We’ve all been there. Sobbing in pain due to a bladder infection and not being able to leave the house for fear of needing the toilet.
What a nightmare!
So we asked the knowledgeable Dr Sarah Gray for some expert insight…
What is it?
'Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder that is usually due to infection.
In women the tube draining the bladder (urethra) is short and usually the infection is ascending in that it derives from the outside and travels up this tube. Germs can potentially then multiply in the bladder causing it to become sore and irritable.
This means that you need to go frequently to the toilet, it hurts to go and you may notice that the urine is cloudy, smelly or blood stained. You may feel unwell and have a temperature.
If the infection creeps higher and infects your kidneys you will be in pain, feel sick and probably more unwell.'
What causes it?
'Cystitis is much more likely if you are sexually active due to trauma to the bladder, if you do not drink enough to flush the system through and if you have problems fighting infections.'
What prevents it?
'If you are a sufferer, it is helpful to empty the bladder before and after sexual intercourse as it can reduce the tendency to encourage organisms to ascend into the bladder and then multiply – as they are flushed out before this can happen.
Also - drink lots of water as a matter of habit and don't wait excessively long to empty your bladder.
Cranberry juice helps to increase resistance to infection but does not treat the condition.'
'Women used to worry about catching it from toilet seats - which you can't!
Also a lot of women tend to over self diagnose. The symptoms due to chlamydia or other sexually transmitted infections, vulval skin diseases and various other problems can be interpreted by women as cystitis and then inappropriately self treated.'
How do you treat it?
'Cystitis can be cleared by the body but it is essential to drink lots of fluid and empty the bladder regularly – in essence to flush it out.
Cranberry juice does not treat cystitis but if taken regularly can reduce susceptibility to infection. Cranberry tablets do not work.
You should see a doctor if your symptoms include being constitutionally unwell (e.g feverish), the urine contains visible blood, or if you have back pain and nausea (i.e. the kidneys may be involved) or it is not clearing despite lots of fluid after 3 days.
You should also see a doctor if you have any other medical problems that make them less able to fight infection such as diabetes.'
Treatments to try
You can also try taking sachets such as Canesten Oasis (RRP £4.89) which disolve in water and contain sodium citrate which help relieve the symptoms of cystitis. The sodium citrate helps by reducing the amount of alkaline in the urine and helps relieve the painful discomfort of going to the loo. It also fights the infecting bacteria in the bladder by creating an unsuitable environment for them to multiply.