What is Cystitis?

Cystitis refers to an inflammation of the bladder. It is quite painful for anyone who has experienced it. Cystitis can be caused by a bacteria or a chronic condition.

Cystitis occurs in the bladder. When it is caused by bacteria, it is referred to more commonly as a urinary tract infection. The bacteria are usually introduced into the body through the urethra, the opening from the bladder to the outside of the body. In women, there is such a short distance between the bladder and the outside that it is easy for an infection to begin and then migrate there.

Cystitis can also be caused by products used on your body that cause a reaction and irritation. This could be perfume soaps, birth control methods like spermicidal jellies, side effects of radiation therapy or using a bladder catheter for an extensive period of time.

Interstitial cystitis is not caused by a bacterium but is instead an inflammation of the bladder wall. The wall of the bladder sustains repeated irritation and scarring, leaving it slightly stiff. A stiff bladder has trouble contracting. The condition is painful. Those with interstitial cystitis often complain of symptoms similar to bacterial bladder infections except that no bacteria are present.

Symptoms of cystitis are easy to spot in teens and adults. When urinating, there is a burning or stinging sensation. The sudden and urgent need to urinate only produces small streams of urine because the bladder is not full. Blood may be passed in the urine in some cases.

Fever is not uncommon with cystitis. Also accompanying the fever is pain in the abdominal region and pressure in the pelvis. Urine may smell foul when it is passed.

Bacterial cystitis is usually caused by E. coli. E. coli is found in the digestive tract, specifically in the intestines. It can be introduced into the urethra since it is a short distance away from the anal opening. Sexual intercourse can also be a cause of bacterial cystitis. Some bladder infections are nosocomial, meaning that they were acquired during a hospital stay or time spent in a nursing home.

The common treatment for any bacterial infection is antibiotics. The length of treatment is determined by how early the cystitis was caught. In some cases, a reoccurring bladder infection may be caused by strains of E. coli that are resistant to normal antibiotic treatments.

For interstitial cystitis, treatment may include drugs or surgery. Medications can help with the problem of stiffness in the bladder and/or pain in the pelvis. For serious cases, medication can be directly instilled into the bladder using a urethral catheter.

Cystitis doesn’t have to be caused by bacteria but that is the most common form. Treating cystitis is similar to treating a urinary tract infection. If left untreated, kidney infections can develop.