What is cystitis? Cystitis is a bladder infection that occurs when the bladder becomes inflamed or damaged in some way.

The symptoms of cystitis

There are a number of symptoms that could indicate that you have cystitis. They include:

  • A burning or stinging sensation when you urinate
  • A need to urinate more frequently
  • Feeling that you need to urinate shortly after just having done so
  • Dark, cloudy, and smelly urine
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Felling achy, fatigued and generally unwell
  • Blood in your urine

Blood in your urine can indicate a more serious condition, so it is important that you see your GP for an early diagnosis.

Most cases of cystitis are caused by bacteria.

Bacterial cystitis

The bacteria that most often cause cystitis normally live on the skin or in the gut. It is when they get into the bladed that cystitis develops. The way they get into the bladder is via the urethra – the tubes that carries your urine. This partially explains why women suffer from cystitis more than men, as their “plumbing” is different.   In women, the anus is that much closer to the urethra than in men.

Women who have cystitis and who live and/or work in London can benefit from the walk-in well-woman clinic operated by Broadgate GP Clinic London Wall

Other ways that bacteria can work their way into the bladder include:

  • Through having sex
  • By wiping your bottom, having been to the toilet (wiping your bottom from front to back – away from your urethra is recommended)
  • By inserting a tampon or a urinary catheter (a urinary catheter is a thin tube that is inserted into the urethra to facilitate draining the bladder)
  • By using a diaphragm as your method of contraception

There are a number of other things that can increase the risk of picking up a bladder infection. These include:

  • Chemicals that irritate (e.g. from bubble bath or soap)
  • Damage from a surgical procedure
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Friction induced through sex
  • Having some sort of blockage (e.g. a kidney stone) in your urinary system
  • Having an enlarged prostate gland (men only) that presses against your urethra
  • If you are pregnant, your baby could be positioned such that it is bringing pressure to bear on your bladder
  • Pelvic radiotherapy of chemotherapy
  • Medical condition that increase the risk of cystitis

There are some other medical conditions that can also increase the chances of cystitis. These include diabetes, and the menopause.

What is cystitis? Why does diabetes increase the risk

If you suffer from diabetes, you will have increased levels of sugar in your urine. Sugar provides a good environment in which bacteria can proliferate.

What is cystitis? Why does the menopause increase the risk?

When women go through the menopause, their levels of oestrogen are drastically reduced which means that the lining of the bladder can shrink, becoming thinner. In addition to this thinning, the normal balance of bacteria within the vagina also changes. This increases the chances of harmful bacteria proliferating.

Both of these phenomena can result in the urethra becoming more vulnerable to bacterial infection.

Visit your GP or Broadgate GP Clinic London Wall for a urine test

In the majority of cases of cystitis, the infection clears itself in a matter of days. If it doesn’t clear, or the discomfort is extreme, you should visit your GP, or if you live/and/or work in London, call in to the walk-in clinic we operate here at Broadgate GP Clinic London Wall.

Now you know the answer to the question of what is cystitis? – a simple urine test will indicate whether you do have a cystitis infection. If you do, the doctor can prescribe a course of antibiotics which should clear it up quickly.

If you are concerned about a urinary tract infection, drop in to Broadgate’s walk-in clinic today, or call us on 020 7638 4330.