Women’s Health: Dr Kath O’Brien on Cystitis

UTI – Urinary Tract Infection

dr kathrine o'brienWhen Women’s Health Magazine were compiling their recent feature on cystitics, The Smart Clinics’ GP Dr Kathrine O’Brien was invited to provide expert advice on the UTI.

Cystitis is a very annoying and uncomfortable urinary tract infection, which accounts for 3 million GP visits each year.

It is a common UTI which occurs when bacteria that live harmlessly in the bowel or on your skin, get into the bladder via the urethra. Cystitis causes inflammation of the bladder, causing great discomfort when urinating as well as other symptoms.

Cystitis – Expert Information

Dr Kath O’Brien provided extensive information on the condition for Women’s Health, extracts of which appear in the online article:

What is Cystitis?

“Cystitis is an infection of the bladder. It is usually settled with a short course of antibiotics but can sometimes settle by itself.

“Cystitis is common in women of all ages. About half of women have at least one bout of cystitis in their lives. One in three women will have had cystitis by the age of 24. About 4 out of 100 pregnant women develop cystitis.

“Cystitis is more common in women than men because of our anatomy. The tube from the bladder to the outside(the urethra) is short and opens near the bowel opening (the anus). Cystitis is more common if you are pregnant or have diabetes. It is also more common in women after the menopause because of changes in the tissues around the vagina & bladder.

Cystitis Symptoms

“Symptoms are needing to pass urine more frequently, pain on passing urine, low tummy pain, sometimes feeling unwell with fever. The commonest symptom is a continual feeling of needing to pass urine but only in fact passing small amounts with pain each time. Sometimes there is blood in the urine.

“There are other conditions which can cause similar symptoms to cystitis. Inflammation of the vulva and vagina from thrush (a yeast infection) or bubble baths & soaps can cause similar symptoms. Some STIs may also cause urinary symptoms but usually with other symptoms too such as rash or vaginal discharge.

“Sometimes a bladder infection can pass from the bladder up to the kidneys and cause a kidney infection. This is a more serious illness with a risk of damage to the kidneys.

“Pregnant woman have reduced immunity and the risk of ascending infection to the kidneys is slightly higher. It is important to check with your doctor or midwife if you think you have a urine infection. A dipstick test of your urine can help to identify if you have an infection. Sometimes a urine sample is sent to the lab for further analysis.”

Cystitis Treatment

“In my opinion, if you think you may have cystitis, drink lots of fluids. Although it may hurt to pass urine and your instinct may be to avoid drinking so as not to need to pee… this is the wrong thing to do. Increasing your fluid intake may help to flush the in infection from your bladder and diluting the urine may make it less painful to pass.

“Some doctors however think that increasing fluid intake doesn’t help. I think it is worth trying.

“Simple painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen may also help.

“There are over the counter products which help relieve the pain on passing urine. They are soothing or change the acidity of the bladder to make it more comfortable. Cranberry juice is also popular as many people find it soothing. If drinking fluids doesn’t settle your symptoms then a short course of antibiotics is often necessary. Pregnant woman should not wait if they experience symptoms but seek advice straight away.

Can Cystitis be Prevented?

“Keeping a good fluid intake will help.

“Passing urine after intercourse may also help prevent infections.”

Women’s Health on Cystitis

Read the full article on Women’s Health at: http://www.womenshealthmag.co.uk/health/female-health/7636/cystitis/.

Dr Kathrine O’Brien

Dr Kath O’Brien is available to provide expert comment and advises the media on a range of health and medical issues. She is a highly experienced GP with a Diploma of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, having spent her earlier career in hospital medicine.  Her special interests include women’s health, adult medicine and psychotherapy.

➡ Dr Kathrine O’Brien

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