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What to do if you have a bladder infection

18 Jan, 2023

What to do if you have a bladder infection

If you have ever had a bladder infection, you know from your own experience how uncomfortable it can be. Although cystitis is usually harmless and can be treated without significant problems, you should not ignore it and do something to relieve it promptly.

Why cystitis occurs, what symptoms it causes and how it can be treated are explained below.

The most important facts about cystitis at a glance

  • In most cases, bacteria are responsible for cystitis.
  • Women are affected much more often than men by cystitis.
  • The typical symptoms of cystitis include an increased urge to urinate and pain when urinating.
  • Cystitis is treated with antibiotics, which usually causes the symptoms to subside quickly.
  • Various home remedies, such as bladder and kidney teas, can support the medical treatment.

 What is cystitis?

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Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder that affects the mucous membranes of the bladder. This can lead to difficulty and pain in urinating and an increased urge to urinate. Inflammation usually affects not only the bladder, but also the urethra at the same time.

Causes of cystitis

Most bladder infections are caused by bacteria. They often come from the intestines and enter the urethra and from there into the bladder.

Apart from that, it is also possible that the inflammation first affects the kidneys and the bacteria then spread to the bladder via the ureters.

Other possible causes of cystitis include infestation with tropical worms, treatment with some medications, and radiation to the pelvic region.

Risk factors for cystitis

There are a number of factors that can affect an individual's risk of developing cystitis.

Factors that can increase the likelihood of getting cystitis include:

  • Certain contraceptive methods
  • Frequent sex
  • Bladder dysfunction
  • A cystoscopy
  • A bladder catheter
  • Diabetes 
  • A weak immune system
  • Pregnancy

 Why bladder infections occur mainly in women

Women are affected by bladder infections much more often than men. This is primarily due to the fact that the female urethra is significantly shorter and its opening is comparatively close to the anus. This makes it easier for bacteria to pass from the anal region into the urethra, where they have to travel a shorter distance to reach the bladder and cause inflammation.

Symptoms of cystitis

Inflammation of the bladder can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms. The exact symptoms and how severe they are depends on the severity of the cystitis.

period pants ukMild cystitis sometimes only causes a slight burning sensation when you urinate and an increased urge to urinate. However, it is also possible that you have other, more severe symptoms of cystitis.

Typical symptoms of cystitis include the following in particular:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Pain and burning when you urinate
  • An increased urge to urinate (sometimes at night)
  • Painful cramping of the bladder
  • Pain in the bladder area

Your urine may also have an unpleasant smell and be cloudy in colour. If your kidneys are also affected by the inflammation, you may also have back pain. If the infection spreads to your vagina, you may also experience increased vaginal discharge.

Chronic cystitis

Some women get cystitis regularly. If you get three or four of these a year, it is a chronic problem. If you have a chronic bladder infection, it is usually a good idea to get a urine culture to find out exactly what is causing it, so that you can treat it successfully and for a long time.

Risk of renal pelvic inflammation

Renal pelvic inflammatory disease is a serious complication that can occur with cystitis. Also known as pyelonephritis, renal pelvic inflammatory disease is caused by bacteria that spread from the bladder through the ureters to the renal pelvis.

Diagnosis of cystitis

To diagnose cystitis, the doctor will first ask you about your medical history and symptoms. In many cases, further examinations are not necessary in order to initiate appropriate treatment measures.

In certain situations, however, further diagnosis may be necessary. The methods used include, for example, the preparation of a urine culture or the examination of the urine under a microscope.

If you think you may have a kidney infection as well as a bladder infection, you may also need an ultrasound scan.

Treatment for cystitis

Basically, you can assume that your bladder infection will go away on its own. This is true at least if there are no complications.

However, it is still a good idea to actively support the healing process and take appropriate treatment measures to counteract the symptoms of cystitis and promote recovery.

As is usual with a bacterial infection, you will usually be prescribed an antibiotic to treat your bladder infection. You will usually need to take this orally in the form of tablets or capsules. Intravenous antibiotics are usually only needed if you have a severe inflammation of the kidney pelvis as well as the bladder.

Usually you will need to take the antibiotic for a period of three days to a maximum of a week. It is tried to end the treatment as soon as possible to avoid the development of resistance to the antibiotics given. At the same time, it is important to continue the treatment long enough to get rid of the bladder infection permanently.

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Treatment of cystitis during pregnancy

If you get a bladder infection during your pregnancy, it is essential that it is treated promptly. Otherwise, there is a significant risk of serious complications. The treatment of cystitis in pregnant women is of course also carried out with antibiotics, whereby care is taken to ensure that the preparation is as well tolerated as possible.

Home remedies for cystitis

There are a lot of home remedies that are regularly recommended to relieve bladder infections. Some of them do have some effect. However, they are not a substitute for antibiotics. If your symptoms do not subside quickly despite home remedies, or if they even increase, a visit to the doctor is definitely recommended.

Regardless of this, you can support the treatment of your cystitis with bladder and kidney tea, for example, which has an anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effect. Mustard oils and essential oils can also help to counteract cystitis due to their antibiotic effect.

Apart from that, the ingredients in various juices, such as cranberry and cranberry juice, can also help to alleviate an existing bladder infection. However, you should not expect miracles from them.

Drinking is especially important if you have a bladder infection

If you have a bladder infection, it is generally very important to drink enough. You should drink at least two litres a day, even if the inflammation is probably causing you pain when you urinate. This will help flush the bacteria out of your bladder, making it less likely that the bacteria will spread to your kidney pelvis or ureters.

Don't just drink the right amount, but also the right type of beverage to keep you hydrated. While water and tea are good choices, other drinks can sometimes cause additional irritation to the urinary tract or encourage the growth of bacteria because of certain ingredients. Try to avoid alcohol and coffee, as well as sugary sodas and the like, until you have cured your bladder infection.

Heat helps to relax the muscles

In addition to drinking enough unsweetened tea and water, heat can also help to relieve the symptoms of cystitis. Try warm compresses or a hot water bottle. Both can help relax your muscles and ease some of the discomfort. Some women even find a foot bath helpful.

Preventing cystitis

Of course, it's best if you don't get a bladder infection in the first place. Although it is not possible to protect yourself completely, there are some things you can do to prevent it.

Make sure you don't wipe yourself from back to front after having a bowel movement, as this is an easy way for germs to spread from the anal region to the entrance of the urethra. In addition, pH-neutral care products and underwear made of breathable cotton can help to reduce the likelihood of a bladder infection.

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Sexual intercourse and contraception also play an important role in reducing the risk of bladder infections. By going to the toilet immediately after sex, you can flush out any bacteria that may be present. Apart from that, using condoms reduces the chance of getting a bladder infection, while using a diaphragm or an IUD increases the risk.

It is also helpful to avoid chilling your body and cold feet. Make sure you dress appropriately for the weather and change your clothes promptly if they get wet.

Do you already know Weekiss period underwear?

If you want inconspicuous and comfortable protection due to the urge to urinate caused by cystitis, wearing period underwear can be a good choice. For example, try the Weekiss Brazilian Period pantsor the Boyshort Period pants.

The comfortable and sustainable underwear convinces with its easy handling and ensures that you can feel safe in everyday life, not only during your menstruation.    

Our conclusion on cystitis

As you can see, cystitis is usually easy to treat, so you don't usually have to worry about serious complications.

Home remedies can help relieve the symptoms of cystitis to a certain extent. In most cases, however, a visit to the doctor is still advisable.