Living with chronic cystitis is a major challenge, as it can seriously affect your quality of life. We have gathered advice that will help you manage symptoms of cystitis and restore you wellbeing.
Having said that, every person experiences cystitis differently, therefore it will most likely take some experimenting for you to find a combination of practices that help.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t discover it from the first few attempts. Keep trying, keep researching and don’t lose hope.
Look ahead in confidence. Pain does not have to be your new normal.
Whether you are trying to get your mind off pain, or to ignore the sense of urgency in order to train your bladder, distractions can help. Talk to your friends or family on the phone, check social networks or surf the internet, read, go for a short walk, solve some sudokus. Visualisations and daydreaming about your next vacation can also help.
Options are numerous - you could try yoga, guided meditation, tai-chi, qigong… Find what works for you and then practice it regularly.
There are many phone applications that can help you embark on this journey (try Headspace, Calm, Sleepa, or one of many guided visualisations you can find on YouTube). If it suits you to take a 10-20 min power-nap, make some time in the day to recharge yourself.
Travelling with cystitis
Planning out your trip will help you avoid stress, so while you are packing your bags make sure to:
- Pack a sufficient supply of any medications or supplements you are using. If you are self-instilling Gepan, don’t forget to pack a couple of syringes, catheters, lubricant and anything else you may need. Many patients experience symptom flare up on vacation due to changes in routine and nutrition. Being prepared will prevent cystitis from ruining your holiday. You could also have a Gepan instilled just before the trip, to reduce the possibility of symptoms recurring whilst you are away.
- Having said that, try to follow your routine and diet as much as possible, even when on holiday.
- Minimise the risk of infection when on vacation (especially infection of the urinary tract). Swimming pools and public restrooms, for example, are a common source of infection. When using a public toilet, do carry your own toilet paper or wipes, and toilet seat protectors.
- If you need a special mattress (e.g. a latex mattress) or a heated blanket to feel comfortable, check in advance with your accommodation if they can secure these for you.
- When it comes to intimate hygiene, unscented white toilet paper is perfectly fine, as well as pH-neutral intimate wet wipes or alkaline, soap-free washing lotion.
Nutritionists generally recommend a balanced and healthy diet, divided into several smaller meals throughout the day.
Basics of a balanced diet:
- Eat meat less then 3 times per week, preferably light meat such as poultry.
- Eat sea fish at least 1 time per week (2 or 3 is even better).
- Eat small amounts of saturated fats.
- Drink at least 1.5l of liquid per day, preferably non-carbonised mineral water. Although this daily intake may seem like too much at first, bear in mind that your body needs a certain amount of liquid and that insufficient hydration results in concentrated urine which additionally irritates your bladder.
Many chronic cystitis patients have found that eating unprocessed and low-acid foods can help. The following foods and drinks have been identified as troublesome:
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners, like aspartame;
- Alcohol (especially wine);
- Coffee and strong tea;
- Carbonated drinks;
- Cheese, particularly sliced;
- Smoked or pickled products;
- Strong spices;
- Fruits: citrus, pineapple, apple, apricots, strawberries, nectarines, peaches, plums, grapes, as well as fruit juices.
Please note: Different patients react in different ways, so the best thing is to try and see what works for you. These diet tips might not necessarily give good results for all patients.