Cystitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Cystitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

What exactly is Cystitis?

  • Urinary tract infection is the term for any sickness that affects the urinary tract. It is classified as a bladder infection when it affects the lower urinary tract (cystitis).
  • Bladder inflammation, or cystitis, is typically brought on by a bladder infection.
  • It is a frequent kind of urinary tract infection (UTI), especially in women, and typically only causes minor inconvenience rather than major health concerns. Mild instances frequently resolve on their own in a matter of days.
  • However, some patients have repeated cystitis episodes and may require ongoing or long-term treatment.
  • If your symptoms persist, you should consult a doctor since there's a potential that cystitis could, in some situations, develop into a more serious kidney infection.

How long ago was the disease seen?

  • The history of cystitis can be traced back to ancient times, with descriptions of symptoms and treatments dating as far back as the ancient Egyptian civilization. The Ebers Papyrus, a medical text from ancient Egypt, describes a treatment for frequent urination and painful urination that is thought to be related to cystitis.
  • In ancient Greece, Hippocrates and other physicians described symptoms of bladder inflammation and recommended treatments such as warm baths and herbal remedies. Galen, a prominent physician in ancient Rome, also wrote about cystitis, describing it as a condition that primarily affected women.
  • During the Middle Ages, medical knowledge about cystitis was limited, and treatments often involved the use of herbal remedies and dietary changes. It wasn't until the 19th century that significant advancements were made in the diagnosis and treatment of cystitis. The development of the microscope allowed for the identification of bacteria as the cause of many urinary tract infections, including cystitis.
  • In the early 20th century, antibiotics were discovered and became the primary treatment for bacterial infections, including cystitis. Today, cystitis is a well-known and well-studied condition, with numerous treatments available to manage symptoms and prevent complications. Ongoing research is also exploring new treatments and potential causes of cystitis.
  • Key epidemiological facts about cystitis
  • Women are more likely to develop cystitis than men, primarily due to differences in anatomy. The female urethra is shorter than the male urethra, making it easier for bacteria to enter the bladder.
  • Cystitis is most common in sexually active women, particularly those who use certain types of contraceptives such as diaphragms or spermicides.
  • Cystitis can occur at any age, but it is more common in older adults due to factors such as weakened immune systems or changes in the urinary tract.
  • The incidence of cystitis is difficult to estimate because many cases go unreported or are treated without a formal diagnosis. However, it is estimated that up to 60% of women will experience at least one episode of cystitis in their lifetime.
  • Recurrent cystitis is also common, with up to 20-30% of women experiencing multiple episodes per year.
  • In rare cases, cystitis can also affect men and children.
  • Factors that increase the risk of cystitis include certain medical conditions such as diabetes or kidney stones, recent urinary tract procedures or surgery, and the use of a catheter.
  • Cystitis is generally not considered a life-threatening condition, but in rare cases, it can lead to serious complications such as kidney infection or sepsis.

What kinds of cystitis exist?

  • There are several types of cystitis, each with its own unique causes and characteristics. Some of the most common types:
  1. Bacterial cystitis: This is the most common type of cystitis and is caused by a bacterial infection, usually Escherichia coli (E. coli). Bacterial cystitis can occur in people of any age or gender, but it is more common in women.
  2. Interstitial cystitis (IC): IC is a chronic condition that causes long-term inflammation of the bladder. The exact cause of IC is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to a problem with the lining of the bladder or an issue with the immune system. IC can cause pain, discomfort, and frequent urination, and it is more common in women.
  3. Radiation cystitis: This type of cystitis occurs as a side effect of radiation therapy for cancer. Radiation therapy can damage the lining of the bladder, leading to inflammation and other symptoms.
  4. Chemical cystitis: This type of cystitis is caused by exposure to certain chemicals or irritants, such as those found in certain types of soaps, bubble baths, or feminine hygiene products. Chemical cystitis can cause symptoms similar to those of bacterial cystitis.
  5. Drug-induced cystitis: Certain medications, such as cyclophosphamide or ifosfamide, can cause inflammation of the bladder, leading to cystitis.
  6. Hemorrhagic cystitis: This is a rare type of cystitis that causes blood to appear in the urine. It can be caused by a viral infection, radiation therapy, or certain medications.
  7. Neurogenic cystitis: This type of cystitis occurs in people with neurological conditions that affect the bladder, such as spinal cord injuries or multiple sclerosis. It can cause problems with bladder function and lead to inflammation and other symptoms.

It is important to consult a healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms of cystitis, as different types of cystitis may require different treatment approaches.

What factors give rise to cystitis?

  • Some common causes of cystitis include:
  1. Bacterial infection: The most common cause of cystitis is bacterial infection. The bacteria can enter the bladder through the urethra and cause an infection.
  • Bacteria responsible for this condition are:
    • Escherichia coli (most common)
    • Klebsiella
    • Proteus
    • Enterococcus
    • Staphylococcus saprophyticus.

However, E. coli is the most common cause of UTIs, accounting for up to 90% of all cases.

It is important to note that not all cases of cystitis are caused by bacteria, as certain viruses or fungi can also be responsible for the infection.

  1. Sexual activity: Sexual activity can increase the risk of cystitis in women because the bacteria in the genital area can be pushed into the urethra during intercourse.
  2. Menopause: The decreased levels of oestrogen after menopause can cause changes in the urinary tract that make women more susceptible to infections.
  3. Urinary tract abnormalities: Some people are born with abnormalities in their urinary tract which make them more susceptible to infections.
  4. Bladder catheterization: People who have a urinary catheter in place for a long period of time are at higher risk for developing cystitis.
  5. Use of certain contraceptives: Some women may experience cystitis as a side effect of using certain types of contraceptives, such as spermicidal agents or diaphragms.
  6. Immune system problems: People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those undergoing chemotherapy, are at higher risk for developing cystitis.
  7. Other underlying medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, kidney stones, or an enlarged prostate, can increase the risk of developing cystitis.

What is the pathogenesis of cystitis?

  • The pathogenesis of cystitis involves a series of events that occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and cause inflammation of the bladder lining. Here are the steps involved in the pathogenesis of cystitis:
  1. Entry of bacteria: The bacteria that cause cystitis usually enter the urinary tract through the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine out of the body.
  2. Attachment of bacteria: Once the bacteria enter the bladder, they attach to the lining of the bladder using hair-like structures called pili. The bacteria also produce toxins that damage the bladder lining.
  3. Activation of the immune response: The attachment of bacteria to the bladder lining triggers an immune response, which causes inflammation and swelling of the bladder lining.
  4. Symptoms: The inflammation and swelling of the bladder lining can cause a range of symptoms, including pain and discomfort in the lower abdomen, frequent urination, and a strong urge to urinate.
  5. Spread of infection: If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the urinary tract, such as the ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder) or the kidneys themselves, leading to more serious complications.
  6. Resolution: In most cases, cystitis resolves on its own with proper hydration and treatment with antibiotics. However, recurrent or chronic cystitis can lead to complications and may require further medical intervention.

When to see a doctor?

  • The signs and symptoms of cystitis can vary from person to person, but some common ones include:
  1. Painful urination: You may feel a burning sensation or discomfort when you urinate.
  2. Frequent urination: You may need to urinate more often than usual, even if you haven't had a lot of fluids.
  3. Urgency: You may feel a sudden and strong urge to urinate, even if your bladder isn't full.
  4. Cloudy or strong-smelling urine: Your urine may appear cloudy or have a strong smell.
  5. Lower abdominal pain or discomfort: You may experience mild to moderate pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen or pelvic area.
  6. Blood in urine: In some cases, cystitis can cause blood in the urine, which may be visible or only detected through laboratory tests.
  7. Fever: In more severe cases of cystitis, you may develop a fever, which is a sign of a more serious infection.

It's important to note that some people may not experience any symptoms of cystitis, especially if they have a mild case.

However, if you experience any of these symptoms or suspect that you have cystitis, it's important to see a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.

What are the methods for identifying cystitis?

  • Some common diagnostic methods used for cystitis:
  1. Medical history: Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and any medications you're taking.
  2. Physical examination: Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam, including a pelvic exam for women, to check for signs of inflammation or infection.
  3. Urine analysis: A urine sample will be collected and tested for the presence of bacteria, blood, and other signs of infection or inflammation.
  4. Urine culture: If bacteria are found in the urine, a urine culture may be done to determine the type of bacteria causing the infection and the most effective antibiotic treatment.
  5. Imaging tests: In some cases, imaging tests, such as ultrasound or CT scan, may be ordered to check for any abnormalities or complications in the urinary tract.
  6. Cystoscopy: In some cases, a cystoscopy may be done to examine the inside of the bladder using a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end.

The diagnosis of cystitis is usually straightforward based on the symptoms and results of urine tests. If the infection is recurrent or doesn't respond to treatment, further tests may be necessary to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

Cystitis can be treated - let us show you how.

  • Common treatments for cystitis:
  1. Antibiotics: Your healthcare provider will prescribe antibiotics based on the type of bacteria causing the infection and the antibiotics for a few days to a week.
  2. Pain relievers: Ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help relieve pain and discomfort.
  3. Hydration: Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water can help flush out bacteria and reduce symptoms.
  4. Urinary analgesics: Your healthcare provider may prescribe a urinary analgesic, such as phenazopyridine, to relieve pain and discomfort during urination.
  5. Prevention: To prevent future episodes of cystitis, your healthcare provider may recommend drinking plenty of water, urinating frequently, and practicing good hygiene habits, such as wiping front to back after using the bathroom and avoiding douching or using irritating products in the genital area.

It's important to complete the full course of antibiotics prescribed by your healthcare provider, even if your symptoms improve before the medication is finished.

Get relief from the discomfort of cystitis with the right approach.

How long will cystitis last?

  • The prognosis for cystitis is generally good, and symptoms can often be relieved with appropriate treatment.
  • The duration of cystitis can vary, but most cases will resolve within a few days to a week with appropriate treatment.
  • Recurrent cystitis may require further evaluation to identify underlying causes and develop an appropriate management plan.

Cystitis may be common, but it’s not unbeatable.

What if left untreated?

If left untreated, cystitis can lead to more serious complications, such as

  • Pyelonephritis (infection of the kidneys)
  • Sepsis (a life-threatening infection of the bloodstream).

However, these complications are rare in otherwise healthy individuals.

Cystitis doesn't have to be a constant annoyance. say goodbye to the burning pain of cystitis.