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Non-bacterial cystitis

Although bacterial infections are the most common cause of cystitis, a number of non-infectious factors can also cause your bladder to become inflamed, such as:

  • Drug-induced cystitis – certain medications, particularly chemotherapy drugs, can cause inflammation of the bladder as broken-down components of the drugs leave the body
  • Radiation cystitis – radiation treatment for the pelvic area can cause inflammatory changes in bladder tissue
  • Radiation cystitis

    Radiation cystitis is a potential complication of radiation therapy (when used to treat tumours in the lower abdomen/pelvic area). Radiation cystitis can cause symptoms that range from minor and temporary, to severe and chronic.

    There are three types of radiation cystitis:

    1. Acute radiation cystitis occurs as an acute inflammatory reaction to radiation treatment that can occur during, immediately after or within the first three months of radiotherapy.
    2. Chronic radiation cystitis which begins to develop after a period of six months to three years, but can occur up to three decades following treatment.
    3. Late radiation cystitis which can appear years or decades after the initial radiotherapy treatment. Latent phase symptoms are those of secondary malignancies, within or outside of the irradiation field.
  • Chemical cystitis – some people may be hypersensitive to chemicals contained in certain products, such as bubble bath, feminine hygiene sprays or spermicidal jellies, and may develop an allergic-type reaction within the bladder, causing inflammation.
  • Bladder pain syndrome, also known as interstitial cystitis (BPS/IC), is an unpleasant sensation (pain, pressure or discomfort) thought to be related to the urinary bladder, associated with lower urinary tract symptom(s) of more than six weeks duration, in the absence of infection or other identifiable causes

BPS/IC is one of the most frustrating types of non-bacterial cystitis as its causes are, as yet, unknown. There's no obvious infection and antibiotics don't help. This means that the pathway to diagnosis and treatment isn’t straightforward