Women over 65 are more likely to suffer from cystitis than any other group.
Symptoms can include: cloudy, bloody or smelly urine; frequent or urgent need to pee, and pain or burning when you do; feeling of pressure in the abdomen; mild fever; shaking or chills.
Here’s what to do when one strikes…
‘If left undiagnosed and untreated, cystitis can become serious,’ says gynaecologist Dr Tania Adib.
‘If cystitis continues, the infection can go into the kidneys, causing loin pain and fever’.
For mild infections, try drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry capsules, because the ingredients in cranberries can make it more difficult for bacteria to stick to the bladder wall.
To ease the symptoms, try over-the-counter relief such as CanesOasis Cystitis Relief, £5.49 from Boots.
‘Taking sachets containing sodium or potassium citrate will increase the pH of the urine, which helps alleviate the symptoms, especially the stinging pain experienced when urinating,’ says Dr Adib.
‘Often cystitis is just inflammation of the bladder and not a full-blown infection.’
But keep an eye on symptoms and be ready to head to your GP.
2. Drink, drink, drink
‘Dehydration makes the urine more concentrated which can irritate the urethra and make passing urine more painful,’ says Dr Adib.
The body is made up of 75% water, so it is important to stay well hydrated.
You should aim to drink at least eight glasses of water each day, and go to the toilet often to flush the bacteria away from the bladder.
‘Not going to the toilet frequently or not emptying the bladder fully, and wiping from back to front can make you more prone to urine infections,’ adds Dr Adib.
3. Wear the right knickers
Bacteria thrives in warm moist environments.
‘Wearing underwear that’s too tight can trap moisture in the intimate areas and allow infections to take hold,’ says Dr Adib.
‘Cotton knickers are best for your gynaecological health, because many synthetic fibres contain harsh chemicals that can be very irritating to the vulva. If you feel comfortable doing so, stop wearing knickers at night.’
Recurrent cystitis in later life
You might think that urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a young person’s affliction but there are a few reasons that they become more common with age.
A major one is a weakened pelvic floor preventing the bladder from emptying fully.
Being less mobile is another key cause because of the decreased trips to the loo, and diabetes – which becomes more common as you age – is also linked to higher rates of infection. Probably the biggest cause is a lowered immune system.
‘As you get older your immune response changes; it’s part of normal ageing,’ says Anna Treinkman, a nurse practitioner at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.
‘But symptoms of a UTI can be different in older people, because the body may not be able to mount a significant response to the infection.’
This means you may not feel pain urinating or want to go to the bathroom more often, but instead may feel agitated, confused, dizzy or have hallucinations.
You may also lose coordination and fall. For these reasons, an infection is often confused with the early symptoms of dementia.
■ Take care: Although the UTI itself is not serious, it can spread to the kidneys if left untreated. In older adults, more than half the cases of the blood infection urosepsis are caused by a UTI. If you suspect a UTI in yourself or a loved one, see your GP as soon as you can.
Get checked out
If the UTI keeps coming back, or your symptoms persist, get checked out by your GP, because some of the symptoms could be masking a more serious condition such as…
1. Ovarian cancer
‘One of the symptoms of ovarian cancer is needing to pass urine more often, and urgency, which means you have to go to the toilet straight away,’ says Dr Adib.
Other symptoms are persistent abdominal pain, persistent bloating, and feeling full more quickly.
2. Type 2 diabetes
‘Some women with diabetes can be more prone to bladder infections, due to poor sugar control, impaired immunity and incomplete emptying of the bladder,’ says Dr Adib. If you think you might have diabetes, LloydsPharmacy offer free Type 2 diabetes testing in their stores nationwide.
3. Bacterial vaginosis and thrush
These infections can show similar symptoms to cystitis, such as pain when passing urine and soreness, as well as itching around the vulva and an unusual discharge.
A self test like Canestest, £8.99 from Superdrug, takes 10 seconds to help determine if you’re suffering with thrush or BV.
– Dr Tania Adib is working with Caneston. For more information – CLICK HERE