What is Cystitis and how to deal with it
Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog. In this week’s health article, I’ll be talking about a health problem that we all know (and hate) – Cystitis. Whilst this condition can affect both men and women, I’ll be talking mostly about the ladies as they’re where I’ve focused most of my research. But guys, that doesn’t let you off the hook – if your partner has fallen ill with a UTI, you can take a few minutes out of your day to read this as well and see how to help her out – she’ll really appreciate it!
On average, due to the physiological differences in our bodies, half of all women are likely to experience Cystitis during their lifetime, with younger girls being more likely to suffer with the condition. We’ve got shorter urethras than men do, and that puts us at a much greater risk of infection, since bacteria don’t need very much time to reach our bladders.
In this article, I’ll tell you about the most common types of Cystitis and how to deal with them promptly. I’ll also go over some of its symptoms and possible causes to help you avoid any complications in the future. Keep reading till the end, because I’ll also be sharing the method my friends found most useful in counteracting Cystitis.
Why is Cystitis so painful? Lifting the curtain on Urinary Tract Infections
Let’s start with the basics. Cystitis (also referred to as bladder infections, and urinary tract infections or UTIs) is a common inflammatory condition in the bladder, most often caused by infection. And while it isn’t all that dangerous at first, if not immediately treated it can become a source of pain, further irritation and woe. Ignoring Cystitis until it goes away isn’t an option either. If left unchecked, the bacteria, causing it can easily spread throughout your urinary tract, putting you at the potential risk of kidney infections and other health problems. On the bright side (if you can even call it that) the symptoms of Cystitis are quite obvious and hard to ignore, so you can quickly begin treatment and deal with it before it becomes really serious.
Why we get Cystitis? – Urinary Tract Infections and why we get them
Unfortunately, even with all our medicinal advances, Cystitis is still quite common, making it especially annoying for people prone to infections or those with weakened immune systems due to other health conditions. Cystitis also tends to thrive in the UK’s mild climate conditions.
There are two types of Cystitis – bacterial and non-infectious.
Bacterial Infections are the number one cause of Cystitis. More than eighty percent of Cystitis cases are due to a bacterium going by the name of Escherichia coli (or E. coli), which usually resides within the bowel. Should it find its way into the urinary tract, however, this bacterium can create a whole host of problems. Here’s a list of the most common triggers of bacterial Cystitis:
- Changing weather
- Sitting on cold grass or surfaces
- Urinary stones
Non-infectious Cystitis can be caused by a variety of other health conditions and issues related to the bladder. A few examples are:
- Interstitial Cystitis is perhaps one of the most enigmatic bladder conditions of our day, and its cause is still unclear. Difficult to diagnose and treat, this condition affects women predominantly.
- Drug-induced Cystitis – A lot of medications, particularly the ones used in chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide and ifosfamide) are known to cause bladder inflammation.
- Radiation Cystitis – Radiation treatments, especially when aimed at the pelvic area can cause bladder inflammation.
- Foreign-body Cystitis – Use of catheters and other foreign bodies can leave your system vulnerable to infections and prone to tissue damage, causing inflammation.
- Chemical Cystitis – Chemical hypersensitivity is yet another big factor in non-bacterial Cystitis cases, with feminine hygiene sprays and cosmetics being the main culprit
- Cystitis associated with other conditions – Things like kidney stones, diabetes, or even spinal cord injuries can also lead to developing Cystitis
For most people, Cystitis will cause one (or often several) of the following issues:
- The need to frequently visit the ladies’ room
- A really annoying, burning sensation during urination
- Difficulty passing urine
- Strong smelling and possibly cloudy urine
- Pressure in the lower abdominal area
- Discomfort in the pelvic region
- A low fever
- Traces of blood in the urine
If at any time you happen to identify a couple of these symptoms together, I’d advise you to get in touch with your doctor immediately.
It’s also possible for women to develop some of the symptoms without any apparent cause. Sometimes, the infection can avoid detection by the standard tests, or, in a minuscule number of cases, this can be due to a different, more severe condition, called interstitial Cystitis or painful bladder.
In young children, Cystitis can also bring about the loss of bladder control and cause irritability and loss of appetite. If you suspect your child has Cystitis, you should immediately get in touch with your GP, as it can be also be a symptom of other more severe health conditions. In children, especially those younger than two years, Cystitis is often a sign of a problem in the bladder, ureter or kidneys.
While the treatment methods you’ll find later in this article do work, you should *always* consult a medical professional before beginning treatment on your own. As I often like to point out in my posts – better safe than sorry! Gambling with your health and wellbeing is never an option.
Dealing with Infections of the Urinary Tract – Let’s talk solutions
Now we know what UTIs are and what causes them, let’s talk solutions. I’ll give you a list of simple, tried and tested remedies and lifestyle changes, that can help you deal with Cystitis once and for all. Keep reading until the end to see my personal favourite!
- Drink more water – Drinking plenty of fluids is essential for the wellbeing of your urinary tract. Shocker, I know. Not only is water helpful (and necessary) for the proper functioning of your body, it’ll also help you expel the bacteria faster. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits the drinking water, I’ve got just the thing for you!
- Watch your Sugar Intake – Bacteria can feed off sugar and if you’re can’t seem to let go of your cookie cravings, you’re allowing it to torment you for much longer. I know avoiding sugar completely can be very difficult, but limiting your consumption should be quite achievable.
- Eat water-dense foods – I’m mostly talking about fruits and veggies here. Things like watermelons and cucumbers will be very helpful in flushing the bacteria out of your system. That said, you should try your best to:
- Stay away from citric fruits – Citric acid can irritate the stomach lining, which is the last thing that you’d want when you have a UTI.
- Eat more Leafy Greens – Rich in vitamins and probiotics, leafy green veggies like kale, cabbage, broccoli, will help you get through the UTI easier and quicker.
- Baking soda – Alkaline in nature, baking soda will help neutralise your urine, alleviating the burning sensation and relieving your pain. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to a glass of water and drink it early in the morning for a couple of days.
- Use something warm – Applying warmth to your lower abdomen can go a long way towards relieving the discomfort caused by Cystitis. You can use a bottle of warm water, an electric blanket or even a simple warm cloth.
I would also recommend using D-Mannose capsules to help battle the infection.
And before we get to my number one solution, let me tell you a quick story which inspired me to write this article). Actually, it’s all thanks to a friend of mine. She used, and she’d often complain about the discomfort they caused and the disruption they caused to her routine. Naturally, I wanted to help her out and after scouring the Internet for solutions, I presented her with a list of 8 things that she could try. We went down the list together, discussing the pros and cons of each method, and she gave them all a shot. And all of them worked, to varying degrees.
It turns out that, even though all the solutions above can benefit everyone with a UTI, they won’t affect everyone in the same way. Some people report great results from just limiting their sugar intake, others prefer the baking soda (my friend turned out to be a soda person too), and so on.
But there was one more thing on our list, and it actually works for everyone:
Apple cider vinegar!
Apple cider vinegar
As most dieticians will tell you, apple cider vinegar is very good for your body. Rich in enzymes and minerals, it’s a natural antibiotic, packing enough punch to stop most bacteria in its tracks. A mere tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per day can do wonders for your UTI condition. And if you struggle with how it tastes, you can always prepare a quick drink by using the following:
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1 glass of water
- A few drops of lemon
- Honey to taste (but not too much – we’re limiting the sugar intake, remember?)
Now, whenever my friend feels like she’s developing Cystitis, she just takes a sip of this mix, and it all goes away before she even has the time to complain about it!
If a lot of what you’ve read in this article comes across as general wellness advice, that’s because it is … well, sort of. The better you take care of your body on a day-to-day basis, the more chance your immune system has of fighting off bacteria or sickness. Yes, limiting your sugar intake when you’ve actually contracted a UTI will help. But there’s no need to wait for sickness to strike before you start taking care of yourself!
Drinking more water, eating more fruits and veggies and limiting processed sugar are things that I’d recommend to everyone who wants to live a happy and healthy life. Make the right choice and start taking care of your body today.
What is your experience with UTIs? Have you suffered from Cystitis before? If so, how did you deal with it – did you use any of the methods in this article, or do you have DIY tricks of your own?
Tell me your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below!