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Cystitis and the Neurogenic Bladder

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  • 0:02 Gotta Go Right Now
  • 0:30 What Is Cystitis?
  • 3:24 What Is Neurogenic Bladder?
  • 6:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will cover two different conditions affecting the same organ. They are known as cystitis and neurogenic bladder. We'll cover what they are, what symptoms they cause, and how they are treated.

Gotta Go Right Now

Ever had an urge to go? Not go out, but go to the bathroom? Maybe it was because you just had way too much to drink. Or maybe it was because you were holding it in on a long car ride. Hopefully, that was the only reason you had to go. That's because, not so infrequently, the urge to go has nothing to do with a long car ride and everything to do with what's going on in or with your bladder.

What Is Cystitis and Why Does It Occur?

A frequent urge to urinate and a painful or burning sensation during urination may be indicative of cystitis. Cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder, usually as a result of infection, most commonly due to bacteria. Normally, urine has been classically considered to be sterile (this has been called into question recently, but I digress for this lesson's purposes), meaning there should be no bacteria in urine. But bacteria love the bladder! It's warm, wet, has delicious nutrients they use as food, and it's really dark, which helps protect the bacteria from sunlight that's trying to kill them.

So, these bacteria want to survive and do their utmost to try to climb into the bladder by way of the urethra. The urethra is the tube coming out of your bladder that helps you empty urine out into the toilet bowl. If you drink enough water and the flow of urine isn't blocked by something like a stone, then the physical act of normal urination pushes bacteria out of the urethra before they get into the bladder, thereby preventing cystitis.

Unfortunately, women are more prone to cystitis then men. There's more than one reason for this, including hormonal changes, but one reason is really simple to understand. The urethra is much shorter in women than in men for obvious anatomical differences. This means the bacteria have a much shorter and quicker route to the bladder than in men. The other easy-to-understand reason for why women are more predisposed to cystitis is because the location of the urethral opening is very close to the vagina and anus, where lots of bacteria are jumping at the chance to make their way into the bladder.

But, I don't want to pick on the ladies. I'm going to make them feel much better with one little tidbit. Cystitis predisposes people to bladder stone formation. Bladder stones need to make their way out through the urethra. This is very painful. If a woman has a stone that needs to be passed, it's much easier and quicker than it is for a man since the urethra is so much shorter in women. So, while women may have it worse in one respect, it's actually way better when it comes down to some serious stuff like passing a stone.

Men who eventually develop cystitis may also suffer from prostatitis, which is the inflammation of the prostate. In our case, this happens because bacteria making their way to the bladder through the urethra love to have a layover in the prostate. Prostatitis can be very painful and is often difficult to treat, especially when it occurs over and over again. The symptoms and signs I outlined, along with a urine test, can help diagnose cystitis. This condition is normally treated with antibiotics, which are drugs that kill bacteria.

What Is Neurogenic Bladder?

Okay, I think I picked on both sexes enough. Let's move on to another bladder problem for which antibiotics are, unfortunately, of no real use. If they were, it would be a much less inconvenient problem. This problem is known as neurogenic bladder. This is a bladder dysfunction stemming from neurological damage that causes flaccid or spastic bladder dysfunction. What I'm trying to say here is that any condition that causes the signaling from or to the bladder to go haywire will result in its dysfunction. These problems include a stroke, diabetes, a herniated disk, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, ALS, and alcohol abuse.

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