Cystitis is a bladder infection that is extremely common, mainly amongst women. In some cases it can be recurring and occur multiple times a year, or it can simply happen sporadically. It tends to be most common in women who are sexually active. It can be caused by many different factors that result in damage or introduction of bacteria to the urinary tract.
Cystitis isn't normally dangerous, but if the infection spreads it can cause a kidney infection. It may also be a sign of something else more serious which is why you should go to your doctor if you experience recurring outbreaks (more than three a year) or if you have intense pain.
If you are a women you should visit your doctor the first time you experience an infection, and you should revisit your doctor if you experience more than three outbreaks a year. As cystitis is rarer in children and men, it's advised that you should visit a GP every time symptoms occur.
Yes, both men and women can experience the condition, although it might be a sign of a more serious underlying problem if it occurs in men including prostatitis, an enlarged prostate or a tumour.
Cystitis has been connected with an increase in sexual activity, which could be because of the introduction of new bacteria to the urinary tract or simply due to damage or bruising caused by engaging in vigorous sexual activity.
Cystitis can go away without treatment within four to nine days; however treatment may help to alleviate symptoms or can significantly reduce recovery time. It is however important to bear in mind that untreated cystitis could lead to a more serious and painful kidney infection.
It's possible that cystitis could be a symptom of something more serious, such as prostatitis (men), kidney infections, diabetes or a sexually transmitted infection. Your doctor may choose to run a few tests to illuminate the possibility of any of the above.
Symptomatic treatment for cystitis could involve the use of ibuprofen or paracetamol to help provide relief just until the infection has cleared up. You may also be able to use over-the-counter cranberry products to enhance urinary tract health; however they have not been proven to target the infection directly. In cases where an infection is extremely uncomfortable or won't go away, an antibiotic like Trimethoprim may be prescribed to provide much needed relief in as little as 24 hours, as it affects the actual bacteria causing the infection.
In general it's important to drink a lot of water to ensure that you keep your body healthy, however there is no clear indication that it specifically helps for cystitis. However, avoiding alcohol and taking in plenty of water could be beneficial. Similarly, there has not been enough evidence that cranberry juice products are able to treat cystitis, but they may be able to help prevent future infections.
In general cystitis can be avoided quite easily by ensuring that you avoid triggers. This could mean not wearing tight clothing, only wearing cotton pants, avoiding the use of perfumed feminine hygiene products and ensuring that you empty your bladder completely when you urinate. Also ensure that you wash your hands and genitals before and after sex and empty your bladder soon afterwards to avoid any bacteria remaining in the bladder.