Cystitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Variations

Cystitis is a urinary tract infection that causes inflammation in the bladder. While this is common among women, it can also develop in men. It’s highly treatable, but it is essential to seek medical treatment right away. Here’s what you should know.

8 minute read

Last Updated July 14, 2020

What is Cystitis? - Men's Health - 1MD

Cystitis is a urinary tract infection where the bladder becomes inflamed and swollen. It can occur when the bacteria in your body become unbalanced, allowing for an infection to develop, which then causes inflammation. 

Cystitis is not always caused by an infection, as medications and the use of certain hygiene products can also be contributing factors. Cystitis is more common among women, but it can develop in men too.

Cystitis can be more severe in men because it can be caused by more serious conditions. Beyond bacterial infections, cystitis in men can be caused by diabetes, a blockage in the urinary tract, or prostate infection.

Cystitis Causes

There are different types of cystitis, and recognizing the type you have would happen once the cause is diagnosed. The possible causes for cystitis include:

♦ Taking certain drugs
♦ A urinary tract infection
♦ Ongoing use of a catheter
♦ Irritating hygiene products
♦ Exposure to radiation 

The anatomy of the male reproductive system provides some protection from cystitis. The anus and urethra in women are close together, allowing for more potential infection. The longer urethra of men means bacteria have to travel much further to reach the bladder. 

Certain factors increase the risk of cystitis for men.

♦ Sexual activity
♦ Using urinary catheters
♦ Being diabetic
♦ Having an enlarged prostate
♦ Conditions that compromise the immune systems, such as HIV
♦ Bladder stones
♦ Holding urine for long periods of time

Cystitis Symptoms

The symptoms of cystitis in men include:

A frequent need to urinate
♦ An urge to urinate after you have emptied your bladder
♦ Tingling or burning during urination
Difficulty urinating

The symptoms of cystitis include:

♦ A frequent need to urinate
♦ An urge to urinate after you have emptied your bladder
♦ Pain during intercourse
♦ Cramps in your abdomen and back
♦ Cloudy or strong-smelling urine
♦ Blood in your urine

If cystitis is caused by an infection, and it spreads to your kidneys, you can also experience severe symptoms, including nausea, vomiting chills, and severe back or side pain.  

Cystitis can also be a symptom of a serious medical condition, such as:

♦ Kidney stones
♦ Diabetes
♦ HIV
♦ Enlarged prostate

Cystitis Diagnosis

A urine sample is often required to diagnose cystitis, as this can identify the cause of cystitis. Your doctor can also perform a cystoscopy, which is where a thin tube and camera is used to collect a sample of bladder tissue. 

Imaging tests can also be done, but they are not usually necessary. In some cases, they can be useful in ruling out specific causes for cystitis, such as a tumor or structural abnormality. 

Treatment for Cystitis

With infection being the most common cause of cystitis, antibiotics are the most common treatment approach. In cases of interstitial or chronic cystitis, the treatment will depend on the cause. 

Only in some cases can surgery be used to treat cystitis, and this is usually reserved for severe chronic cases only. Surgery is not a doctor’s first choice for treating cystitis, but it can repair damaged tissue when long-term cystitis has caused significant damage to the bladder. 

Cystitis Diet

Cystitis cannot always be cured, but it can be treated and sometimes with the right diet. What you eat can help manage flare-ups and prevent discomfort. 

There are a number of anti-inflammatory foods that are proven to be beneficial for those diagnosed with interstitial cystitis.

♦ Fresh fruit such as berries, bananas, apples, and pears
♦ Vegetables such as avocado, green beans, cucumbers, celery, and beans
♦ Some dairy such as cheese, eggs, and milk

Foods to avoid when you have cystitis include onions, tomato products, processed foods, alcohol, strawberries, kiwi fruit, pineapples, and caffeinated beverages.

Men can also benefit from adding probiotics to their diet. Probiotics support the immune system and can prevent bacterial infections. By reducing the chance of urinary tract infections, the risk of inflammation and cystitis is also reduced.

Natural Treatments for Cystitis

Common home remedies to ease discomfort associated with cystitis can include:

♦ Over-the-counter pain relievers
♦ Sitz baths to cleanse the pelvic area
♦ If you use soap to cleanse your genital area, make sure it is unscented
♦ Application of heating pads to the affected area
♦ Not using colognes and fragrances near the penis
♦ Stay hydrated
♦ Urinate after sexual activity to wash away any bacteria

Nerve stimulation can also reduce the frequent need to urinate and can also relieve pelvic pain. 

What are the Variations of Cystitis?

Cystitis can either be acute, which is when it occurs suddenly, or chronic, which is when it is experienced for long periods of time. It can also affect several layers of the bladder tissue. 

The types of cystitis depend on the cause and include:

Bacterial cystitis: When bacteria naturally growing in your body become unbalanced, bacteria can enter the urethra or the bladder, causing an infection. This type of cystitis needs immediate treatment to prevent the infection from spreading and causing a more serious issue like a kidney infection. 

♦ Chemical cystitis: Certain hygiene products such as spermicidal jellies, hygiene sprays, and bubble bath chemicals can cause irritation to the bladder. 

Drug-induced cystitis: As medications pass through your body, they exit through the urinary tract. Certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, can irritate the bladder as they exit. 

♦ Radiation cystitis: When cancer is treated with radiation therapy, healthy cells and tissues can also become damaged. When radiation occurs in the pelvic area, the bladder can become inflamed.

Cystitis Statistics

♦ Between 1 and 4 million have interstitial (chronic) cystitis.
♦ Approximately 41 new cases out of every 100,000 men are diagnosed each year.
♦ Severe cystitis can have you going to the bathroom every 10 to 15 minutes.
♦ 95 percent of cases report tenderness in the bladder area as the first symptom

Cystitis and Surgery

Surgery is a last resort for patients with cystitis and is only done in cases where severe damage has been done to the bladder. Bladder surgery is invasive and irreversible, so all other treatment options are tried before surgery will be considered. 

In surgical procedures, part of the bladder can be removed, and urinary diversions are constructed. The risk for infections after surgery is high, as are metabolic disturbances and kidney damage. 

What Is the Long-Term Outlook?

Men can develop cystitis as a result of infections. Most commonly, the cause is STIs. Practicing safe sexual practices is the only way to avoid contracting these infections.

Depending on the symptoms of cystitis, the outlook will vary. In most cases, cystitis is successfully treated, and long-term complications are avoided. 

It is important to seek medical treatment right away, as the best outcomes depend on early diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause. Should you notice any symptoms of cystitis, contact your doctor right away.

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