times a day.
- Try not to urinate for an hour after taking D-Mannose . You have to give it time to pass through your system into your urine, and get to work in your bladder.
- Take a dose during the night. Often you can flush most of the bacteria away during the day, and the remaining bacteria proliferates in your acidifying urine while you are sleeping. Some people with cystitis need D-Mannose constantly present in their urine until the problem resolves. So if you are waking up more than once during the night, don't go back to bed without any D-Mannose until you are feeling that you are in control of the bacterial growth.