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Cystitis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
Cystitis is an infection of the bladder, but the term is often used indiscriminately and covers a range of infections and irritations in the lower urinary system.
Symptoms of cystitis include:
* Burning sensations or pain during urination.
* Frequent urination.
* Cloudy and foul-smelling urine.
* Pain directly above the pubic bone.
* Blood in the urine, a common feature and need not cause undue alarm.
* Children under five years of age often have less concrete symptoms, such as weakness, irritability, reduced appetite and vomiting.
* Older women may also have no symptoms other than weakness, falls, confusion or fever.
Infection from intestinal bacteria is by far the most frequent cause of cystitis, especially among women, who have a very short urethra (the tube through which the urine passes from the bladder to the outside). Normally, urine is sterile (there are no micro-organisms such as bacteria present). Between 20 to 40 per cent of women will get cystitis in their lifetime.
* The best first aid treatment is to drink, drink, drink.
* To some extent alkalizing the urine helps to eradicate the germs and also soothe the bladder. You can try using bicarbonate of soda, 5ml (1 tea spoon) in half a glass of water, two or three times a day, or one of the over the counter cystitis remedies.
* For similar reasons the folklore remedy is barley water or, these days, cranberry juice.
* If the symptoms are any more than transient, you should contact your doctor, when next able to, regarding the possibility of antibiotics.
* There have been herbal remedies for centuries in Europe. Read what Tina Samuels has to say:
THREE HERBS FOR CYSTITIS
Herbalists know that not everyone with cystitis needs antibiotics or other prescription medication. There have been herbal remedies for centuries in Europe, a culture far more accepting of nontraditional medicinal methods than the US. Below are three herbs designed for cystitis relief.
Corn Silk (Zae mays)
Corn silk is also known as corn, Indian corn, maize jagnog, Turkish corn, and yu mi xu. It has been used to treat urinary tract syndromes because of its diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties for centuries. The supplement is produced from the female flower stamen (picked before full bloom) and fine soft silks about 4-8 inches long. It is a good aid to treating the pain of any inflamed/irritated mucous surfaces.
Combining corn silk with couchgrass, bearberry or even yarrow is good for treating cystitis. You may need to experiment to see what works for you. Corn silk is used as a remedy for cystitis, stones, bladder irritation, edema, and gonorrhea. Its herbal medicinal qualities are diuretic, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, tonic, anodyne, alterative, and lithotriptic. It is really a “soother”.
To make an infusion, pour a cup of boiling water on 2 teaspoonfuls of dried corn silk. Leave this mixture to steep for 10-15 minutes. The tea, when used as a medicinal, should be taken three times a day. As a tincture, take 3-6 ml of it three times a day.
Marshmallow Root (Althea officinalis)
A hardy perennial that grows up to 4 feet tall, althea officinalis has white or pink flowers that bloom in late summer. It is generally found in damp salty places. Known simply as “mallow”, it is used as an expectorant, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, mucilaginous, emollient and one of the most effective demulcents. Mallow flowers, leaves, syrup and roots are used in herbal pharmacology and most supplements use the dried root and leaves. The roots of the marshmallow have been used medicinally for the digestive tract for the relief of local irritation, bladder infections, and an immune system stimulant. The leaves are used for the urinary tract, lungs, cystitis relief, urethritis, respiratory infections, and coughs. The roots are very rich in mucilage and can get gummy when they are wet, making it good to protect and coat the gastrointestinal tract.
Mallow can be bought as a tea, powder, extract, capsules or tablets. The normal dosage is 1-4ml of tincture three times a day.
Pipsissewa (Chimaphila Umbellata)
An evergreen shrub native to woody areas, pipsissewa has been traditionally used by Native Americans to treat fevers and to induce sweating. Primarily it is the leaves, twigs and flowers that make up the herbal remedies. It makes a good disinfectant for the urinary tract and herbalists use this plant specifically for that. The plant contains hydroquinones which is why the plant makes a good disinfectant and antimicrobial, but not good for any long term treatment usage. This herb may interfere with birth control pills due to the phytoestrogenic properties, so talk to your doctor before taking this or any herb remedy. This can be found in tincture, extract, tablet, and tea form.
As a prevention, the website Netdoctor.co.uk recommends drinking cranberry juice every day or taking capsules. “There is no doubt that this simple and natural treatment brings relief to many women with cystitis. It is thought that the cranberry juice works by preventing common bacteria from ‘sticking’ to the walls of the bladder and so preventing infection taking hold.”
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