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Articles Cystitis
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Cystitis

The "itis" in Cystitis literally means inflammation, and in this case inflammation of the bladder. Its the most common type of Urinary Tract Infection and it's usual cause is a urine infection due to bacteria that originate in your bowel. These bacteria can sometimes enter your urethra and travel into your bladder.

Repeated attacks, or chronic infections are referred to as Interstitial Cystitis and are thought to be caused by dormant bacteria already present in bladder cells. Other risk factors for cystitis include having diabetes mellitus, being pregnant, intimacy, radiotherapy and the use of foreign substances or irritants such as hygiene products, diaphragms or catheters.

Common Cystitis Symptoms

Cystitis can occur in both adults and children and will generally present with some or all of the following the symptoms:

  • Pain, burning or stinging when you urinate.
  • Urinating frequently, usually with pain.
  • Urgent need to urinate, then passing only small amounts of urine.
  • Passing urine that is dark, cloudy or strong smelling.
  • Feeling that the bladder still needs to emptied after urinating.
  • Having urine that contains traces of blood (haematuria) either visibly or when tested.
  • Lower abdominal cramps, directly above the pubic bone.
  • You may feel pain low in the lower back or abdomen which may also indicate kidney infection.
  • Feeling out of sorts, weak or feverish.

Additional Symptoms of Cystitis in Children

  • Weakness, sleepiness
  • Irritability, crying
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Pain when urinating

When to see a Doctor

It is important for anyone who regularly suffers from the symptoms of cystitis to seek medical help. If you suspect you have an infection, you can test your urine at home with urine test strips, which have elements for spotting infection.

Prevalence

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Anatomy of the Female Urinary Tract showing the 3 main types of Urinary Tract Infection

Of the 3 main types of Urinary Tract Infection (Kidney Infection, Bladder Infection or Cystitis, and Urethral Infection) Cystitis is by far the most prevalent across all people.

Women are eight times more likely to have cystitis than men, as both the urethra and perenium are shorter. About half of all women have at least one bout of cystitis during their lifetime. Of those who contract Cystitis, at least 1 in 4 will have a recurrent episode within the first 6 months, and about 1 in 5 will have recurring cystitis throughout their lives.

About 10% of men will contract at least one Urinary Tract Infection their lifetime, and this may develop into a prostate infection known as bacterial prostatitis. Its important for men to urinate after intimacy as any seminal fluid remaining in the genitals provides an aqueous path for bacteria to travel through the urethra.

Young men sometimes think they have cystitis if urinating is painful. Sometimes it is cystitis, caused by some physiological change that allows bacteria to proliferate, but the cause is more likely to be inflammation of the urethra. Inflammation of the urethra is called urethritis. It is often caused by diseases such as chlamydia.

Men aged over 50 contract 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 seek prompt diagnosis.

Infants, toddlers and young children can also get cystitis, with girls much more likely to get Cystitis than boys.

Causes

E. coli is thought to be responsible for up to 90% of Urinary Tract Infections. Some other well-known bacterium that affect the bladder include: Proteus, Klebsiella, Enterococcus, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus.

In women, the urethra is shorter and this is thought to be one reason that women are more likely to experience Urinary Tract Infections. In men, the invading bacteria can also reach the prostate.

Bacteria can enter the urethra from the exterior and travel up to the bladder causing a urinary tract infection. If left untreated this can progress to a more serious kidney infection. Sometimes, the bacteria can originate from inside the body, for instance in the case of septicemia where the bacteria has infected the urinary tract from the bloodstream.

Risk Factors

  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual Intimacy
  • Irritation caused by Radiotherapy
  • Foreign substances or irritants such as hygiene products
  • Foreign objects such as Diaphragms or Catheters
  • Contaminated Food or Water

Diagnosis

Your Doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. They may ask you for a urine sample for bacteria to help confirm the diagnosis. Identifying the type of bacteria present in an established infection also helps with treatment. Ask your doctor which bacteria are present or consider paying for a private urine bacterial culture test.

A Cystoscopy, a procedure is used to examine the bladder, may be ordered for repeat infections. A cystoscope is a thin tube with a light and camera attached to one end, which is passed into your bladder via your urethra. During cystoscopy a Doctor is able to:

  • Examine the lining of your bladder
  • Take biopsies of suspicious areas
  • Remove a surface tumour
  • Take samples for urine tests
  • Perform an ultrasound scan

Natural Treatments

  • Take D'Mannose every three hours until you are well.
  • Avoid acidifying foods or drinks, such as cranberry and orange juice.
  • Alkalise your urine.
  • Eliminate alcohol, red meat, coffee, and strong spices from the diet.
  • Drink plenty of water.

Conventional Treatments

Mild cases may clear up on their own after a few days. Depending on the severity of your case, your Doctor may suggest you take paracetamol or ibuprofen, or prescribe a short course of antibiotics. For repeat infections a higher strength, broad-spectrum antibiotic may be prescribed for a longer duration, sometimes up to several months.

Surgical Interventions

Surgical interventions such as Internal Pouches, Orthotopic Diversion, Augmentation Cystoplasty and Urinary Diversion are a last resort recommended to patients diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis.

Prevention

  • Take D'Mannose once daily.
  • Maintain high standards of hygiene.
  • Urinate as soon as possible after intimacy (men and women).
  • Change to an alkalising diet to help keep your urine alkaline.
  • Drink plenty of clean water.
  • Cook poultry well and wash utensils before using with other foods.

Home Remedies / Traditional Medicines

The following herbs and medicines are said to help alleviate the symptoms of bladder and urinary tract infections. Long term diuretic use, may significantly increase the acidity of the urine and cause excessive loss of magnesium.


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Uva Ursi Uva Ursi or Bearberry, has been traditionally used as an antiseptic with soothing properties.
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Goldenseal Root Goldenseal Root or Orangeroot is a perennial herb in the buttercup family that is said to act as a powerful natural antibiotic.
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Cleavers Cleavers or goosegrass is an exotic plant and an old herbalist's remedy for urinary infections.
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Marshmallow Root Fresh Marshmallow Root has been used for centuries as a very soothing properties.
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Buchu Buchu is a South African plant with soothing diuretic and antiseptic for the urinary system.
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Horsetail Horsetail or Puzzlegrass is a plant that is an astringent and mild diuretic with healing properties.
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Usnea Lichen Usnea Lichen or "Old Man's Beard" is a shrub with soothing and antiseptic, this tea can help ease the pain.
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Corn silk Corn silk, the thread-like fibres that cover a regular cob of corn, may help you to pass water, so can be good for damaged kidneys.
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Baking Soda Baking Soda, or Sodium bicarbonate, is said to help detoxify the kidneys and stop the spread of infection.
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Fresh Garlic Bulbs Try taking 1 or 2 cloves of raw garlic and fresh Aloe Vera 3 or 4 times a day.

Prognosis

Of the women who contract Cystitis for the first time, the majority will go on to lead normal lives without repeat attacks. 1 in 4 will require at least some further treatment or intervention, and 1 in 5 will develop Interstitial Cystitis.

After an infection has been successfully treated, there can be a residual problem of increased urinary frequency. Regular symptoms will subside, however there may be a need to urinate more often than is comfortable. Discharging urine before the bladder has reached its normal capacity, over a period of months, may have caused the bladder to shrink. You can try countering the shrinkage by waiting a little longer, allowing the bladder to stretch, and restore it's normal capacity. This may take several weeks.

What may work for some, may not work for others. Arm yourself with the tools and the knowledge that you need, and you will find your own personal regime for good bladder health and should be able to lead a normal life.

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