Cystitis or urinary tract infection, which is the correct term?
Perhaps the most appropriate term is lower urinary tract infection because it is not the cold or sitting on a cold surface that causes inflammation of the bladder or urethra, not even the cold waters of a sea or lake.
How does a urinary tract infection develop?
The cause of urinary tract infection in women is the shortness of the urethra, which allows pathogens on our skin to easily enter the bladder. Normally, these are discharged at the next urination.
But if a pathogen (most commonly a bacterium such as E. coli) still reaches the mucous membranes or the connective tissue beneath it, then the typical symptoms occur.
What are these symptoms?
It is primarily frequent, painful urination, followed by intensifying pain, and feeling that you need to urinate more frequently, but it may also be characteristic that you need to frequently pass small amounts of urine. In such cases, the burning, painful sensations persist even after urination because the folds of the inflamed mucous membrane intertwine in an empty bladder, which causes pain. Sometimes the urine will be cloudy with a bad smell. If we still haven't gone to the doctor, bloody urine may follow and fever may occur, and by this point the sufferer will really need to see a doctor.
In such cases, it is worthwhile to perform a urine test, together with urine culture if possible, because we could find out what pathogen is behind the complaints, so there is a possibility of targeted treatment. We cannot always wait for the results of a bacteriological examination in the case of a multi-day lower urinary tract disease, but it is necessary to know what is causing the complaint.
Are there any predisposing factors or circumstances?
- The female urethra is not long, and the active closing function is even shorter. This makes it easier for pathogens to enter the urethra and bladder.
- Around the time of the menopause, the urethral mucosa becomes thinner, making it even easier for pathogens to enter the bladder.
- In old age, the uterine ligaments become more lax, and hence the position of the bladder will be different, so infection will be easier in this case.
What are the dangers?
If the infection spreads from the lower urinary tract (urethra, bladder) to the upper urinary tract (renal duct = ureter, and renal pelvis, kidney). This is a serious condition, and the help of a urologist is needed for recovery.
In so far as the complaint recurs, what sustains the infection needs to be clarified. It may be a rare pathogen (chlamydia, Ureaplasma, fungal infection, etc.) or an organ abnormality, or there may be a central point, or foci (laryngeal, dental, colon, genital, etc.) where the recurrent disease develops.
What can we do if symptoms occur?
In mild cases, taking anti-inflammatory medicine and drinking plenty of fluids may be enough to stop its development. There are medications that are effective within a day or two, but if these are not enough, I would recommend an appointment with a specialist.