Most of us have been there. Excruciating pain, needing to pee every 25 seconds, not being able to sit still or concentrate on anything? Yep, that sounds like cystitis, one of the many, mundanely tedious things about being a woman. Yay.
The internet is brimming with inaccuracies and urban myths surrounding how you get cystitis, what can cure it and what makes it worse. In an attempt to clear the slate and make midnight googling a little more helpful, here is a list of facts you should know about cystitis. Hopefully we can dispel a few myths at the same time.
- There are plenty of ways you can get cystitis (unfortunately) and it’s an incorrect fact that you only get cystitis from sex. Bacterial cystitis is caused by a build up of bacteria (often E-coli) in the bladder wall. Non-bacterial cystitis is caused by bruising or irritation (anything from sex, to cycling, to swimming and dehydration can set it off).
- Cranberry extract can help prevent (not necessarily cure) bacterial cystitis. But before you dash out and stockpile cartons of cranberry juice… many cranberry drinks contain enormous amounts of sugar, which encourages the bad bacterial growth in your bladder. If you’re drinking cranberry juice, make sure it’s sugar free or switch to supplements.
- Cranberry supplements are great for staving off cystitis because cranberries contain an antioxidant called proanthocyanidins (aka PAC’s for short). PAC’s help to dissuade bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall, where it could cause infection. Look for a cranberry supplement with a high PAC content rather than just a high cranberry content.
- Don’t try to be brave. You can’t always cure it naturally and in fact sometimes it’s more risky to try. ‘You should never substitute cranberry supplements for antibiotics’ warns Shabir Daya MRPharmS and Co-Founder of VictoriaHealth.com. ‘The reason is that cystitis, if left unchecked, can lead to serious kidney infection.’ Not fun. Trust us, if you thought cystitis was painful, then you're not going to like a kidney infection…
- Sometimes the NHS dipstick tests aren’t sensitive enough and may not pick up your infection. If you get turned away the on your first visit and your symptoms don’t go away, then always go in for a second opinion.
- Try adding extra garlic to your food, it’s brilliant at fighting infections.
- As much as you’ll be craving them, avoid sugary foods and refined carbohydrates like white flour and pastries – again grains will get converted into sugar, which feed the bad bacteria in the bladder.
- Coffee and tea are off limits because they are acid producing, which can contribute to irritation derived non bacterial cystitis or just make your cystitis worse. The same goes for spicy foods and undiluted fruit juices.
- Get in the bath! Hot water will relax the muscles that are spasming around your lower abdomen.
Disclaimer: This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment – if you think you have cystitis then you should definitely go visit your local GP. Hope you feel better soon!