Cystitis is the clinical term for bladder infection. Severe or recurring cystitis is called acute cystitis. Cystitis is one of the infections that falls under the category of urinary tract infection, a general term for any infection along the urinary tract. When bacteria such as Escherichia coli enter the urethra, the tube that empties the bladder, the bacteria travel to the bladder and cause infection. In many cases, the body is able to fight the bacteria. Symptoms of infection include pelvic pain, frequent urge to urinate, burning sensation while urinating, cloudy or foul smelling urine, pressure in lower abdomen and low-grade fever.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, cystitis is rare in men and most common in women. Women get more bladder infections because they have a shorter urethra and it's closer to the anus. Because the urethra is shorter, the bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to get to the bladder.
Sexually active women between the ages of 20 and 50 are the most prone to cystitis. There are other conditions which make a person more susceptible to developing bladder infections such as diabetes, advanced age, problems with emptying the bladder, bowel incontinence and enlarged prostate. Recurring infections are common among patients with urethral stricture. This is when the urethra is abnormally narrow due to scar tissue buildup caused by disease, surgery, or injury.
Once the bacteria enters the bladder, it must be treated with an antibiotic. The list of antibiotics for cystitis includes amoxicillin, cephalosporins, ciprofloxacin, doxycyclino and nitrofurantoin
Cranberry for Prevention
Cranberry (vaccinium macrocarpon) has been used by Native Americans to treat bladder and kidney disease. According to the University of Maryland, it is the best known preventive treatment to ward off infection caused by Escherichia coli. Cranberry apparently prevents the bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract.
Juice or Supplements
In order to prevent recurring bladder infections, cranberry juice or capsules may be taken. University of Maryland Medical Center prescribes the following: 3 oz of pure cranberry juice or 10 oz of cranberry juice cocktail daily; 6 capsules (300mg to 400mg) per day; 1.5 oz of fresh or frozen. Cranberry juice or capsules may interfere with wafarin, so be sure to always ask your doctor before adding supplements to your diet.
If a bladder infection goes untreated, it will spread into the kidneys. Therefore, it is important to treat a bladder infection as soon as possible in order to avoid a more complicated condition.