Pants on fire?

Many conditions affecting the kidneys, bladder or urethra are described as Urinary Tract Infections, and most are concentrated in the bladder and urethra. Cystitis refers to inflammation of the urinary bladder. 

Cystitis is characterised by an urgent desire to empty the bladder, although only small amounts of urine are typically passed. Urination is typically painful and frequent, and even after the bladder has been emptied there may be the desire to urinate again.

Urine often has an unpleasant odor and may appear cloudy or contain blood. Cystitis may be accompanied by lower back and abdominal pain and fever. While cystitis is usually more of an annoyance than a serious problem, if untreated it can lead to more serious health problems such as kidney infection.


Urinary Tract Infections are usually caused by bacterial infection of the bladder. The majority of cases are caused by Escherichia coli, a bacteria that is usually found in the intestines. It is more common in women due to the urethra being shorter in women than in men, making it easier for bacteria to move up the urinary tract and in to the bladder.

Typically Urinary Tract Infections occur when bacteria travels from the rectum to the bladder via the urethra. This can happen:

  • with poor hygiene;
  • when wiping from back to front, after going to the toilet;
  • when using contraceptive agents such as diaphragms or spermicides; and
  • with frequent sexual intercourse.


Other risk factors include:

  • pregnancy;
  • menopause;
  • incomplete emptying of the bladder or delaying urination; and
  • low fluid intake.


Diet and Lifestyle

Increase consumption of:

  • water. It is essential to drink adequate amounts of purified water, so that the bacteria can be flushed out of the bladder via urination. Ideally a glass of water every half-hour;
  • herbal teas;
  • good quality cranberry juice (the 100% pure juice that is sour, NOT the juice with added sugar);
  • fresh blueberries; and
  • celery and garlic.


Decrease or avoid consumption of:

  • coffee, caffeinated tea and chocolate;
  • alcohol, soft drinks and concentrated fruit juices; and
  • citrus fruits, tomatoes, processed foods, spicy foods and sugar


Other considerations:

  • Ensure good hygiene.
  • Wipe from front to back after going to the toilet.
  • Empty the bladder after having sex.
  • Avoid tight clothing and underwear made from synthetic fabrics as these may promote bacterial growth by increasing the heat in that area.


Please note that if symptoms get suddenly worse or develop in to fever, nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine or pain in the middle of the back, it could indicate kidney infection, so medical attention should be sought, immediately.