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
This could also happen with naturally occurring bacteria in your body
that become imbalanced. These bacteria lead to an infection and cause inflammation.
Cystitis does not always come from an infection. For example, certain
medicines and hygiene products can also cause inflammation. Treatment for
cystitis depends on its underlying cause. Most cases of cystitis are acute, or
occur suddenly. Interstitial cystitis cases are chronic, or long
Cystitis can affect anyone, but it occurs most often in women.
What are the symptoms of cystitis?
of cystitis can include:
- frequent urge to urinate
- urge to urinate after you’ve
emptied your bladder
- cloudy or strong-smelling
low fever if in combination with a UTI
- blood in your urine
- pain during sexual
- sensations of pressure or
- cramping in your abdomen or
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:
- back or side pain
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
Causes of cystitis
The type of cystitis depends on its cause. Possible causes of cystitis
- urinary tract infection (UTI)
- taking certain drugs
- exposure to radiation
- ongoing use of a catheter
- irritating hygiene products
Cystitis can be either acute or interstitial. Acute cystitis
is a case of cystitis that occurs suddenly. Interstitial
cystitis (IC) is a chronic or long-term case of cystitis that affects
multiple layers of bladder tissue. Both acute and interstitial cystitis have a
range of possible causes. The cause of cystitis determines the type. The
following are types of cystitis:
Bacterial cystitis occurs when bacteria enter your urethra or bladder
and cause an infection. This can also result when normally growing bacteria in
your body becomes imbalanced. The infection leads to cystitis, or inflammation
in your bladder.
It is important to treat a bladder
infection. If the infection spreads you your kidneys it can become a
serious health issue.
Certain medications can cause your bladder to become inflamed. Medicines
pass through your body, and eventually exit through your urinary system. Some
medications can irritate your bladder as they exit your body.
For example, the chemotherapy drugs cyclophosphamide
can cause cystitis.
Radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors, but
it can also damage healthy cells and tissues. Radiation treatment in the pelvic
area can cause your bladder to become inflamed.
Ongoing use of a catheter, a tube used to facilitate the release of
urine from the bladder, can increase your risk of bacterial infection, and damage
tissues in the urinary tract. Both bacteria and damaged tissues can cause
Certain hygiene products can irritate your bladder. Products that may
cause cystitis include:
- spermicidal jellies
- use of a diaphragm with
- feminine hygiene sprays
- chemicals from a bubble bath
associated with other conditions
Sometimes cystitis occurs as a symptom of other medical conditions,
- kidney stones
- enlarged prostate
- spinal injuries
is at risk for cystitis?
Cystitis is more common in women due to their shorter urethra.
However, both men and women are at risk for this condition.
Women may be at a higher risk for cystitis if they:
- are sexually active
- are pregnant
- use diaphragms with
- have experienced menopause
- are utilizing irritating
personal hygiene products
Men may be at a higher risk for cystitis if they have an enlarged
prostate due to retention of urine in the bladder.
Risk factors common to men and women include:
- current or recent urinary
tract infection (UTI)
- radiation therapy
- use of a catheter
- kidney stones
- spinal injuries
- interference with the flow of
is cystitis diagnosed?
There are a few different ways to diagnose cystitis. Your doctor may
ask for a urine sample to determine the cause of your cystitis and check for a
UTI. Your doctor may also perform cystoscopy, or an imaging test to determine
the cause of your symptoms.
In a cystoscopy, a doctor inspects your bladder with a thin tube that
has a camera and light attached. Doctors can use the cystoscope to collect a
biopsy of bladder tissue if needed. A biopsy is a small tissue sample used for
Imaging tests are not often necessary, but they can be helpful in
diagnosing cystitis. An X-ray or ultrasound can help rule out other causes of
cystitis, such as a structural issue or tumor.
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 treatments can help ease discomfort. Common methods are:
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
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.
What is the outlook
The outlook of cystitis is dependent on the cause of the symptoms. In
general, the outlook for cystitis is good. However, it is important to treat
the underlying condition as soon as possible. If you experience symptoms of
cystitis, it’s best to contact a doctor.
While recovering from cystitis, you should:
- drink plenty of fluids
- avoid caffeinated drinks, as
these can irritate your bladder
- urinate frequently, rather
than “holding it”
- wear cotton underwear and
loose fitting clothes
Women should wipe from front to back after a bowel movement to prevent
the spread of bacteria from feces. In addition, taking showers instead of baths
may also help. Make sure to wash skin gently in the genital area. Women should
empty their bladders after sexual intercourse, and drink water. Finally, avoid any
products that irritate the area.