Work is stressful enough as it is, but one thing that makes professional life that little bit more unbearable is getting a raging UTI, also called cystitis. It's tough running to the bathroom every five minutes and trying to concentrate when you're in pain. Worst of all, there's no one to talk to about it.
The most common symptom of a urinary tract infection is pain when you pee (which your doctor might call dysuria). This happens because bacteria (usually from your skin; in some cases, from your bowel) gets into your urethra (the tube which takes urine from your bladder out of your body), which irritates it and makes it inflamed. Other symptoms include needing to urinate more often than usual, or feeling that after go you need to pee again soon after. Sometimes it can make your urine dark, cloudy, or smelly too.
suggests one or two out of every five women will experience it in their lifetime. "It's quite painful and quite uncomfortable, it can stop you sitting still – you can feel quite unwell," advises , a GP and medical writer from London.
Lots of bouts clear up after a few days, but for those that don't the most important thing is to get a prescription for antibiotics to fight the infection. (Likewise if you're pregnant, worried you have an STI, or notice blood in your pee, visit your GP rather than waiting it out).
Some surgeries (but not all) have a policy of offering to discuss a suspected case of cystitis over the phone, Dr. Hazell advises, saving you time and energy. If during a phone consultation your GP doesn't find anything in your symptoms or medical history that make them consider other diagnoses, they can provide a prescription for antibiotics after you speak to them.
1. Drink Up
"Drinking lots of fluids is the most important thing," Dr. Hazell explains, "because although then you'll probably be getting up to pee all the time you're probably going to do that anyway it should be a bit less sore because the urine is more dilute, then it's a bit less uncomfortable." Drink water, and avoid sugary or acidic juices and soft drinks.
2. Don't Dismiss Painkillers
Dr. Hazell also recommends that patients take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to manage the discomfort:
"People have this thing of, 'Oh, I don't want to mask the pain' and there's often a lot of pride in not taking painkillers. But they're available over the counter for the reason and if they help then take them for a few days."
As with any painkillers, read the pamphlet in the box before you take them to check it's okay to do so. The pamphlet will also explain how many you can take at once, and how long you can take them for before you need a break.
3. Go to the Toilet As Soon As You Need to Pee
As NHS Choices advises, if you have cystitis you should go to the toilet as soon as you need to pee, and completely empty your bladder when you go.
4. Choose the Right Clothing
Wear loose clothing and comfortable underwear – they are going to be more comfortable than tight clothes, such as jeans and tights.
5. Stand Up
If your job involves long periods of sitting at a desk, and you feel uncomfortable during the day, sometimes getting up and walking around can relieve discomfort.
If you work from home, suggests that if you put a hot water bottle on your stomach or thighs, that can also help.
Be aware that sometimes, some women can develop yeast infections during a course of antibiotics, which might explain why symptoms seem to get worse before getting better. It's estimated about 30% of women have thrush because of taking antibiotics.
Cystitis can sometimes crop up after sex, but when you get cystitis it's best to avoid having sex again until your symptoms have completely cleared up.
Oh, and no article on cystitis would be complete without mentioning a certain home remedy. Cranberry juice has long been touted a cure of cystitis but unfortunately, according to Bladder Health UK, there's no point drinking it during an attack of cystitis. You might even be making the problem worse, their advice adds, because of the high sugar content in cranberry juice which can encourage bacteria to grow.