Cystitis: What Is It and What Are the Symptoms?

When it comes to maintaining good health, being aware of different health conditions and their symptoms can make a significant difference. Let’s explore cystitis, a common infection that affects millions of people each year, with insights from Dr. Natalia Hapych.

What is Cystitis?

“Cystitis is an inflammation of your bladder. It’s typically caused by a urinary tract infection (UTI),” explains Dr. Hapych. “While it can affect anyone, it’s more prevalent in women due to their anatomical structure.”

There are different types of cystitis, including bacterial cystitis, interstitial cystitis (generally known as painful bladder syndrome), and drug-induced cystitis. The most common form, bacterial cystitis, occurs when bacteria enter the urethra and travel up into the bladder, causing an infection.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Cystitis

Understanding the symptoms of cystitis can help you recognize when to seek medical advice. The symptoms can vary between individuals and the type of cystitis, but common signs include:

1. A Strong, Persistent Urge to Urinate

One of the first signs of cystitis is a frequent need to urinate. You might feel a strong, almost uncontrollable urge, even if your bladder isn’t full.

2. Painful Urination

Often described as a burning sensation, painful urination is a classic symptom of cystitis. This discomfort, known as dysuria, can range from mild to severe.

3. Cloudy or Strong-Smelling Urine

With cystitis, your urine might appear cloudy or darker than usual. It might also have a strong, unpleasant odor.

4. Lower Abdominal Discomfort

You might experience pain or pressure in your lower abdomen or lower back. This discomfort often accompanies the other symptoms of cystitis.

5. Blood in Urine

In some cases, you may notice a small amount of blood in your urine, a condition known as hematuria.

How to Get Rid of Cystitis

1. Medical Treatment

Cystitis caused by bacterial infections is typically treated with antibiotics,” explains Dr. Hapych. The type of antibiotic, as well as the length of treatment, can vary depending on the individual and the nature of the infection.

2. Pain Relief

Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage the discomfort associated with cystitis. However, these should not replace a consultation with a healthcare provider or a prescribed treatment regimen.

3. Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water can help dilute your urine and ensure that you urinate more frequently, flushing bacteria out of your bladder.

4. Avoid Irritants

Certain products, such as deodorant sprays, powders in the genital area, or bubble baths, can irritate the urethra and aggravate your symptoms. Try to avoid these while dealing with cystitis.

When to See a Doctor

It’s crucial to recognize when professional medical help is needed. According to Dr. Hapych, you should seek medical attention:

1. When Symptoms Persist or Worsen

If symptoms persist despite home remedies, or they worsen, it’s time to see a doctor,” advises Dr. Hapych. “Cystitis symptoms should improve within a few days of treatment. If they don’t, the infection may have spread to your kidneys, which is more serious.

2. If You Notice Blood in Your Urine

While blood in the urine can be a symptom of cystitis, it’s important to get this symptom checked out to rule out other conditions.

3. If You Are Pregnant and Experience Symptoms of Cystitis

Pregnant women with cystitis require immediate medical attention as the infection can potentially impact the health of the unborn baby.

4. If You Experience Frequent Episodes of Cystitis

“For those experiencing recurrent cystitis — three or more episodes a year — it’s essential to seek medical advice to understand the underlying causes and develop a preventative strategy,” says Dr. Hapych.

When to see a doctor about cystitis

Remember, it’s crucial to listen to your body,” says Dr. Hapych. “If you notice these symptoms or any changes in your urinary habits, seek medical attention promptly. Early treatment of cystitis can help prevent complications and relieve discomfort.”

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