A person holding their bladder that's illuminated in red.

Cystitis of the Bladder: Risk Factors and Symptoms

Cystitis of the Bladder

Cystitis of the bladder is a common condition that usually occurs among women. For something that occurs commonly, it is important to know what causes it and what the risk factors are. This article will discuss what bladder cystitis is, its causes, as well as the risk factors. The symptoms of bladder cystitis will also be discussed, as well as what to do if you feel you are at risk.

What is Bladder Cystitis?

The suffix itis in medical terms means that something is inflamed. From this, it can be deduced that bladder cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder.

The cause of bladder cystitis can vary. There are infectious and non-infectious causes of bladder cystitis. However, the inflammation in bladder cystitis is commonly due to an infection. Bladder cystitis is generally regarded as a form of urinary tract infection and refers to the infection of the bladder. The source of infection can be from the perineum (the area between the genitals and the anus), the anus or bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract.

A common gastrointestinal microorganism notorious for causing urinary tract infections is E. coli. However, other bacteria and sometimes fungi or protozoa can also be a cause of urinary tract infection. Non-infectious causes of bladder cystitis include malignancy or the presence of bladder stones.

Cystitis of the bladder can be complicated and uncomplicated. Uncomplicated cystitis occurs when there is a urinary tract infection in a person who is healthy and has no risk factors. An example of this is a young adult with a normal urinary bladder. Complicated cystitis on the other hand occurs when there is a urinary tract infection that is associated with risk factors. This is important because risk factors can determine how responsive an affected person can be and how fast the person can be cured.

What Are the Risk Factors?

There are certain risk factors that put a person at an increased risk for bladder cystitis. For non-complicated cystitis, risk factors for acquiring an infection include sexual intercourse, having new sex partners and a family history of urinary tract infections. Females are more susceptible to bladder cystitis than males due to the anatomy of the urinary tract. Compared to males, the female urethra is closer to the anus. This gives females a higher chance of getting a urinary tract infection compared to males.

However, there are also risk factors that can lead to complicated cystitis. These include structural abnormalities of the bladder or urinary tract, the presence of other illnesses especially in older age groups and any history of surgery or catheterization or stenting of the urethra (the entrance that leads to the urinary bladder and the opening where urine leaves the body). Because they can lead to complicated cystitis, management may not be as simple as taking a regimen of the usual antibiotics. It is important that these people be worked up when they have symptoms of bladder cystitis, especially if urinary tract infections occur frequently.

Symptoms of Bladder Cystitis

Bladder cystitis has various symptoms. The most common symptoms people with bladder cystitis experience include dysuria, or pain while urinating, frequency in urinating, changes in the color and odor of the urine (sometimes people see blood in the urine). In some cases, people can experience abdominal pain or discomfort, a fever and a general feeling of being unwell. However, some people do not experience this and would not know that they have bladder cystitis at all.

1. Dysuria (Painful Urination)

Dysuria is a classic symptom of bladder cystitis. It is considered a painful sensation during urination and is one of the common urinary symptoms in adults. Some people experience pain during urination, which they describe as stinging, itching or burning. This occurs because of the inflammation of the lining of the bladder and urinary tract. When it is inflamed, the urine that comes into contact with it stimulates the nerve cells, which register pain.

Dysuria can be experienced acutely, but some people may not notice it and ignore it at first. For some people, dysuria can just be a discomfort while urinating that usually goes unnoticed for quite some time.

2. Urine Frequency

Urine frequency is when a person urinates often. This is not just because they have an increased intake of fluids, which makes them pee more often. Urinary frequency is the strong urge to urinate more often than is proper. This is not normal and can be a sign of urinary tract infection.

Urinary frequency occurs in the presence of infection because the inflammation causes a sensation in the bladder that signals it to urinate. In a way, the bladder becomes overactive, leading to increased frequency to urinate. Usually, a person urinates every four to six hours, considering that there is no excess intake of fluid. People with urine frequency usually urinate every hour or two.

3. Changes in the Urine

The presence of bacteria or microorganisms in the urine can lead to an inflammatory response. White blood cells and inflammatory markers can increase. There may be pus formation, which can make the urine look cloudy and have a distinct smell. The infection can also allow red blood cells to leak into the urine, so some people may see their urine turn to a darker color.

These changes in the urine can be confirmed by having a urinalysis. Sending away a sample of the urine can objectively identify if there is an infection. The presence of pus, red blood cells and even bacteria can be identified.

What to Do If You Feel You’re at Risk

If you feel you are at risk for bladder cystitis, it is important to consult your physician. The pharmacist or physician will be the one to provide the medications that you will need for your case. Other than pain relievers, it is important not to self-medicate to avoid antibiotic resistance. It is best to seek the evaluation of a physician if symptoms don’t improve or if cystitis is experienced often. If any of the risk factors above are present, it is important to have yourself evaluated.

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