While you might think cystitis has something to do with cysts, given the root of the term, you’d be wrong in this case. Cystitis refers to the medical condition when your bladder is inflamed, swollen and tender. If you have an infected bladder, you may experience other symptoms besides pain in your lower abdomen, such as:
- Discomfort or uncomfortable pressure in your bladder
- A constant need to urinate, but you’re only able to urinate a little bit each time
- A painful burning when you urinate
- Blood in your urine
- Translucent and/or concentrated (smelly) urine
- Possible fever
Cystitis is a treatable condition, and it’s recommended that you visit your NYC gynecologist or OBGYN specialists. If you don’t have it treated, cystitis can become more serious. Besides suffering from increasingly worse symptoms, the infection can spread to your kidneys, where it’s more difficult to treat. If you experience any of the following symptoms of an infected kidney, seek medical attention:
- Pain from the area of your kidneys, which are in the back of your upper abdomen
- Running a high temperature
- Feeling nauseous or even vomiting
All symptoms should be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by your gynecologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to exclude any underlying serious condition.
What Causes Cystitis
Often, the cause of cystitis is a bacterial infection — a urinary tract infection or UTI — that reaches your bladder. UTIs are fairly common in women, since your vagina naturally contains a variety of bacteria. Sexual intercourse, therefore, sometimes causes a UTI. But obviously, that’s not the only way to get a UTI, since women who aren’t sexually inactive still can suffer from an infected urinary tract. Bacteria can migrate from the rectum to the urethra and then to the bladder.
The pain and inflammation of cystitis can result from several other conditions as well, although these causes are less common:
- Continual use of irritation-causing products, such as chemical-based feminine hygiene products and contraceptives
- An allergic reaction to some feminine hygiene products, contraceptives or even bubble bath
- As a reaction to certain medications, especially chemotherapy drugs
- Using a catheter for a long time
- Chronic inflammation of your bladder (Interstitial Cystitis)
- From radiation therapy to treat cancer
- Other medical conditions — such as kidney stones or diabetes — can cause cystitis as a complication
Weighing Your Risks
Cystitis can strike any woman, but there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of getting a urinary tract infection. Since a UTI is one of the primary causes of cystitis, reducing your chances of getting one also reduces your susceptibility to cystitis. At the same time, some risk factors are purely physical, such as having a shorter urethra, which shortens the distance bacteria has to go to get to your bladder.
The best advice is to be aware of when you might be suffering from a UTI so you can treat it promptly. Here are other risk factors for developing a UTI:
- Being sexually active, which introduce bacteria into your urethra
- Using some contraceptives, such as some vaginal rings and spermicidal creams
- Experiencing a bladder stone or a kidney stone stuck in your urethra
- Being pregnant, which obviously changes your hormonal system
- Having passed menopause, for the same reason
- Suffering from another medical condition, such as diabetes, a sexually transmitted disease or an HIV infection
- Using a catheter over an extended period, which can push bacteria directly into your bladder
- Getting cancer treatments, including radiation and chemotherapy
Testing for and Treating Cystitis
Since the symptoms of cystitis also can indicate other, more serious medical conditions like ovarian cysts, it’s important to see your doctor or gynecologist in NYC if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. Your OBGYN can usually rule out other conditions to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. Then your treatment can begin.
The tests your doctor may order include:
- A simple urine analysis, which can detect the presence of blood, bacteria or other foreign matter in your urine
- A cystoscopy, for which your NYC OBGYN inserts a thin tube with a light and camera on the end, called a cystoscope, into your urethra to look for telltale signs of disease or infection
- An X-ray or ultrasound test (such as a sonogram), which can produce a better picture of what’s going on with your bladder — especially when other tests fail to provide any clues
Once your doctor has confirmed a diagnosis of cystitis, the most common treatment is to put you on a course of antibiotics. The type of antibiotic and the length of time you have to take it depend on your medical history, allergies, the type of bacteria and the severity of your infection. The normal course is three to seven days, with a follow-up exam to make sure the infection has completed disappeared.
If you’ve been suffering from recurring cystitis, tell your OBGYN. You may need a different treatment or at least a different type of antibiotic. It’s also possible that your cystitis is being caused by an underlying cause that isn’t being treated by the antibiotics. In this case, your doctor may have to run additional tests to find that underlying cause so it can be treated effectively.
Complications Associated with Cystitis
The most serious complication from cystitis — and the main reason to treat it right away — is the danger of kidney infection. Called pyelonephritis, a kidney infection can permanently injure your kidneys. The longer the condition goes untreated, the worse it can become.
Sometimes, you’ll have blood in your urine that’s not visible to the naked eye. A urine analysis test, however, can spot the blood. If this condition continues even after your antibiotic treatment, you may need to undergo further testing to determine the cause of the blood in your urine.
If you get cystitis during a hospital stay, the chances are that the bacteria causing your UTI are resistant to the most common types of antibiotics. Treating cystitis in a hospital usually means a more aggressive therapy or stronger antibiotics, which sometimes have unintended side effects. Fortunately, infections from a hospital stay are on the decline, although catheter-related infections have stayed the same since 2009.
When to Call Your NYC OBGYN
Symptoms should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by your gynecologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to exclude any underlying serious condition. If your symptoms return after you’ve finished your antibiotics, return to your doctor for a consultation and exam. You just may need a different antibiotic, or the renewed symptoms could signal a more serious problem.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide gynecology guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult ob/gyn doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified gynecologist or certified gynecology specialist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have questions about Pelvic Pain, Cystitis or Bladder Infection? Would like to schedule an appointment with one of the best rated NYC Gynecologist, Dr. Anat Zelmanovich, please contact our office.
Dr. Anat Zelmanovich, Gynecologist (Gynecologist NYC, Midtown OB/GYN)
New York, NY 10010
☎ (212) 533-4575
Dr. Anat Zelmanovich, Gynecologist (Gynecologist NYC, Upper East Side OB/GYN)
New York, NY 10028
☎ (212) 533-4575