Cystitis is a common type of lower urinary tract infection (UTI) which is characterized by the inflammation of the bladder, the muscular bag in which the urine is stored inside the body. The condition is painful and annoying, but it is neither contagious nor dangerous.
Cystitis is caused due to bacterial infection by the E. coli (Escherichia coli) bacterium which lives in the bowel but does not generally cause any harm. The condition occurs when the bacteria travel down the urethra — the tube through which the urine is eliminated from the body — and infect the urine; thereby resulting in the inflammation of the lining of the bladder.
Cystitis mainly affects women, and it is believed that most women experience it at least once in their lifetime. Though the condition can also affect men and children, the risk is low for men because they have longer urethras, due to which bacteria have to travel a longer distance in the urinary tract to reach the bladder.
The causes of Cystitis include poor hygiene, sexual intercourse, diabetes, pregnancy, menopause, certain contraceptive measures, an enlarged prostate, kidney/bladder stones, and abnormalities in the structure of the urinary tract.
Some of the common symptoms of Cystitis are a strong/persistent desire to urinate, pain or discomfort while urinating, passing small amounts of urine frequently, dark or strong-smelling urine, pain in lower abdomen, pelvic discomfort, fever, fatigue, and blood in the urine (hematuria).
Cystitis: Ayurvedic Perspective
- According to Ayurveda, the occurrence of Cystitis is linked to the aggravation of the body’s Vata and Pitta doshas. The condition commonly involves the Apana vata, which is a sub-dosha of Vata.The location of Apana vata in the body is the lower pelvic region, and its function is to eliminate urine, menstrual blood, stool, and reproductive fluids from the body.
- The aggravated Vata dosha in Cystitis causes pain to the affected individuals, while the aggravated Pitta dosha cause a burning sensation during urination.
- The diagnosis of Cystitis by Ayurveda practitioners is referred to as ‘Ushna Vata.’ The condition occurs when certain toxins are produced because of the aggravated Vata and Pitta doshas, and these toxins are accumulated in the urethra, bladder, pelvic region, and anal region.
- The Ayurvedic treatment of Cystitis focuses on internal detoxification of the body to remove the infection, clearing of the blockages in the urinary tract, and the use of herbs for normalizing the functioning of Apana vata and strengthening the kidneys.
Best Home Remedies for Cystitis
Mild cases of Cystitis generally do not require any treatment because the condition clears up on its own in 4-5 days. However, in severe cases, medical treatment is required. There are some time-tested home remedies which can be very beneficial in managing mild Cystitis in a natural manner, without any specific treatment. The best home remedies/measures for Cystitis are
1. Good Hygiene and Frequent Urination
- To manage Cystitis and other common UTIs naturally, it is important to follow good hygiene habits and urinate frequently. This can prevent the multiplication of bacteria because urine is not allowed to rest in the bladder for a long period.
- In addition, the bladder should be emptied completely while urinating, and a ‘front to back’ wiping of the anal region should be done by women after urination, so that germs are not transferred to the opening of the urethra.
2. Increased Fluid Intake
Drinking plenty of water and other fluids is also an excellent home remedy for Cystitis. Fluids keep the body hydrated, increase the output of urine, and lower the chances of UTIs by flushing the bacteria out of the bladder.
3. Increased Intake of Vitamin C
The intake of fruits and vegetables which contain Vitamin C — like oranges, grapefruit, kiwifruit, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, and red peppers — can also be helpful in managing Cystitis. These foods offer natural protection against UTIs as they have the ability to increase the acidity of the urine, and destroy the infection-causing bacteria.
4. Cranberry Juice
Another proven home remedy for managing Cystitis is to drink unsweetened cranberry juice. Cranberries have the ability to prevent and manage UTIs because they can prevent the bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract. Women affected by Cystitis should ideally consume 240-ml of cranberry juice daily, for around two months, in order to prevent recurrent infections of the urinary tract.
5. Intake of Probiotics
The consumption of Probiotics can also provide relief in Cystitis because Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms which are capable of promoting a healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines. Yogurt is one of the most common sources of probiotics.
6. Use of Heating Pad’s
Heating pads or hot water bottles can be helpful in managing the pain and other discomforting symptoms of Cystitis. The use of heating pads transmits low heat across the abdominal region and alleviates the pain experienced during bladder infections.
7. Warm Bath’s
Taking warm baths can also be beneficial in managing Cystitis in a natural way because a warm bath can soothe the pain linked to the inflammatory bladder condition. However, it is advisable to take a shower rather than taking a tub bath, because bathing in a tub can potentially increase the chances of infections.
8. Avoid Acidic Foods and Drink’s
The consumption of acidic foods and drinks should be avoided because they can worsen Cystitis and other infections of the urinary tract. Excessive intake of acidic foods and drinks can particularly aggravate the burning sensation while urinating.
9. Dress Appropriately
Women affected by Cystitis should avoid wearing tight clothes, especially tight jeans. Inappropriate clothes can trap moisture in the delicate parts of the body, thereby providing a breeding ground for vaginal bacteria.
In addition to the above-mentioned home remedies for managing Cystitis, it is also important for people affected by the condition to keep a few other important things in mind. These things include
- Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water daily
- Wear clean undergarments made of cotton fabric
- Change the undergarments every day
- Urinate before and after sexual intercourse
- Do not drink alcohol, coffee, citrus juices or sugary drinks
- Do not hold urine for too long
- Do not use vaginal sprays, deodorants, perfumed soaps, and feminine products like douches in the genital area
- Consult an expert Ayurveda practitioner in case of severe or recurrent UTIs.