Cystitis can cause severe pain and burning sensation when urinating. Frequent urge to urinate and cloudy urine are also typical symptoms. Why women are affected more often, which home remedies help and the right therapy for cystitis.
Cystitis (lower urinary tract infection, cystitis) is one of the most common infectious diseases. Every second woman suffers from it at least once in her life; bladder infections occur particularly often during pregnancy. In cases of cystitis, the symptoms are limited to the lower urinary tract, in contrast to the inflammation of the kidneys (pyelonephritis), in which the infection extends to the upper urinary tract.
Overview of article content:
How does bladder infection develop?
Why cystitis is so much less common in men than in girls and women: The female urethra is much shorter than the male, so bacteria – the most common cause of cystitis – can get into the bladder faster and ignite the mucous membrane there.
In addition, the woman’s urethra and intestinal exit are relatively close together. So coli bacteria from the intestine easily get into the urethra. In over 75 percent of cases, bladder infections are caused by bacteria of the type Escherichia coli (E. coli) triggered. The transmission of the pathogens from the intestine into the bladder is one of the most common reasons for infection.
Other types of bacteria, such as Klebsielle, Proteus mirabilis or Staphylococci, are also triggers. In rare cases, fungi or viruses can be responsible for the cystitis.
You can find out more about the causes of cystitis here.
What to do if you have a bladder infection? Tips and home remedies
Most urinary tract infections are straightforward and can be managed relatively quickly with the right treatment. However, at the first signs of cystitis there is a need for action to prevent a complicated course.
In addition to drug treatment, these tips and home remedies can help recovery from cystitis:
Drink a lot: Suitable drinks are unsweetened herbal teas and water.
Leave a lot of water: The toilet should not be delayed too long, otherwise bacteria can concentrate in the urinary tract. Herbal, aquaretic (diuretic) preparations can support excretion. In addition to a possibly necessary antibiotic treatment in the case of cystitis, these herbal medicines for flushing the urinary tract have proven their worth.
Heat supply: Coldness reduces blood circulation, also in the genital area, while heat promotes blood circulation and has an antispasmodic effect in pain. A hot water bottle or a hot bath is the best solution. In addition, put on warm clothes (e.g. cotton underwear) and always keep your feet warm.
Rest and relaxation: This gives the body the opportunity to refuel its defenses.
Hygiene: Wash the genital area thoroughly so that bacteria do not get into the bladder again. Do not use intimate sprays as these can impair the natural protective function of the vagina. It is better to use gentle, pH-neutral washing lotions.
No sex: Until the bladder infection is over, it is advisable to wait with the intercourse.
Uncomplicated and complicated urinary tract infection
Most acute bladder infections in women are classified as uncomplicated, herbal active ingredients have proven themselves in the treatment. Cystitis is considered uncomplicated if there are no functional or anatomical abnormalities in the urinary tract and there are no risk factors for a severe course such as previous illnesses (e.g. diabetes or autoimmune diseases) or pregnancy.
In men, on the other hand, urinary tract infections are usually complicated and should be clarified by the doctor, since the testicles could be affected or the prostate could be at risk.
Important: Severe symptoms, pain in the back, kidney or flank area, fever or blood in the urine indicate a complicated and severe course of a urinary tract infection (such as a kidney infection) and should be clarified and treated by the doctor in women and men.
If a urinary tract infection is not recognized or treated incorrectly, this can have serious consequences:
- Acute cystitis can become a chronic infection.
- The bacteria can rise and cause inflammation of the kidney, with symptoms such as fever, flank pain and chills.
- With an upper urinary tract infection, there is a possibility that germs can enter the bloodstream, which can lead to blood poisoning.
- Frequent cystitis can permanently damage the bladder and kidney tissue.
- Chronic urinary tract infections can also be responsible for urinary incontinence, in which voluntary retention of the urine is only partially possible.
Burning sensation when urinating: typical symptoms of cystitis
If you have already had cystitis, identifying a bladder infection is relatively easy. If you are first caught, the following symptoms speak for cystitis:
- Burning and painful urination (dysuria)
- increased urge to urinate (pollakiuria): you need to use the toilet more often than usual if you only have small amounts of urine
With just eight quick check questions, you can determine if you may have a bladder infection. Test now!
- cramp-like pain in the area of the bladder (lower abdominal pain)
- Problems holding your urine
- strongly smelling, cloudy urine
Learn more about symptoms and possible complications of a urinary tract infection here.
Risk factors for bladder infections
Among other things, the following factors increase the risk of cystitis:
Sexual intercourse (Honeymoon-Zystitis): Bacteria get into the bladder through the movement. Urinating after sex can reduce the risk because it flushes out the bacteria.
Use of contraceptives such as Diaphragm or spermicide. This changes the vaginal flora and favors infections.
previous asymptomatic Bacteriuria (Germs are detected in the urine without causing any symptoms)
previous Urinary tract infections
youthful Alter at the first cystitis
Occurrence of urinary tract infections in the family
Stress, lack of sleep, unhealthy eating or other factors that weaken the immune system
Urinary tract infections also occur frequently in otherwise healthy pregnant women, especially in the last trimester. Older menopausal women (especially in the postmenopause, i.e. a period of ten to 15 years after the last menstrual period) are more at risk because the vaginal flora changes during this phase and a reduced colonization with lactobacilli can favor an infection.
Diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, can also increase the risk of cystitis. In diabetics, the sugar level in the urine is increased, which promotes the multiplication of bacteria. A visit to the doctor makes it possible to rule out underlying diseases or to treat them in a targeted manner.
Caution, bacteria: is bladder infection contagious?
Cystitis occurs when germs enter the urethra and from there into the bladder. This can be done in various ways, often via intercourse, when pathogens from the intestine are literally massaged into the vagina and urethra.
The shared use of toilets can also pose a certain risk. This starts from objects that are usually touched before and after using the toilet, such as door handles. If bacteria get on your fingers from there and then into the vagina, for example when you insert a tampon, the germs can migrate into the urethra and cause bladder infection.
A direct infection on the way from a sick person to a healthy person is, however, rather unlikely. Passing on the bladder infection within the family, for example by sharing the toilet, does not pose a special risk and therefore need not be feared.
“Classic cystitis is not contagious per se,” explains Eliane Sarasin Ricklin, gynecologist and sexologist. Cystitis is also not sexually transmitted. In any case, “few women with cystitis would like to have sex because it causes pain”.
Cystitis can become chronic
If you already have an acute bladder infection, the likelihood that it will recur in the same year is relatively high. In some cases there is even a chronic recurring (recurrent) cystitis.
Diseases and living conditions that favor chronic cystitis:
- Urinary tract infection of the sex partner
- Metabolic disorders like diabetes mellitus and gout
- Diseases of the kidney
- Inflammation of the prostate in the sexual partner
- Bladder stones, kidney stones
- Narrowed urinary tract
- Smoking, alcohol, stress, poor nutrition
- Decrease in hormone production in and after menopause
- weakened immune system
In about 90 percent of cases, recurrent cystitis is triggered by the same pathogen. A possible reason may be that a previous inflammation has not been cured thoroughly. This is why the aftercare of an acute bladder infection and the thorough flushing out of all possible pathogens play a particularly important role.
Carry out therapy sufficiently long
Flushing therapy should also be continued beyond the duration of the acute symptoms. In addition to an increased fluid intake, herbal medicinal products are suitable for this. Even if an antibiotic is used, a flushing of the urinary tract – both accompanying and for some time beyond – is recommended to flush out the pathogens.
If you are treated with antibiotics, you should also take the medication according to the doctor’s instructions. Stopping the antibiotic unauthorized too early, for example because of side effects or the symptoms have already subsided, can promote the re-inflammation of the bladder infection, since not all bacteria have been killed yet. The risk of resistance to antibiotics is also increasing: if people take antibiotics too often or use them incorrectly, these resistances can develop. In addition, 15 percent of the causative agents of cystitis are already resistant to antibiotics, which are considered standard therapy.
If an uncomplicated urinary tract infection occurs no more than three times a year, there are no further complications for the organs involved, such as the urinary tract or kidneys. If an infection keeps coming back, you should discuss this with your doctor and have further examinations carried out by the gynecologist / urologist to rule out organic causes.
Prophylaxis: Prevent the bladder infection
Regardless of whether there is an occasional or repeated cystitis: prevention is better than treating a present urinary tract infection. Of course, this is not always possible. Because: Not every triggering factor is avoidable. But those who know their personal risk and possible prophylactic measures are better protected against cystitis. Read here how to prevent cystitis. For a first assessment, our self-test is suitable, which queries typical symptoms of cystitis.