Cystitis refers to the inflammation of the bladder that is most often caused by a urinary tract infection. While these infections are more common in women, cystitis in men does occur and can potentially be very dangerous.
Continue reading to learn what causes cystitis in men, which symptoms to look out for, potential complications, diagnosis and treatment options, as well as some prevention tips to help you avoid this uncomfortable condition.
Symptoms of cystitis in men
The symptoms most often associated with cystitis in men are frequent urination, a more urgent need to urinate, cloudy and strong-smelling urine, the presence of blood in the urine, burning or tingling after urination, difficulty urinating, and the presence of a low fever.
What causes cystitis in men?
In women, cystitis is a result of a UTI, which can easily occur as the urethra is anatomically close to the anus and it is easier for bacteria to be transported. This occurs less often in men, though bacterial imbalances within the urethra may occur due to harsh soaps or wearing tight underwear made of synthetic fabrics.
Some medications, such as drugs used for chemotherapy, may also cause inflammation of the bladder, as can radiation treatment of the pelvic region. Also, long-term use of a catheter can irritate the urethra and bladder and make you more vulnerable to bacterial infections, resulting in cystitis. Finally, other medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney stones, an enlarged prostate, or a spinal cord injury can cause this inflammation.
Cystitis in men: Risk factors and complications
As previously mentioned, certain medical conditions like an enlarged prostate, diabetes, kidney stones, or spinal cord injury may increase your risk of developing cystitis. Also, prolonged use of a catheter or undergoing a cystoscopy can also increase your risk of suffering inflammation of the bladder. Older men are more susceptible, as the likelihood of prostate inflammation increases with age.
If left untreated, cystitis may develop complications such as the presence of blood in the urine, which most often clears up with treatment, or kidney infections that could cause permanent damage if left unchecked.
Cystitis in men: Diagnosis and treatment tips
To determine whether your symptoms are due to cystitis, your doctor may perform a urine analysis, cystoscopy, or imaging procedure such as an ultrasound or x-ray. The urine analysis will check for bacteria, blood, and pus in the urine, while a cystoscopy will make use of a small, thin tube with a camera attached inserted through the urethra and into the bladder to search for internal signs of a bladder infection. Finally, though it is uncommon, your doctor may order an ultrasound or x-ray to locate other causes of inflammation such as a tumor or structural abnormality in cases where there is little or no evidence of infection found via other methods.
To treat cystitis, your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic to get rid of the infection. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen may also be helpful in easing discomfort while you are waiting for the antibiotics to take effect.
When to see your doctor?
Men should always visit their doctor if they are exhibiting signs and symptoms associated with cystitis, as it can be more severe for males than it is for women. It is also important to check with your physician if your cystitis is frequent or recurring, you experience pain in your side, fever, and/or blood in your urine, and your symptoms do not improve or resolve in a few days.
Prevention tips for cystitis
To prevent or lower your risk of developing cystitis, try taking showers instead of baths and ensure you are using mild soap, especially around the genital areas. Empty your bladder fully when you feel the urge to urinate, as well as directly after sex. Also, wear loose-fitting cotton underwear as opposed to tight, synthetic ones, and steer clear of pants or trousers that are too tight. Finally, staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water can help prevent bacteria from multiplying within the bladder.
While cystitis is more common in women, men may experience it too and potentially in a more severe manner. Symptoms of cystitis include frequent and urgent urination accompanied by cloudy and pungent urine, as well as a low fever or blood in the urine. Men who experience these symptoms should contact their doctor to be properly diagnosed so they may begin treatment as soon as possible and prevent potential complications like kidney infections that may cause permanent damage.
Related: Cystitis treatment with non-antibiotic bladder infection therapies shows potential: Study