Posts Tagged ‘cystitis’

Urinary Infections In Women

September 12, 2015

Andrew Siegel, MD    9/12/2015

shutterstock_femalebluepelvic

Bladder infections (a.k.a., cystitis) are common among women. Acute cystitis is a bladder infection that typically causes the following symptoms: pain/burning, frequent urination, and urinary urgency (“gotta go”). Additional symptoms that may occur are the following: urinating small volumes, bleeding and urinary incontinence (leakage). Microscopic inspection of urine usually shows bacteria, white blood cells and red blood cells.  80-90% of cystitis is caused by Escherichia coli, 5-15% by Staphylococcus and the remainder by less common bacteria including Klebsiella, Proteus, and Enterococcus.

The occasional occurrence of cystitis is a nuisance and oftentimes uncomfortable, but is usually easily treated with a short course of oral antibiotics. When bladder infections recur time and again, it becomes a major source of inconvenience and suffering for the patient and it becomes important to fully investigate the source of the recurrence.

Bladder infections occur when bacteria gain access to the urinary bladder, which normally does not have bacteria present. The short female urethra and the proximity of the urethra to the vagina and anus are factors that predispose to cystitis.

For an infection to develop, the vagina and urethra usually have to be colonized with the type of bacteria that can cause an infection (not the normal healthy bacteria that reside in the vagina), these bacteria must ascend into the bladder, and these bacterial must latch onto bladder cells.

Offense and Defense

Whether or not an infection develops is based upon the interaction of protective mechanisms (“defense”) and bacterial factors (“offense”). “Defense” factors include the following:

  • An acidic vagina, which inhibits the growth of infection-causing bacteria while promoting the growth of “good” bacteria such as lactobacilli
  • The unique layer that protects the bladder lining
  • Immune cells in the urine that prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder cells
  • The dilution action of urine production and the flushing effect of urinating

Bacterial “offense” factors include in following:

  •  Tentacle-like structures that promote the attachment of bacteria to bladder cells
  • The capability of bacteria to evolve and develop resistance to antibiotics

Bladder Infections in Young Women

Women aged 18-24 years old have the greatest prevalence of bladder infections and sex is usually a key factor, hence the term “honeymoon cystitis.”

The following are risk factors for bladder infections:

  • A new sexual partner
  • Recent sexual intercourse
  • Frequent sexual intercourse
  • Spermicides, diaphragms and spermicide-coated condoms (which can increase vaginal and urethral colonization with E. Coli)

Bladder Infections in Older Women

Cystitis is common after menopause, based upon the following factors:

  • Female hormone (estrogen) deficiency, which causes a change in the bacterial flora of the vagina such that EColi replaces Lactobacilli
  • Age-related decline in immunity
  • Incomplete bladder emptying
  • Urinary and fecal leakage (incontinence), often managed with pads, which remain moist and contaminated and can promote movement of bacteria from the anal area towards the urethra
  • Diabetes (particularly when poorly controlled, with high levels of glucose in the urine that can be thought of as “fertilizer” for bacteria)
  • Neurological diseases that impair emptying or cause incontinence
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Obesity
  • Poor hygiene

Complicated Infections

A urinary infection is considered complicated if:

  • It involves the upper urinary tracts (kidneys)
  • You are pregnant
  • Bacteria are resistant to antibiotics
  • There is a structural abnormality of the urinary tract
  • It occurs in immune-compromised patients including diabetics
  • It occurs in the presence of a foreign body such as a urinary catheter or stone

If It’s Not an Infection, What Is It?

It is important to distinguish a symptomatic urinary infection from asymptomatic bacteriuria, urethritis, vaginitis, and Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS)/Interstitial Cystitis (IC).

  • Asymptomatic bacteriuria, common in elderly and diabetics, is the presence of bacteria within the bladder without causing an infection. This does not require treatment, which is futile and promotes selection of resistant bacteria. It should be treated only in pregnant women, in patients undergoing urological-gynecological surgical procedures, and in those undergoing prosthetic surgery (total knee replacement, etc.).
  • Urethritis is an infection in the urethra
  • Vaginitis is a vaginal infection
  • PBS/IC is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder that can mimic the symptoms of cystitis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnosis of cystitis is by urinalysis and culture. A urine specimen is obtained after cleansing the vaginal area and collection of a mid-stream specimen. At times, catheterization is necessary to obtain a specimen. Dipstick is the fastest and least expensive means of screening for an infection, but it is not very accurate, whereas microscope exam is much more accurate. The definitive test is urine culture and sensitivity, which will demonstrate the type of bacteria, the quantitative count, and those antibiotics that are most likely to be effective.

Treatment is antibiotics to eradicate the bacteria. In the case of recurrent cystitis, it is important to do an evaluation to rule out a structural cause. This generally involves imaging, often an ultrasound (using sound waves to obtain an image of the urinary tract), and a cystoscopy (a visual inspection of the urethra and bladder with a flexible scope). This will check the entire urinary tract, including the kidneys and bladder. Findings may be a dropped bladder, a stone within the urinary tract, a urethral stricture (a narrowing in the channel leading out of the bladder that causes an obstruction), a urethral diverticulum (a pocket connected to the urethra), or a fistula (abnormal connection between the colon and bladder), etc.

 Antibiotic Options For Those With Recurrent Urinary Infections

  • Patient-initiated treatment: a short course of antibiotics when the symptoms first occur. It is useful to first test your urine using a dipstick (although not perfect, it is great for home screening) when the symptoms of cystitis arise. This has proven to be safe, economical and effective.
  • Sexual prophylaxis: A single dose of antibiotic just before or after sexual activity if the infections are clearly sexually related
  • Daily antibiotic prophylaxis: A single dose of antibiotic is taken on a prophylactic basis every evening or every other evening to prevent recurrent cystitis.

Pearls To Help Keep Cystitis At Bay

  • Stay well hydrated to keep the urine dilute: “The solution to pollution is dilution.”
  • Wipe in a top-to-bottom motion after urination or bowel movementsAt minimum, urinate every four hours while awake to avoid an over-distended bladder.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Urinate after sex.
  • If infections are clearly sexual related, an antibiotic taken before or right after sex can usually preempt the cystitis.
  • If you are diabetic, maintain the best glucose control possible.
  • Seek urological consultation for recurrent infections to check for an underlying and correctable structural cause.
  • Methenamine: This chemical is broken down into formaldehyde, which can kill bacteria.
  • Cranberry extract: Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins that inhibit bacteria from adhering to the bladder cells. There are formulations of cranberry extract available to avoid the high carbohydrate load of cranberry juice.
  • Probiotics such as Lactobacillus: These bacteria promote healthy colonization of the vagina, production of hydrogen peroxide that is toxic to bacteria, maintenance of acidic urine, induction of an anti-inflammatory response in bladder cells, and inhibition of attachment between bacteria and the bladder cells.
  • D-Mannose: This sugar can inhibit bacteria from adhering to the bladder cells.
  • Estrogen cream: Applied vaginally, this can help restore the normal vaginal flora as well as uro-genital tissue integrity and suppleness.
  • Vaccination: Currently in research phases, the concept is an oral vaccine or vaginal suppository capable of providing immunity against the typical strains of bacteria that cause infections.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”: www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Author of Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health: available in e-book (Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo) and paperback: www.MalePelvicFitness.com. In the works is The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health.

Co-creator of Private Gym, a comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered follow-along male pelvic floor muscle training program. Built upon the foundational work of Dr. Arnold Kegel, Private Gym empowers men to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, power, and endurance: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.

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Getting Up At Night Gets Me Down: Nighttime Urinating

May 24, 2014

Blog #155

Getting up once to relieve your bladder during sleep hours is usually not particularly troublesome. However, when it happens two or more times, it can negatively impact one’s quality of life because of sleep disruption, daytime fatigue, an increased risk of fatigue-related accidents and an increased risk of fall-related nighttime injuries. Fatigue has a negative effect on just about everything, even influencing us to mindlessly eat.

Nocturia is the medical term for the need to awaken from sleep to urinate. One’s natural response is to think urinary bladder problem and seek a consultation with a urologist, the type of doctor who specializes in the urinary system. Although nocturia manifests itself via the bladder and much of the time is a urological issue, it is often not a bladderproblem. Rather, the kidneys are frequently culprits in contributing to the condition.

The kidneys are remarkable organs that can multitask like no other. They not only filter blood to remove waste products, but are also responsible for other vital body functions: They are in charge of maintaining the proper fluid volume within our blood stream. They regulate the levels of our electrolytes including sodium, potassium, chloride, etc. They keep our blood pH (indicator of acidity) at a precise level to maintain optimal function. They are key players in the regulation of blood pressure. Furthermore—and unbeknownst to many—they are responsible for the production of several important hormones: calcitrol (calcium regulation), erythropoietin (red blood cell production), and renin (blood pressure regulation). The kidneys regulate our blood volume by concentrating or diluting our urine depending on our state of hydration. When we are over-hydrated, the kidneys dilute the urine to rid our bodies of excess fluid, resulting in virtually clear urine. When we are dehydrated, the kidneys concentrate urine to preserve our fluid volume, resulting in very concentrated urine that can look as dark as apple cider.

Nocturia correlates with aging and the associated decline in kidney function and decreased ability to concentrate urine. Although having an enlarged prostate may certainly contribute to nocturia, it is obviously much more complicated than this since women do not have prostates and nocturia is equally prevalent in men and women. As simple as getting up at night to urinate sounds, it is actually a complex condition often based upon multiple factors that require careful evaluation in order to sort out and treat appropriately. When a urology consultation is sought, our goal is to distinguish between urological and non-urological causes for nighttime urinating. It often comes down to one of three factors: nighttime urine production by the kidneys; capacity of the urinary bladder; and sleep status. In the elderly population, excessive nighttime urine production is a factor almost 90% of the time.

Nocturia can ultimately be classified into one or more of 5 categories: global polyuria (making too much urine, day and night); nocturnal polyuria (making too much urine at night); reduced bladder capacity; sleep disorders; and circadian clock disorders (problems with our bio-rhythms). Global polyuria can result from excessive fluid intake from overenthusiastic drinking or from dehydration from poorly controlled diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes). The pituitary gland within our brain manufactures an important hormone responsible for water regulation. This hormone is ADH—anti-diuretic hormone—and it works by giving the message to the kidneys to concentrate urine. Diabetes insipidus is a disease of either kidney origin—in which the kidneys do not respond to ADH—or pituitary origin—in which there is deficient secretion of ADH. In either case, lots of urine will be made, resulting in frequent urination, both daytime and nighttime. Medications including diuretics, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), calcium blockers, tetracycline and lithium may induce global polyuria.

Nocturnal polyuria may be on the basis of excessive fluid intake, especially diuretic beverages including caffeine and alcohol, a nocturnal defect in the secretion of ADH, and unresponsiveness of the kidneys to the action of ADH. Congestive heart failure, sleep apnea and kidney insufficiency may also play a role. Certain conditions result in accumulation of fluids in tissues of the body such as the legs (peripheral edema); when lying down to sleep, the fluid is no longer under the same pressures as determined by gravity, and returns to the intravascular (within the blood vessels) compartment. It is then subject to being released from the kidneys as urine. Such conditions include heart, kidney and liver impairment, nephrotic syndrome, malnutrition and venous stasis. Circadian clock disorders cause reduced ADH secretion or activity, resulting in dilute urine that causes nocturia.

Nocturia may also be caused by primary sleep disorders including insomnia, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, and arousal disorders (sleepwalking, nightmares, etc.)

There are numerous urological causes of reduced bladder capacity. Any abnormal process that occurs within the bladder can irritate its delicate lining, causing a reduced capacity: bladder infections, bladder stones, bladder cancer, bacterial cystitits, radiation cystitis, and interstitial cystitis. An overactive bladder—a bladder that “squeezes without its owner’s permission”—can cause nocturia. Some people have small bladder capacities on the basis of scarring, radiation, or other forms of damage. Prostate enlargement commonly gives rise to nocturia, as can many neurological diseases that often have profound effects on bladder function. Incomplete bladder emptying can give rise to frequent urination since the bladder is already starting out on a bias of being partially filled. This problem can occur with prostate enlargement, scar tissue in the urethra, neurologic issues, and bladder prolapse.

The principal diagnostic tool for nocturia is the frequency-volume chart (FVC), a simple test that can effectively guide diagnosis and treatment. This is a 24-hour record of the time of urination and volume of urination, requiring a clock, pencil, paper and measuring cup. Typical bladder capacity is 10–12 ounces with 4–6 urinations per day. Reduced bladder capacity is a condition in which frequent urination occurs with low bladder capacities, for example, 3–4 ounces per void. Global polyuria is a condition in which bladder volumes are full and appropriate and the frequency occurs both daytime and nighttime. Nocturnal polyuria is nocturnal urinary frequency with full and appropriate volumes, with daytime voiding patterns being normal.

Lifestyle modifications to improve nocturia include the following: preemptive voiding before bedtime, intentional nocturnal and late afternoon dehydration, salt restriction, dietary restriction of caffeine and alcohol, adjustment of medication timing, use of compression stockings with afternoon and evening leg elevation, and use of sleep medications as necessary.

Urological issues may need to be managed with medications that relax or shrink the prostate when the issue is prostate obstruction, and bladder relaxants for overactive bladder. For nocturnal polyuria, synthetic ADH (an orally disintegrating sublingual tablet) in dosages of 50-100 micrograms for men and 25 micrograms for women can be highly effective.

Bottom Line: Nocturia should be investigated to determine its cause, which may often in fact be related to conditions other than urinary tract issues. Nighttime urination is not only bothersome, but may also pose real health risks. Chronically disturbed sleep can lead to a host of collateral wellness issues.

Andrew Siegel, MD

Author of Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; available in e-book (Kindle, iBooks, Nook) and coming soon in paperback.

www.MalePelvicFitness.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:

www.healthdoc13.wordpress.com

Bladder Infections In Women

March 16, 2012

 

 Bladder infections (cystitis) are relatively common occurrences among females.  Acute uncomplicated bacterial cystitis is an infection of the bladder that can cause burning, frequency, urgency, bleeding, urinating small volumes, incontinence, and pain (abdominal, pelvic, or lower back).  Lab studies usually show bacteria, white blood cells and red blood cells in the urine. 80-90% of cystitis is caused by Escherichia coli, 5-15% by Staphylococcus and the remainder by less common pathogens including Klebsiella, Proteus, and Enterococcus.

 Cystitis occurs when bacteria that normally inhabit the colon gain access to the urinary bladder. While cystitis is common among the female population, it is rare among the male population.  Anatomical differences that promote cystitis in women are the short female urethra and the close proximity of the urethra to the vagina and anus, areas that are normally colonized with bacteria.  The occasional occurrence of cystitis—while a nuisance and oftentimes uncomfortable—is usually easily treated with a short course of antibiotics.   When bladder infections recur time and again, it becomes a major source of inconvenience and suffering for the patient, and it becomes important to fully investigate the source of the recurrence.

 A urinary infection is considered complicated under the following conditions:  if it involves the kidneys; if it occurs during pregnancy; if the bacteria are highly resistant to antibiotics; if there is a structural abnormality of the urinary tract; if it occurs in immune-compromised patients, including diabetics; in the presence of a “foreign body” such as an indwelling urinary catheter, urinary stent or urinary tract stone.

 For an infection to develop, there has to be vaginal colonization with pathogenic bacteria (bacteria that can cause an infection and not the normal healthy bacteria that reside in the vagina); movement of these bacteria into the bladder; and finally, attachment of the bacteria to the cells that line the bladder.  Whether or not an infection develops is based upon the interaction of female protective mechanisms (“defense”) and bacterial virulence factors (“offense”). “Defense” factors include an acidic vagina, which inhibits the growth of the type of bacteria that cause infections while promoting the growth of “good” bacteria such as lactobacilli; the presence of a mucopolysaccharide layerthat protects the bladder lining; and immune cells present in the urine that block the adherence of bacteria to the bladder cells.  Additionally, the dilution action of urine production and the flushing effect of urinating can wash out bacteria before they have a chance to latch on to the lining of the bladder.  Bacterial “offense” factors include fimbriae, tentacle-like structures that promote attachment to the bladder lining cells and the capability of bacteria to evolve and develop resistance to antibiotics.

  Women aged 18-24 years old have the greatest prevalence of acute uncomplicated bacterial cystitis and sexual activity often is a factor in bacteria finding their way into the urethra and bladder, hence the term “honeymoon cystitis.”  The following are risk factors for cystitis: a new sexual partner; recent sexual intercourse; the use of spermicides, diaphragms or spermicide-coated condoms. Spermicides can change the vaginal “environment” and promote the presence of different bacteria from the normal flora. Being overweight can play a role in promoting cystitis because it is more difficult to maintain good hygiene under these circumstances.

  Cystitis also occurs with increased prevalence in the post-menopausal population, based upon changes that happen because of estrogen deficiency.  As a result of low levels of estrogen, there is a change in the normal bacteria (flora) of the vagina in which E. Coli replaces lactobacilli.  Topical estrogen cream has been shown to reverse vaginal colonization with E. Coli and helps prevent cystitis.  Other factors are an age-related decline in immunity; incomplete bladder emptying; and the not uncommon occurrence of urinary and fecal incontinence often managed with pads, which remain moist and contaminated and can promote movement of bacteria from the anal area towards the urethra.  The presence of diabetes (particularly when poorly controlled, with high levels of glucose in the urine that can be thought of as “fertilizer” for bacteria), neurological diseases, pelvic organ prolapse, obesity and poor hygiene further increase the prevalence of cystitis among older women

 It is important to distinguish a symptomatic urinary infection from asymptomatic bacteriuria, urethritis, vaginitis, and Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS)/Interstitial Cystitis (IC).  Asymptomatic bacteriuria is the presence of bacteria within the bladder without causing an infection.  Asymptomatic bacteriuria does not require treatment, since treatment is most often futile and achieves nothing but selection of a resistant organism—in other words, by unnecessarily exposing bacteria to an antibiotic environment, bacteria can evolve and adapt to become modified in such a way that the antibiotic is no longer effective. Asymptomatic bacteriuria needs only to be treated in pregnant women and in patients undergoing urological-gynecological surgical procedures.  Urethritis is an infection in the urethra; vaginitis is a vaginal infection; and PBS/IC (Painful Bladder Syndrome/Interstitial Cystitis) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder that can mimic the symptoms of cystitis.

 The diagnosis of cystitis is on the basis of urinalysis and culture.  A urine specimen is obtained after cleansing of the vaginal area with an antibacterial wipeand collection of a mid-stream voided specimen. At times, catheterization is necessary to obtain a specimen.  Dipstick is the fastest and least expensive means of screening for an infection, but it is not very accurate and fraught with false positives and negatives.  Microscopy is much more accurate, seeking the presence of bacteria, white blood cells and red blood cells.  The definitive test is urine culture and sensitivity, which will demonstrate the bacteria responsible for the infection, the quantitative bacterial count, and those antibiotics that are most likely to be effective.

    Treatment of cystitis is based upon antibiotics to eradicate the bacteria. In the case of recurrent cystitis, it is important to do an evaluation to rule out a structural cause. This generally involves imaging—often an ultrasound (using sound waves to obtain an image of the urinary tract)—and a cystoscopy (a visual inspection of the urethra and bladder with a flexible scope).  This will check the entire urinary tract, including the kidneys and bladder.  Findings may be a (cystocele) dropped bladder, a stone within the urinary tract, a urethral stricture (a narrowing in the channel leading out of the bladder that causes an obstruction), a urethral diverticulum (a pocket connected to the urethra), or a fistula (abnormal connection between the colon and bladder).

    After treatment of the acute infection, it is important to make changes in order to help minimize recurrent episodes of cystitis.  After urination or a bowel movement, it is important to wipe in a top-to-bottom direction to avoid bringing bacteria from the anus up towards the urethra.  It is also important to remain well hydrated to keep the urine from becoming very concentrated:  “The solution to pollution is dilution” applies well to urinary infections.  It is important to urinate on a regular basis over the course of the day, utilizing the natural flushing effect of urination to wash out the bladder and keep it from becoming over-distended.  Many workers such as nurses and teachers do not have the time to empty their bladders during the course of their days, and they often end up predisposed to cystitis.  It is very important to urinate after sexual activity to help flush out any bacteria that may have been introduced into the urethra and the bladder.

   One option for the management of recurrent cystitis is the self-administration of a short course of antibiotics when the cystitis symptoms first occur.  It is useful to first test your urine using a dipstick (although not perfect, it is great for home screening) when the symptoms of cystitis arise. This has proven to be safe, economical and effective.  Alternatively, a single dose of antibiotic can be administered just before or after sexual activity if the infections are clearly sexually related.  Another possibility is a single dose of antibiotic administered on a prophylactic basis every evening or every other evening to prevent recurrent cystitis.  Methenamine is converted to formaldehyde in the urine and can help prevent recurrent infections. Cranberries, lingonberries, and blueberries contain proanthocyanidins that inhibit the adherence of bacteria fimbriae to the bladder cells, acting as anti-adhesives and helping to prevent bacteria from attaching onto bladder cells and causing an infection.  There are formulations of cranberry extract available to avoid the high carbohydrate load of cranberry juice.  Estrogen cream applied vaginally can help restore the normal vaginal flora and thus help prevent cystitis.  Probiotics promote healthy bacteria colonization of the vagina, production of hydrogen peroxide that is toxic to bacteria, maintenance of acidic urine, induction of an anti-inflammatory response in bladder cells, and inhibition of attachment between bacteria and the bladder cells.

   In summary, bladder infections in females are common, annoying, but rarely serious.  They are very treatable, and those who suffer with recurrent infections can be nicely managed.

                      Pearls To Help Keep Cystitis Away

  • Wipe in a top-to-bottom motion after using the bathroom
  • Stay well hydrated to keep the urine dilute
  • At minimum, urinate every four hours while awake to avoid an over-distended bladder
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Urinate after sexual activity
  • If infections are clearly sexual related, an antibiotic taken pre or post-sexually can usually preempt the cystitis
  • If you are diabetic, maintain the best control possible
  • Topical estrogen can be helpful for the post-menopausal female
  • Seek urological consultation for recurrent infections to check for an underlying and correctable structural cause; if none are found, there are a number of means of managing recurrences, including self-diagnosis/self-treatment; daily antibiotic prophylaxis; daily methenamine; cranberry extract; probiotics

Andrew Siegel, M.D.

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

www.PromiscuousEating.com

Now available on Amazon Kindle

To view my educational video on bladder infections: