The lack of thirst or the lesser urge to drink water in winter can lead to major health problems like cystitis or urinary tract infection, especially in women, doctors say. Cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder caused by urine infection. "Women are prone to cystitis because of their shorter urinary tract as compared to men. Women of all ages can acquire such infections but it is more with women who have just been married and women approaching menopause," Malvika Sabharwal, head of department of gynaecologist and obstetrician, Nova Speciality Hospitals, told IANS. Up to 15 percent of women have cystitis each year and half of them have had cystitis at least once in their life. The risk of cystitis is eight times higher in women than men."Women suffering from tuberculosis, diabetes mellitus, those who are pregnant and those who are sexually active are more vulnerable to cystitis," added Sabharwal. Doctors hence stress that pregnant women should take special care not to keep their bladder empty. "Pregnant women should try not to drink too much caffeine or acidic drinks such as orange juice as these can irritate the bladder. They should never keep their bladder empty as it can create an environment for bacteria to multiply," Archana Dhawan Bajaj, gynaecologist and obstetrician at Nurture Clinic, told IANS. Doctors advise drinking at least 12 glasses of water a day to help flush out the infection and dilute the urine. "Burning sensation while urinating, frequent need to urinate but passing only small amounts or no urine, having pain in the lower back, dark smelly urine and even fever are the symptoms to cystitis," adds Dhawan. Blood can also pass with urine but that can be detected only when the urine is tested. "So, to detect the severity of the infection, a simple microscopic culture of the urine has to be done," Amita Shah, consultant gyanecologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon, told IANS. However, doctors also advise on microscopic urine examination once every three to six months. "The treatment for cystitis includes addressing each episode promptly with a short course of antibiotics and, sometimes, a regular dose of antibiotics for the long-term. However, if untreated, the infection can go from the bladder to the kidney," added Shah. To treat cystitis doctors also advise daily doses of cranberry juices. As preventive measures, doctors also stress on maintaining hygiene. "Self-hygiene is important and more important is that the washroom should also be cleaned and sanitised," added Shah.
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