Cystitis is the medical term for a bladder infection. In most cases, cystitis is the result of foreign bacteria in the bladder. The most frequently experienced bladder infection symptoms are pain or burning while urinating and a constant need to urinate. It is possible for a physician to diagnose cystitis based only on the patient’s symptoms. However, the vast majority of doctors will also recommend a urinalysis before making a definitive diagnosis. Medication is needed to cure the infection as well as treat the bladder infection symptoms.
Causes of Cystitis in Women Bladder infections are not uncommon in women, especially throughout the reproductive years and certain women have chronic bladder infections. There are several reasons women are especially susceptible to cystitis, such as the short length of the female urethra and the closeness of the urethra to areas where bacteria is frequently found, such as the anus and the vagina. Sexual intercourse can also be a contributing factor as the motion provides an avenue through which bacteria can reach the urethra and ultimately ascend to the bladder. Expectant mothers are particularly susceptible to bladder infections, as pregnancy frequently interferes with a woman’s ability to empty her bladder.
If a pregnant woman is experiencing bladder infection symptoms she should seek a doctor’s advice as soon as possible. Those who use diaphragms are also at an increased risk of developing cystitis. This may be due to the fact that the spermicide used with the device suppresses the vagina’s normal bacteria, allowing infection causing bacteria to flourish. As a woman approaches menopause and the production of estrogen decreases, the walls of the vulvar tissues and vaginal tissues around the urethra become thinner atrophic urethritis and atrophic vaginitis which can predispose a woman to recurring bladder infections.
Additionally, a dropped prolapsed bladder or uterus may cause insufficient emptying of the bladder, which also encourages cystitis. A prolapsed bladder or uterus is more common in women who have experienced multiple child births. In rare cases, cystitis occurs due to an abnormal connection between the vagina and bladder vesicovaginal fistula. Causes of Cystitis in Men Generally speaking, one will rarely hear men complaining of bladder infection symptoms, as the condition is seen much less often in men than in women.
Typically, cystitis in men begins with an infection of the urethra that migrates to the prostate and on to the bladder. The most common source of chronic cystitis in men is a continuous bacterial infection of the prostate prostratitis. Men must typically take antibiotics for a significantly longer duration than women in order to eliminate their bladder infection symptoms completely. While the antibiotics will quickly eliminate the bacteria from the urine, they cannot cure an infection in the prostrate in the same timely manner. Therefore, in such cases, antibiotics must be taken for several weeks in order to completely clear the infection.
It is for this reason medications should be taken exactly as directed and not stopped prematurely. Additional Considerations There are several reasons for bladder infection symptoms that are associated with both genders. For example, if one’s urine flow becomes partially obstructed due to a stone in the urethra or bladder, or a stricture in the urethra, the person’s urinary system is less likely to flush out harmful bacteria that are lodged in the urinary tract. Such bacteria typically multiply rapidly, resulting in a higher chance for infection. Those with chronic obstruction of urine flow are at risk of developing bladder diverticulum outpouching.
This pouch retains urine after one has voided, creating an even higher risk of infection. Any instrument inserted into the urethra, such as a catheter, is an avenue through which bacteria can be transported to the bladder, resulting in cystitis. In women and men, an abnormal connection between the intestine and bladder vesicoenteric fistula can occur, which allows fecal matter to pass to the bladder and cause cystitis. In certain cases, a person may experience bladder infection symptoms when no actual infection is present and this type of inflammation is called interstitial cystitis.
Bladder Infection Symptoms Cystitis typically produces an urgent need to urinate on a continuing basis and urinating can be quite painful. Bladder infection symptoms also include an unpleasant burning sensation when urinating. Such symptoms may take several hours up to a full day to manifest. At times, the urgency results in incontinence the uncontrollable loss of urine particularly in the elderly. Bladder infection symptoms rarely include fever. Pain is almost always felt in the lower back and above the pubic bone. Nocturia frequent urination during the night is also a symptom of cystitis. Those experiencing bladder infection symptoms may notice their urine frequently appears cloudy and approximately one third of those with cystitis may experience visible blood in their urine.
If the cystitis is a result of an abnormal connection between the vagina and the intestine, air may be passed with the urine, a condition referred to as pneumaturia. It is possible for bladder infection symptoms to disappear without treatment and cystitis can even be asymptomatic no overt symptoms especially in the elderly. If the latter is the case, the presence of infection is sometimes discovered when urine tests are administered for other reasons. A person with a neurogenic bladder a bladder that malfunctions due to nerve damage or a person who has a permanent catheter in place may have undiagnosed cystitis until an unexplained fever or kidney infection develops. Diagnosis Physicians can typically diagnose cystitis based on the symptoms with which the patient presents, but a urinalysis is usually still performed.
A midstream urine specimen is collected in order to ensure the urine does not come in contact with bacteria from the tip of the penis or vagina. A strip of test paper is then used to perform two quick tests for abnormalities. The testing strips usually detect nitrites and leukocyte esterase, which may indicate that the body is battling cystitis. Many times, these are the only tests necessary in adult women. Sometimes the specimen is placed under a microscope to examine the type of cells or other substances it contains. The bacteria are evaluated and usually one type of bacteria is present in high levels. A midstream urine specimen is generally sufficient for a man’s urine culture.
However, with female patients, a specimen has a greater risk of being contaminated with bacteria from the vulva or vagina. If only small numbers of bacteria are contained in the urine, or multiple bacteria types are present, contamination during the collection process has probably occurred. To avoid this scenario, some physicians acquire a specimen through the use of a catheter. Determining the Cause It is essential for physicians to discover the cause of bladder infections in specific groups. These include children, men of any age, and women who experience three or more bladder infections a year, especially if the cystitis is accompanied by obstruction symptoms, Proteus bacteriaan infection, or an upper urinary tract infection.
In these specific groups, there is a greater likelihood of discovering a cause, such as a large kidney stone, that would require specific treatment in addition to standard medicines. A physician or urologist may order an x-ray series in which a radiopaque dye is injected into a vein, then passed to the urine by the kidneys. This procedure is called intravenous urogram IVU. When the procedure is complete, the images of the kidneys, ureters, and bladder can be viewed on the x-ray films. Computed tomography or ultrasonography may be performed in lieu of IVU. The diagnostic team may also conduct a procedure called cystourethrography. This procedure involves the injection a radiopaque dye into the bladder which is filmed upon exit in order to evaluate the reflux backflow of urine from the bladder as it travels to the ureters.
This option is especially helpful when diagnosing children and may also indicate if any stricture narrowing of the urethra has occurred. Retrograde urethrography is a procedure where radiopaque dye is directly injected into the urethra in order to detect abnormal connections, outpouching, or strictures in both male and female patients. If cystitis does not improve with treatment a doctor may look directly into the bladder with a cystoscopy flexible viewing tube. Prevention Those experiencing frequent bladder infections must sometimes take low doses of antibiotics on a continuing basis. The antibiotic may be taken daily, weekly, or immediately following sexual intercourse. Postmenopausal women with chronic cystitis and atrophic urethritis or atrophic vaginitis may benefit from estrogen creams applied externally or estrogen inserts.
Staying adequately hydrated may prevent cystitis as the flushing action of the urine may eliminate bacteria from the bladder. It is frequently stated that wiping from front to back after urination, urinating immediately after engaging in sexual activity, and avoiding nonporous, tight underwear can be helpful in the prevention of bladder infections in women. However, no concrete proof exists concerning the effectiveness of such strategies. Treating Bladder Infection Symptoms Antibiotics are the standard treatment for cystitis. However, prior to prescribing antibiotics, the physician determines whether the patient has one or more underlying health conditions that could make the cystitis more severe, such as a weakened immune system, structural abnormality, or diabetes.
More powerful antibiotics may be needed for those with such conditions and they may need to be taken for a longer duration. For women, three days of oral antibiotics are typically all that is necessary and some physicians may even prescribe a single dose. For aggressive infections antibiotics are generally taken for seven to ten days. Bladder infections in men are usually the result of prostatitis and several weeks of antibiotic treatment is typically required. Numerous drugs can relieve bladder infection symptoms.
Medications which contain anticholinergics such as andtolterodine and oxybutynin may relieve the bladder spasms that create urinary urgency. However, such medications must be used with caution in men with prostate gland enlargement as urinary retention may occur. Additional medications, such as phenazopyridine lessen painful symptoms by soothing the inflamed tissues. In some cases, surgery is required to correct a structural abnormality or eliminate physical obstruction to the flow of urine. Prior to surgery, the use of a catheter helps control the infection. An antibiotic is typically given before surgery to lessen the risk of the infection.