Cystitis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

  • Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder. Inflammation is where part of your body becomes irritated, red, or swollen.
  • In most cases, the cause of cystitis is a urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI happens when bacteria enter the bladder or urethra and begin to multiply.
  • Cystitis can affect anyone, but it occurs most often in women.

Causes of cystitis:

The type of cystitis depends on its cause. Possible causes of cystitis include:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Taking certain drugs
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Ongoing use of a catheter

Irritating hygiene products

What are the symptoms of cystitis?

Symptoms of cystitis can include:

  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Urge to urinate after you’ve emptied your bladder
  • Cloudy or strong-smelling urine
  • A low fever if in combination with a UTI
  • Blood in your urine
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Sensations of pressure or bladder fullness
  • Cramping in your abdomen or back

If a bladder infection spreads to your kidneys, it can become a serious health issue. In addition to the symptoms listed above, symptoms of a kidney infection include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Back or side pain
  • Chills

Also, two additional symptoms, fever or blood in the urine, aren’t symptoms of cystitis in themselves. However, they may occur in association with the other symptoms of a kidney infection.

Seek immediate medical attention if you think you have a kidney infection.

How is cystitis treated?


Antibiotics are a common treatment for bacterial cystitis. Interstitial cystitis can also be treated with medication. Medication for interstitial cystitis depends on its cause.


Surgery can treat cystitis, but it may not be the doctor’s first choice. It is more common for chronic conditions. Sometimes surgery can repair a structural issue.

Home care

Home care treatments can help ease discomfort. Common methods are:

  • Applying heating pads to your abdomen or back
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen
  • Sitz baths to cleanse the pelvic area

Sometimes you can manage cystitis symptoms at home, without taking medication. These should not replace antibiotics if they are needed to treat a UTI. Common home therapy methods are:

  • Cranberry juice or tablets
  • Drinking lots of fluids
  • Wearing cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes
  • Avoiding any food or beverages that you suspect make your symptoms worse

Alternative therapies

There are other nonsurgical procedures for cystitis. Sometimes stretching the bladder with water or gas can temporarily improve symptoms.

Nerve stimulation can lower the frequency of bathroom visits and may relieve pelvic pain. And for cystitis caused by radiation or chemotherapy, medication can help flush the bladder.

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