Cystitis in women
What is cystitis?
Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder. There are two main types. The only sure way to tell the difference is by a urine test.
- One theory is that a substance called glycosaminoglycan is deficient in the bladder. This substance is part of the slimy layer that covers and protects the lining of the bladder.
- Another theory is that it is a type of allergy, because cells common in allergy (mast cells) are present in the bladder wall in interstitial cystitis.
Symptoms of cystitis
- a burning, stinging or aching pain when you pass urine
- a need to pass water very frequently, often only a small amount each time
- bloody or cloudy urine (severe cystitis).
- blood (or a smoky appearance) in the urine
- backache or stomach ache
- fever and weakness.
What else could I have?
Not all urine problems are cystitis. For example:
- if you have soreness or itching around the opening of the urethra (pee hole) you might have a herpes infection, thrush or a chlamydia infection
- if your only problem is having to pass urine frequently, you might have diabetes (especially if you are thirsty all the time), so see your doctor
- if your main problem is having to rush to the toilet, you may have a continence problem.
Written by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Edited by: Dr Margaret Stearn
Last updated: Friday, February 1st 2013
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Cystitis in women
- Cystitis in women: what you can do
- Cystitis in women: what your doctor can do
- Cystitis in women: preventing further attacks
- Cystitis in men
- Genital infections
- Menopause - a guide to symptoms
- Smooth riding the menopause
- Doc Spot - Chlamydia screening
- Doc Spot - Sexually transmitted infection
- Doc Spot - Strange urine
- Dr Phil - Chlamydia (video)
- Dr Phil - Genital infections
Every year, 1–3 women out of 10 have an attack of cystitis
At any time, about 1 in 20 healthy women has bacteria in her bladder, without any symptoms. Only 10% of these progress to cystitis symptoms
In the USA, over 11 million women each year receive antibiotics for cystitis, costing over $1.6 billion (£1100 million)
In the UK, doctors write 5.5 million prescriptions for cystitis each year