Inﬂammation of the URINARY BLADDER. The presenting symptom is usually dysuria – that is, a feeling of discomfort when urine is passed and frequently a stinging or burning pain in the URETHRA. There is also a feeling of wanting to pass water much more often than usual, even though there is very little urine present when the act is performed. The condition may be associated with a dragging ache in the lower abdomen, and the urine usually looks dark or stronger than normal. It is frequently associated with haematuria, which means blood in the urine and is the result of the inﬂammation.
Cystitis is a common problem; more than half the women in Britain suﬀer from it at some time in their lives. The cause of the disease is a bacterial infection of the bladder, the germs having entered the urethra and ascended into the bladder. The most common organism responsible is called Escherichia coli. This organism normally lives in the bowel where it causes no harm. It is therefore likely to be present on the skin around the anus so that there is always a potential for infection. The disease is much more common in women because the urethra, vagina and anus are very close together and the urethra is much shorter in the female than it is in the male. It also explains why women commonly suﬀer cystitis after sexual intercourse and honeymoon cystitis is a very common presentation of bladder inﬂammation. In most cases the inﬂammation is more of a nuisance than a danger but the infection can spread up to the kidneys and cause PYELITIS which is a much more serious disorder.
In cases of cystitis the urine should be cultured to grow the responsible organism. The relevant antibiotic can then be prescribed. Fluids should be taken freely not only for an acute attack of cystitis but also to prevent further attacks, because if the urine is dilute the organism is less likely to grow. Bicarbonate of soda is also helpful as this reduces the acidity of the urine and helps to relieve the burning pain, and inhibits the growth of the bacteria. Careful hygiene, in order to keep the PERINEUM clean, is also important. (See URINARY BLADDER, DISEASES OF.)