Cystitis is a urinary tract infection caused by bacteria from the bowel travelling to the urethra (a tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body) resulting in infection and inflammation of the bladder. The condition is more common in women than men and will affect approximately half of all women at least once in their life. This is because women have a shorter urethra which opens closer to the back passage making infection more likely.
There are a variety of factors that can trigger a bladder infection leading to cystitis. Poor hygiene, sexual activity, inadequate bladder emptying or having a catheter are all actions things which could increase the likelihood of developing this infection. Pregnancy, diabetes, menopause, kidney or bladder stones and abnormalities of the urinary tract can also cause the occurrence of cystitis.
Adult symptoms of cystitis generally include the need to urinate more frequently or suddenly, pain in the lower abdomen and back, mild fever, feeling tired or weak, and pain during intercourse. For people with this condition, urinating is painful with a stinging or burning sensation, and there may only be small amounts of urine passed or none at all (/if any at all). Urine passed when suffering from cystitis will typically be dark, cloudy or strong-smelling, and there may be traces of blood that are not visible.
Cystitis usually clears within 2 – 3 days, however if symptoms last longer it is advised to consult a GP for antibiotic treatment. Trimethoprim and Nitrofurantoin, which prevent the growth of bacteria, are the most common antibiotics used to treat cystitis. Both medicines are taken twice daily for 3 days and reduce the duration of symptoms. Dr Felix offers an online cystitis consultation where you can order Trimethoprim or Nitrofurantoin on prescription and delivered to your home.
Side effects of Trimethoprim include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, upset stomach, headache, loss of appetite. Although more serious side effects may rarely occur, they usually disappear as the body adjusts to the medication. Trimethoprim cannot be used during pregnancy, and in those suffering from a blood disorder or kidney disease should consult their doctor before use.
Nitrofurantoin side effects include headache, dizziness, upset stomach, mild diarrhoea, feeling dizzy or sleepy, vaginal itching or discomfort. Difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of the lips, tongue throat or face are all signs of an allergic reaction to Nitrofurantoin which requires emergency medical attention. This medication should not be used in the final weeks of pregnancy.