Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are becoming an increasing problem, and can lead to debilitating urinary symptoms.
Cystitis, bladder infections or bacterial infections of the urine / lower urinary tract are predominantly caused by E.coli bacteria which originate from the intestine.
The human body has a number of natural protective mechanisms to try to prevent the urinary bladder becoming infected. The 3 most important ones are:
- External colonisation of 'good' bacteria usually lactobacillus, which helps keep the E.coli away from the urinary tract.
- Good urine output from the kidneys. A continual flushing / emptying of the bladder expel many bacteria from the bladder.
- A "non-stick" lining of the bladder, called the GAG layer, which prevents any harmful bacteria "sticking" to the lining prior to being flushed away when the bladder is emptied.
If the bladder is exposed to a prolonged or particularly irritative infection then the bladder can become very inflamed. This not only removes the protective "non-stick" lining from the bladder but can also cause quite marked pain, stinging on urination, bladder spasms, frequency and urgency of urination. It can also increase the likelihood of getting another infection soon afterwards, setting up a vicious cycle.
To investigate further the following tests may be required:
- Urodynamic flow assessment
- Post micturition bladder volume scan assessment
- Urine microscopy and culture
- Blood tests
- Cytology urine tests to exclude cancer
- Renal tract ultrasound scan
- Cystoscopic assessment of the bladder