If you’ve been feeling a burning or stinging sensation when you go to the loo or feel the need to go more often, it’s highly possible that you may have a urinary tract infection (UTI) known as cystitis, which is inflammation of the bladder.
Unfortunately, it’s more common in women and, although it is generally more of an annoyance and not a big medical cause for concern, some people do suffer more episodes than others and as such may require a different approach to just taking antibiotics.
And don’t forget that if it’s left untreated, it’s possible that your cystitis could result in more serious kidney infections, so get a strong urine sample to your GP for testing.
The symptoms of cystitis
There are numerous symptoms to look out for, but the main ones are pain low down in your tummy, dark, cloudy or strong-smelling urine, a burning or painful sensation when going to the loo or the urge to go more frequently and more urgently than you would usually.
Remember that children can also suffer from UTIs, with potential symptoms including irritability or weakness, a fever, needing to go urgently or more often, and pain in the tummy region. You may also see a drop in appetite and vomiting.
What causes cystitis?
There are lots of reasons why you might have cystitis and according to the NHS, the majority of cases seen take place because bacteria normally living in the bowel or on your skin has managed to get into your bladder somehow via the urethral opening by the vagina.
You can increase your risk of getting it by having sex, being pregnant, having diabetes, using diaphragms for contraception, having a urinary catheter and wiping wrongly from back to front after going to the loo. In actual fact, there are hundreds of causes.
What self-help measures for cystitis are there?
You could invest in a cystitis self help book if you find that you’re often coming down with symptoms. Something like The Patient’s Encyclopaedia of Urinary Tract Infection, Sexual Cystitis and Interstitial Cystitis could help you work out just why you’re suffering so much and what lifestyle changes you can make to reduce and prevent more episodes.
Drinking enough water, but not too much, is necessary as this will help to flush the inflection out of your bladder, so keep well hydrated – even when you’re no longer experiencing symptoms.
It’s also advisable not to have sex until you’re feeling better as this will make your condition even worse.
You may need to take painkillers while waiting for the antibiotics to start working and you should feel symptoms subsiding by day two. Sensitive antibiotics will work against the bacteria found in your sample and you’ll will soon feel a lot better.