Just like any other disease name that ends with the suffix "-itis", cystitis is an inflammation. In this case, cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder. Technically, the bladder itself cannot become inflamed, but the tissues that surround it can easily suffer structural and morphological chances. This translates into that swollen and permanently blotted feeling that a cystitis patient gets whenever he or she suffers through a crisis. There are so many cystitis causes out there, that they have become the most popular criterion for classification of cystitis. Basically, once a new cystitis cause is discovered, a new pathology is developed, alongside with a new set of cystitis symptoms and a new cystitis treatment scheme.
At the moment, there are no less than five major types of cystitis, each of them described in great detail in the appropriate medical textbooks. However, for the purpose of this article, the descriptions will be suitable for the knowledge level of the general public. Therefore, here are the five cystitis types, accompanied by some cystitis pictures:
- Traumatic cystitis: this type of cystitis is most common in women who have suffered through some sort of traumatism. Usually, after an extremely forceful sexual intercourse, the woman will report typical cystitis symptoms. Basically, since the bladder is situated extremely close to the female reproductive system, if the partner is not careful, he can bruise the outer layers of the bladder fairly easy. Of course, in this case, the inner walls of the vagina are even more bruised and the intercourse becomes less than pleasant for the woman. In general, this type of cystitis is reported in rape victims. It is known that traumatic cystitis is followed closely by bacterial cystitis: some bacterium, usually from the colon, goes through small ruptures in the urethra and penetrates the bladder walls. Again, these ruptures are due to the forcefulness of the sexual act.
- Interstitial cystitis (IC): in this case, the cystitis is more or less permanent and it does not have a bacterial cause. Actually, no one really knows what the cause of interstitial cystitis is. Some specialists claim that the cause is autoimmune: basically, the body's immune system does not recognize the bladder as part of the body and attacks it, considering it an intruder. Unfortunately, just like any other autoimmune disease out there, it is thought to be incurable. Fortunately, its manifestations can be easily tamed to a normal and bearable level. The downside to that rather interesting idea is that it cannot be proven. At least, not right now. Practically, the cystitis treatment that includes autoimmune suppressors does not work. Also, the viral or bacterial cause is eliminated, since both antiviral drugs and antibiotics are of no use. The bruising that is present on all of the interstitial cystitis pictures is permanent and the patient is forced to live with cystitis symptoms his or her entire life.
- Eosinophilic cystitis: one of the rarest forms of cystitis out there, eosinophilic cystitis is diagnosed only by biopsy. That does not make it malignant, it simply means that it is immune to almost all forms of medical diagnosis. Essentially, the patient presents with cystitis symptoms, but no classic investigative methods can prove the diagnosis. Its cause is mostly still a mystery, but some postulate that it is a sub - type of interstitial cystitis. However, it has some very specific physical manifestations: it affects only children that have undergone some serious treatment, with highly toxic drugs (usually, children that have suffered through two or three chemotherapy rounds manifest eosinophilic cystitis symptoms) and it has been discovered that eosinophils (white blood cells) are able to penetrate the bladder wall and enter inside it. Nobody knows how that can be possible.
- Hemorrhagic cystitis: this time, the name does paint an accurate picture. Patients who suffer from hemorrhagic cystitis have red urine. Essentially, these people urinate blood. Fortunately, this type of cystitis is easily controlled and has a definitive cause: medication. Usually, cancer patients suffer from it. Once the medication is stopped, the bladder walls recuperate from the damage and the loss of blood is no longer a problem. One of the most important hemorrhagic cystitis is radiation cystitis. It appears right after a course or radiation treatment and it lasts for the entirety of the chemotherapy sessions.
- Bacterial cystitis: this one is limited to sexually active women. The most common bacteria that affect women are E. coli and Staphylococcus saprophyticus. After the right course of treatment, the cystitis will be cured.
...see more Cystitis pictures: Cystitis pictures
Since it is practically impossible to treat cystitis without determining what type of cystitis is the patient suffering from, the cystitis diagnosis process is very important. Of course, any diagnosis begins with a list of symptoms. In the case of this disease, the most telling cystitis symptoms are:
- Pressure in the lower pelvic area: once the bladder starts to inflate, the pressure becomes a normal consequence. The lower pelvic area does not tend to enlarge easily and the pressure increases by the day, until it becomes unbearable if the disease is not treated accordingly.
- Painful urination (dysuria): due to the swelling of the bladder, the urine flow finds it difficult to exit the body. The urethra is practically blocked and unblocking it is a dangerous and very painful process.
- Frequent urination or urgent need to urinate: when a patient suffers from cystitis, his or her bladder cannot hold the same amount of urine as a healthy bladder can. This leads to frequent urination or to the sudden need to urinate. Unfortunately, until the cystitis is cured or, at least, alleviated, there is nothing to be done for this desire to urinate frequently.
- Need to urinate at night (nocturia): usually, only pregnant women or men with prostrate problems are supposed to need to urinate at night. However, if the patient starts to present with nocturia without any apparent reason, then cystitis might be the cause.
- Abnormal urine color: if the color or the consistency of the urine is in any way modified, the patient must contact their attending physician immediately. Cystitis is one of the many urinary tract problems that present with that particular symptom and is one of the easiest to deal with.
- Foul or strong urine odor: only bacteria can modify the smell of the urine or intensify it. Therefore, the person requires a course of antibiotic drugs, prescribed by their medical doctor.
After the diagnosis has been set and the treatment scheme has been established, all that the patient has to do is follow it to the letter. In the cases of cystitis that can be cured through medication, the treatment lasts two or three weeks. For the incurable cystitis, the interruption of treatment means that the symptoms will be back in full force.