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What is cystitis?

Cystitis is an infection of the bladder, but the term is often used indiscriminately and covers a range of infections and irritations in the lower urinary system. It causes burning sensations during urination and a frequent need to urinate.

How do you get cystitis?

Infection from intestinal bacteria is by far the most frequent cause of cystitis, especially among women, who have a very short urethra (the tube through which the urine passes from the bladder to the outside). Normally, urine is sterile (there are no micro-organisms such as bacteria present). Between 20 to 40 per cent of women will get cystitis in their lifetime.

However, it is possible to have bacteria in the bladder without having any symptoms (especially in the elderly). There can be several reasons for the bacteria settling in the bladder. Inadequate emptying resulting in stagnation of urine may lead to infection. This may be caused by some drugs (for example, antidepressants), immobility, abnormal bladder control and constipation. Even the small drop which is always left behind may contain bacteria. Conditions that may make it easier for the bacteria to travel through the urethra include those listed below.

Toilet hygiene

Particularly common among females, as they have a shorter urethra than males and it is situated relatively close to their anus (back passage). Women and girls must dry themselves from front to back, towards the anus – not the other way around – to avoid leading bacteria from their intestine into their urethra.
Congenital deformity in the urinary system

In the case of repeated infections of the urinary system, particularly among boys and young men, the individual should be checked for a congenital (present from birth) deformity somewhere in the urinary system which prevents the complete emptying of the bladder.

People with a catheter

Everyone with a catheter (to drain urine) will have bacteria in their bladder, usually without symptoms. During the change of catheter, small lesions (damaged areas) may appear, which may increase the danger of infection (cystitis) and possible blood infection.

Men with an enlarged prostate

An enlarged prostate (male sex gland) in teh older male prevents the bladder from emptying completely.
Other conditions like prostatitis (infection in the prostate) and urethritis (infection in the urethra) may give rise to similar symptoms in the younger male.

Pregnant women

If pregnant women have bacteria in their urine, their urine should be cultured twice, regardless of whether or not they have any symptoms. If the same strains of bacteria occur, they should be treated. Otherwise, there is the risk of kidney infection and pre-term delivery (if near the due date).

Other causes

‘Honeymoon’ cystitis

Cystitis in women related to increased frequency of sexual activity.

Venereal diseases

Gonorrhoea and chlamydia infections may cause symptoms similar to cystitis. In addition, there is usually a vaginal discharge, bleeding after sexual intercourse and an inflamed cervix. Cystitis-like symptoms among young sexually active men may be caused by venereal diseases and they should seek immediate medical advice.


Particularly among people who have been in North Africa or the Middle East. The bladder may be infested by parasites – schistosomiasis or bilharzia (river blindness). The symptoms are similar to cystitis, but there are no bacteria in the urine.

Postmenopausal women

Due to lack of female sex hormones in postmenopausal women, a range of changes take place in the whole body. A consequence of this is that the urinary system is more easily irritated by cystitis.

Contact dermatitis

Women using a deodorant or other potentially irritating material on their genitals may develop cystitis-like symptoms.

What are the symptoms of cystitis?

  • Burning sensations or pain during urination.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Cloudy and foul-smelling urine.
  • Pain directly above the pubic bone.
  • Children under five years of age often have less concrete symptoms, such as weakness, irritability, reduced appetite and vomiting.
  • Older women may also have no symptoms other than weakness, falls, confusion or fever.
  • Occasional blood in the urine.

Who is at special risk?

  • Women or girls who do not practice proper toilet hygiene.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People with a congenital deformity in the urinary system.
  • Men with an enlarged prostate.
  • People using a catheter.
  • Young people having unprotected sexual intercourse.
  • Cystitis can be treated with natural and drug-free tampons “Beautiful Life”.


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