What is Cystitis?

Living with cystitis can be as painful as it is inhibiting. It is a chronic bladder problem worms its way into your social life, your productivity at work, and even your sleep. According to an article published by Medical News Today, Cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder wall that usually happens when bacteria gets into the urethra and bladder causing them to be infected. Cystitis can affect people of all ages and of both sexes, however it is more common in females than males due to their shorter urethras. Cystitis, which is more commonly known as urinary tract infections, is the most common hospital-acquired infections in the United States, according to a national study reported by Oxford Academic. UTIs are especially prevalent among patients that need urinary catheters while they are in the hospital. There are a variety of things that may cause cystitis including tampon use, not emptying your bladder completely creates an environment where bacteria can multiply, sexual activity, a blockage in part of the urinary system, and other possible bladder or kidney problems. Some of the most common symptoms of cystitis include, but are not limited to; dark, strong-smelling urine; pain in the abdomen, pubic bone or the lower back; the feeling of needing to urinate often, but only small amounts of urine pass when you go. In order to diagnosis cystitis, a doctor will have you do a urine test, which will be sent to a laboratory, along with perform an exam. The urine sample is tested to determine what type of bacterium is causing the infection. Once that information is gathered your doctor will prescribe an oral antibiotic. In addition to the antibiotic to remove the bacteria, several remedies may help with the side-effects of Cystitis. Doctors recommend drinking lots of water and other fluids to help flush out the bacteria in your system, however alcohol should be avoided. Cranberry juice is encouraged because cranberries contain an ingredient that prevents bacteria from hanging out on the interior lining of the bladder. Other body discomfort can be relieved by painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Additionally, regular sauna sits may bring much needed relief to the side-effects of cystitis.

Can Saunas Help Cystitis Pain?

If you experience pain in your abdomen or pelvis from cystitis a sauna sit may help to relieve that discomfort. There are several different types of saunas, but regardless the type the health benefit’s your body receives from them are all the same. In Infrared saunas, special lamps use light waves to heat a person’s body instead of the entire room. Infrared saunas are one of the few mediums that provide infrared heat in a controlled environment. According to a 2009 review of evidence, which covered nine studies done by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, researchers found limited evidence that infrared saunas bring improvement to chronic pain. In a review out of the University of British Columbia, it stated that there’s evidence to support infrared saunas can help provide pain management. The review also pointed out that no adverse reactions or accidents occurred in any of the studies that were reviewed. Furthermore, the side-effects of cystitis can cause stress in your life if they impede on your daily activities. Sauna sits may help to reduce stress levels. According to the book “Sauna Therapy for Detoxification and Healing,” written by Dr. Lawrence Wilson, several studies have snows that regular sauna use lowers levels of cortisol, which is the body’s main stress hormone. Dr. Wilson writes that research has shown that sweating increases relaxation, which reduces anxiety and the feeling of frustration.

What is Infrared Heat, and how can it specifically assist with Cystis?

Infrared heat is an invisible electromagnetic wave with a wavelength longer than that of visible light that helps improve blood flow. Typically in a traditional sauna, the surrounding air is heated up to about 185 degrees, which then heats your body up. However, in infrared saunas the temperature only reaches about 140 degrees. Infrared rays penetrate your body more deeply, which cause your body to start sweating at a lower temperature than a traditional sauna. Researchers have found that infrared saunas produce a lighter demand on the cardiovascular system, so they in turn might be beneficial to people who lead a more sedentary life due to medical issues. According to an article published by Livestrong, infrared heat also releases nitric oxide, which improves circulation and increases the amount of nutrients and oxygen that flows to an injured area, which ultimately aids in the healing process. Although saunas have increased in popularity in recent years, the use of saunas dates back thousands of years in cultures around the world, most recently the discovery of a bath house in Scotland dating back to the Bronze Age, around 2000 B.C., as reported in an article by the Observer. If you are considering incorporating regular sauna sits into your health routine to aid in the healing process from cystitis, be sure to speak with your doctor first and foremost before adding it to your routine. When you start with the sauna, it is recommended that you do not spend any longer than 10 minutes your first time in. Experts recommend slowly increasing the time you spend in a sauna and never mix alcohol intake in with your sauna use, instead be sure to drink two to four glasses of water following your sauna sit.

Resources: Christian Nordqvist, Reviewed by Xixi Lou, MD, “Everything You Need to Know About Cystitis,” Medical News Today, November 30, 2017; Sanjay Saint, Christine P. Kowalski, Samuel R. Kaufman, Timothy P. Hofer, Carol A. Kauffman, Russell N. Olmsted, Jane Forman, Jane Banaszak-Holl, Laura Damschroder, Sarah L. Krein, “Preventing Hospital-Acquired Urinary Tract Infection in the United States: A National Study,” Oxford Academic, January 15, 2008; U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; Sauna Therapy for Detoxification and Healing,” by Dr. Lawrence Wilson; Masada A, Koga Y, Hattanmaru M, et al. “The Effects of repeated thermal therapy for patients with chronic pain.”Psychother Psychosom 2005;74:288-294; Aaron Matthew, “Benefits of Infrared Heat,”, August, 14, 2017