Cystitis is a urinary tract infection (UTI) that commonly affects women. Cystitis is caused by bacteria entering the urethra and bladder, causing pain when urinating and sometimes blood in the urine. The infection can sometimes spread upwards towards the kidneys. Cystitis is treated with oral antibiotics such as Trimethoprim or Nitrofurantoin, but kidney infections may require IV antibiotics.
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Written by Dr Kimberly Langdon, MD
Information last reviewed 06/21/19
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can be categorized as lower or upper UTIs. Lower UTIs involve the bladder, whereas upper UTIs affect the kidneys. Kidney infections are also referred to as pyelonephritis. Most UTIs can be treated with oral antibiotics such as Nitrofurantoin or Trimethoprim, but some upper UTIs may require hospital admission and IV antibiotics.
UTIs are often caused by bacteria present on the skin near the rectum, vulva, vagina, and urethra. When these bacteria enter the urethra, they can cause a UTI or kidney infection. The most common bacteria involved in UTIs is E-Coli, but there are several other bacteria and some fungi that can cause cystitis.
Various risk factors for UTIs include:
The signs and symptoms of cystitis are:
Some additional symptoms are more common if you have an upper UTI or kidney infection. These include:
If you experience these symptoms, it is a good idea to seek medical attention - you may be admitted to hospital for IV antibiotics and monitoring.
UTIs are generally diagnosed by asking about your symptoms. Sometimes, a urine test will be done to confirm. If you experience recurrent cystitis, a urine culture may be done to learn more about the infection and its cause.
The symptoms of a UTI include:
A urine test involves inserting a dipstick into a urine sample. A dipstick is a card strip with patches containing different chemicals. This is dipped into the urine to identify the presence of blood, glucose (sugar), protein, infection and other factors.
It is worth noting that the symptoms of UTIs can also be caused by other conditions. If your urine test is negative or if your symptoms do not resolve after treatment with antibiotics, you may be evaluated for the following diseases: STIs, cervicitis, vaginitis, or pelvic inflammatory disease.
There are several risk factors for UTIs. Both medical conditions and lifestyle factors can predispose you to UTIs. So if you have any of the following conditions, you should be extra aware of the lifestyle factors that could make you even more likely to experience a UTI.
During sex it is easy for bacteria to travel from around the vagina or anus into the urethra. Therefore, it is a good idea to always urinate after sex.
If you have anal sex, a condom should always be changed or the penis should be washed before any vaginal penetration.
If you use any sex toys (or fingers) anally, they should be washed thoroughly before being allowed near the vagina.
If you use any sex toys, you should make sure they are washed thoroughly after use and stored in a clean container.
Without treatment, UTIs will resolve in 20-40% of women. But if a UTI is left untreated it can travel to the kidneys and cause a kidney infection. Therefore, if you experience UTI symptoms, it is a good idea to speak to a doctor.
Antibiotics such as Trimethoprim or Nitrofurantoin are prescribed for at least three days, but your symptoms may last longer than this.
Avoid risk factors of UTIs. Keep well-hydrated, make sure to completely empty the bladder and for women, always wipe front to back. For recurrent sufferers, urinate as soon as possible after having sex.
The infection can spread into the kidneys where it can reach the bloodstream, potentially leading to a life-threatening condition called sepsis.
Not true, UTIs resolve on their own in 20-40% of women. Antibiotics can be used to treat UTIs and to prevent the infection from spreading to the kidneys where the infection can be much more dangerous.
Urinary tract infections, are very common, especially in women and account for 6 million cases annually. They are caused by bacteria and result in pain with urination, lower abdominal pain, and sometimes blood in the urine. The treatment is with antibiotics and sometimes other medications to relieve the pain. In rare circumstances, the infection can travel to the kidneys but that is more common in the elderly and pregnant women.
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