When your bladder is inflamed, this is termed cystitis. Cystitis usually develops as a result of a bladder infection. These infections have several causes, though cystitis is more common in women than men. Although the symptoms of cystitis are uncomfortable, the condition is treatable and it is possible to take measures to prevent further episodes. However, recurrent cystitis should always be investigated.
If you are unsure of the symptoms associated with inflammation of your bladder, they are as follows:
If you fail to empty your bladder fully, this allows bacteria to multiply in your bladder. Women are most likely to have this problem when pregnant, though in men this may occur if there if your prostate is enlarged or you have a tumour. However, owing to women's anatomy, they are also more prone to bacteria entering their bladder. This can occur as a result of wiping after using the toilet, sex, using tampons or using a contraceptive diaphragm. Alternatively, in both men and women, if the urethra which carries urine out of the body is damaged or irritated, this can trigger cystitis as well. Common causes of irritation include sex, perfumed soap, using a catheter, or having another urinary problem or diabetes. It is important to empty the bladder regularly and drink plenty of water to prevent recurrent cystitis.
It is always important to ensure that cystitis is correctly diagnosed, and medical advice should be sought about any possible cystitis infection. Women with recurrent infection or symptoms of cystitis around menopause need investigations to rule out other causes, and men should always consult a doctor or its symptoms can have a more serious underlying cause. It is also essential that you immediately report any occurrence of visible blood in the urine in case of a serious underlying cause, for which urgent investigations may be necessary. Based on your symptoms and the results of a urine test, it is possible to diagnose cystitis, though in certain circumstances a urine culture test is also necessary to identify the bacteria in question to allow the correct prescription of antibiotics. However, if you fail to respond to treatment or you have frequent episodes of cystitis, you may need an ultrasound scan, x-ray or cystoscopy for further investigation. A cystoscopy uses a tiny camera to check the inside of your bladder.
Whether or not you receive a prescription of antibiotics, there are certain steps you can take to provide symptom relief. You can take over-the-counter painkillers to help you cope with the discomfort and you may find that using an alkalising agent like sodium bicarbonate will reduce the pain when you urinate. You may also find that drinking plenty of fluids helps and ideally you should avoid sex, as this can make cystitis worse. If you are prescribed antibiotics, it is important to take these exactly as directed. This makes sure that the infection completely clears up and prevents the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Although you can't always prevent further outbreaks of cystitis, you can reduce the likelihood of bladder inflammation by trying the following:
Even though drinking cranberry juice is often advocated to treat or prevent cystitis, there isn't scientific evidence to support this. You will not, however, prevent further episodes of bladder if an underlying cause remains untreated. For instance, men with an inflamed or enlarged prostate will continue to experience cystitis despite carrying out the recommendations above. This is why men should always seek medical advice if they have a suspected case of cystitis. To help you find out the cause of your cystitis, or have had blood in the urine, make an appointment with Mr Mark Feneley today.
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