Recurrent cystitis is a bladder infection that’s more commonly experienced by women than men. The main symptoms include recurring pain when urinating and the constant urge to visit the bathroom.
A bacterial infection is the leading cause of this condition and is more common in women over 30, but it can still occur in women over 50.
There is no specific cause for the chronic infection, hence the reason it is difficult to treat. However, regardless of whether it is chronic or acute, cystitis happens when E. coli bacteria migrate from the bowel into the bladder where it multiplies and causes an infection.
When women wipe their bottom the wrong way (from back to front), they encourage the bacteria to move closer to the urethra. It is easy for an infection to start in a clean environment such as the bladder. However, this isn’t the only reason an infection occurs. It may be due to a pre-existing condition such as diabetes or kidney stones.
Generally, women who suffer from congenital abnormalities are more likely to experience severe cystitis.
The vaginal area’s natural acidity is supposed to prevent bacteria from multiplying. However, if the immune system is weakened, germs can thrive and enter the bladder area.
Apart from a weak immune system, cystitis may also occur as a reaction to certain medications, body sprays, or tampons.
The risk factors of recurrent bladder infections include kidney stones, diabetes, abnormalities in the urinary tract, and urological surgeries.
Recurrent bladder infections affect 5 per cent of women who seek medical help for this condition every year. About 1 in 5 will get a re-infection, mostly due to lack of hygiene or through sex. As the woman gets older, the risk of chronic bladder infection increases.
Bladder infections usually occur in women, but men can get them too. The obvious signs and symptoms in men include frequent visits to the bathroom, burning sensation during or after urination, fever, cloudy urine with a strong odour, and the urge to urinate.
If a man is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is worth getting his prostate checked out as bladder infection can be linked to enlarged prostate or BPH.
The most common type of treatment for chronic bladder infections is antibiotics, such as Nitrofurantoin or Trimethoprim. The family GP will ask the patient to take a urine test before prescribing the most suitable antibiotics. The course of medication is usually five days or so. In some cases, doctors prescribe long-term antibiotic treatment at a lower dose to prevent the infection from recurring. Some patients need to take these antibiotics from 6 months to 2 years.
Although there is no evidence that lifestyle changes can actually help prevent recurrent cystitis, there are still some precautions that people can take to avoid chronic bladder infections. Doctors have always been advising patients to drink lots of water to flush out the germs. Cranberry juice, in particular, is an effective remedy for cleaning the bladder and eliminating germs. Another tip to avoid cystitis is to wipe from front to back and wear cotton underwear.
There are also some techniques that you can try to avoid triggers. Some of these include: retraining your bladder to hold urine for longer, reducing stress by reading a book or trying a meditation technique such as yoga or Pilates, wearing loose clothing and avoiding leggings or tights, doing low-impact exercises such as walking or stretching, making changes to what you eat by cutting out processed foods, keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum, and finally if you are a smoker, quit immediately.
If none of the above tips help ease your symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor and seek treatment for cystitis. At Dr Felix, we can assess your condition and prescribe the appropriate medication online.