What Is Cystitis?

Cystitis is a type of urinary tract infection that affects the bladder. It is one of the most common infections of the bladder, and is more frequently experienced by women than men. The infection is caused by bacteria that enter and infect the bladder, usually through the urethra.

Symptoms of cystitis may include a frequent and urgent need to urinate, burning or pain when urinating, and lower abdominal pain. In some cases, the urine may also look cloudy or contain visible traces of blood. Treatment for cystitis usually involves antibiotics and drinking lots of fluids.

Risk Factors for Cystitis

Anyone can develop cystitis, but certain factors do increase the risk of the infection. Women that are pregnant, have diabetes, or take oral contraceptives have an increased risk of developing cystitis. Other factors that may contribute to an increased risk of infection include:

  • Having intercourse
  • Using a diaphragm as a form of birth control
  • Using lubricants during intercourse
  • Using an uncircumcised penis
  • Using a urinary catheter
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Having a preexisting urinary tract infection

Diagnosis and Treatment of Cystitis

Cystitis can be diagnosed by a doctor through a physical examination, urinalysis, or a urine culture. Depending on the severity of the infection, treatment may involve antibiotics, a hospital stay, or IV antibiotics if the infection is particularly severe. For milder cases, drinking plenty of fluids and taking a course of antibiotics is usually sufficient.

In addition to medical treatment, there are also some lifestyle changes that can help alleviate the symptoms of cystitis. These include drinking more fluids, avoiding coffee and soft drinks with caffeine, avoiding perfumes and dyes in soaps, wearing 100% cotton underwear, and avoiding any sexual activities that may irritate the urethra.

Preventing Cystitis

Although anyone can develop cystitis, there are a few steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing the infection. These include drinking plenty of fluids, urinating before and after sexual activities, wiping from front to back after using the bathroom, avoiding the use of artificially scented or dyed products, and urinating immediately after intercourse.