Cystitis is an inflammation of the urinary bladder (Vesica urinaria) and is therefore also known as cystitis or simply cystitis. The disease belongs to the group of urinary tract infections, which include inflammation of the ureters and kidneys.
Women are most often affected by cystitis. Her urethra is very short compared to the male, which facilitates the entry of pathogens into the bladder. Properly treated is a bladder infection in most cases of short duration.
What are the causes of cystitis?
Cystitis is usually caused by bacteria, more rarely by fungi or viruses. The most common pathogens include intestinal bacteria such as the Escherichia coli bacteria, which are a normal component of the intestinal flora.
Normally, the bladder is free from pathogens. In cystitis, however, germs migrate through the urethra into the bladder and multiply there. The penetration of bacteria by cold and wet is favored, for example in the swimming pool when wearing wet bathing suits - one has "cooled down".
Immunocompromised people, for example, by the sugar metabolism diabetes mellitus, are particularly susceptible to urinary tract infections. If there is a urinary retention, ie a drainage of urine, which collects in the urinary tract, this is the optimal environment for the urinary tract germs. This mainly affects older men with an enlarged prostate gland.
Bladder catheters, which are often used in hospitals, are a possible cause of cystitis.
Women affected more often
That especially women are affected by cystitis is related to their short urethra. As a result of the anatomical proximity of the urethra to the anus and vagina, pathogens can quickly enter the bladder, for example during the toilet.
Another common cause of cystitis in women is mucosal injury and mechanical irritation of the genital area during sexual intercourse. By the simultaneous change of the vaginal milieu during the coitus, pathogens of the vagina can multiply on the pre-damaged mucous membrane and get into the bladder more easily. In addition, sexual intercourse can also lead to a smear infection from the anal to the genital region. This is also referred to as "honeymoon disease" (honeymoon disease).
Even during pregnancy and menopause, the risk of bladder infection is increased, as changes in the hormone changes the pH in the vagina and dilate the urinary tract during pregnancy.
Symptoms of cystitis
Cystitis causes pain and burning sensation when urinating. The pain can radiate throughout the lower abdomen. Frequent urination with small amounts of urine is also typical. In addition, a foul-smelling discharge may be added and the urine may take on a cloudy color.
For more severe urinary tract infections, the body reacts with fever, chills and a general feeling of illness.
If the pathogens rise from the bladder via the ureter to the kidney region, painful pyelonephritis can develop. This is noticeable by signs such as severe flank pain with spasm of the back muscles and sometimes also blood in the urine. In that case you should consult a doctor.
What to do in case of acute cystitis?
For the treatment of cystitis, some general measures are often suitable:
- You should drink a lot to flush out the germs from the urinary tract. For an otherwise healthy adult, a daily intake of at least two liters is recommended.
- Cranberry juice should help especially well.
- Also many bladder and kidney teas show due to the herbs contained in a good effectiveness: Bearberry leaves, birch leaves, nettle leaves and horsetail have been used for centuries against the symptoms of cystitis.
- Heat from the outside, for example through a cherry stone bag or a simple hot water bottle, also does the stomach well and relaxes the muscles.
Normally, a bladder infection should be over after a few days with the help of these simple home remedies. If you can not get the symptoms under control in this way, you should contact a doctor who can prescribe appropriate medication.
Medical tests for suspected cystitis
In most cases, a doctor can diagnose cystitis through a few specific questions and the clinical examination. It is also possible to detect a urinary tract infection by means of a urine and possibly a blood test.
A quick but not 100 percent reliable test for cystitis is the streak test. A test strip is dipped into a urine sample. On the basis of the test fields on the strip and the evaluation of the respective color change, the doctor receives relatively quickly indications of an inflammation of the urinary tract and blood, sugar molecules or bile pigments in the urine. Safer are urine cultures, on the result of which you have to wait but usually a few days.
A blood sample is used to determine the number of white blood cells and other inflammatory values. To directly examine the kidneys and bladder, the doctor can also perform an ultrasound.
Therapy of acute cystitis
If the described general measures did not help, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. There are preparations that need to be taken several days a day for several days or others that are given as a single dose in a high dose. If there is a suspicion of fungus-induced cystitis, antifungals (antifungals) may be administered.
In addition to the antibiotic painkillers may also be necessary.
In addition, there are also many homeopathic and herbal remedies to help with symptoms of cystitis. Talk to your doctor about which medicine is suitable for you.
If there is a suspicion of complicated cystitis, further diagnostic and therapeutic measures must be taken.
The complicated cystitis
A complicated bladder infection is called, if in addition to the urinary tract infection specific diseases, malformations or risk factors are present. Especially in pregnant women, children and men complicated courses are more common, as they usually do not develop cystitis, or because they are particularly at risk.
Local inflammation of the bladder can in rare cases lead to blood poisoning (urosepsis). This is especially the case with older and immunocompromised patients. A functional disorder of the kidneys to their complete failure is possible in an advanced, complicated urinary tract infection.
Take special care with pregnant women. You have an increased risk of premature birth or miscarriage. For symptoms of urinary tract infection, pregnant women should consult a doctor
Another problem is the increased occurrence of urinary tract infections. Often one falls ill one after the other again at a cystitis. Most of the time, only antibiotic therapy will help - a visit to a doctor is therefore recommended.
How to prevent cystitis?
Some hygiene measures can reduce the risk of cystitis. For example, due to the anatomical proximity of the anus and urethra, and the consequent risk of intestinal germ distribution, women should look for a wiping direction away from the urethra and vagina after bowel movements.
Prompt urination after intercourse also prevents the spread of bacteria. However, exaggerated genital hygiene, for example through the use of intimate lotions, sprays and douching, is to be discouraged as it disturbs the natural bacterial flora and favors infections.
If you are prone to bladder infections, you should take special care to keep the kidney and bladder area warm in winter. Thus, the classic "cold" can be prevented. Even warm feet are important. In summer, it is advisable to change after bathing the wet bathing suits.
And finally, at the first sign of a bladder infection, for example, a slight burning sensation when urinating, you should immediately drink a lot. This allows you to rinse the germs frequently before they multiply.
10 facts about cystitis
Below we have summarized the most important facts about cystitis for you:
- Women are more likely to become ill than men because of their anatomy.
- Burning while urinating is the central symptom.
- The most important measure against cystitis is to drink a lot and thus flush the bladder.
- Herbal teas and cranberry juice seem to be the most effective.
- Local heat relieves the discomfort.
- Signs of severe cystitis are blood in the urine, a strong feeling of illness or flank pain.
- Prone to complicated cystitis are children, pregnant women and the elderly over 60 years.
- In case of prolonged cystitis, an antibiotic can be taken.
- Preventive measures include adequate hydration, adequate genital hygiene and prompt urination after sexual intercourse.
- Rapid recurrent urinary tract infections are common.