Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content


6-minute read

What is cystitis?

Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder. It is most common in adult females but it can also affect adult males and children.

If you think you or your child may have cystitis, it's important to see a doctor. Cystitis can lead to serious illness if it is not treated.

What are the symptoms of cystitis?

The main symptoms of cystitis are:

  • a strong, persistent urge to urinate (wee)
  • feeling pain or burning when urinating
  • needing to urinate often
  • passing only small amounts of urine each time
  • a dull ache or pain in your lower abdomen (belly)
  • urine that smells, or looks cloudy or bloody
  • pain above your pubic bone
  • fever

Signs that your child may have cystitis include:

  • having a high temperature
  • being irritable
  • wetting themselves when they were previously toilet trained
  • reduced appetite
  • being sick

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes cystitis?

Cystitis is often caused by a bacterial infection. This is known as a urinary tract infection or UTI.

Cystitis is usually caused by bacteria getting into the urethra (the tube that carries urine from your bladder out of your body). It can happen any time and it can also be caused by having sex. The bacteria involved is usually Escherichia coli (E. Coli) which live in your bowel.

Cystitis can also be caused by:

  • wiping your bottom from back to front after going to the toilet
  • some medicines
  • some chemicals found in bubble baths and spermicides
  • some conditions like kidney stones and diabetes
  • trouble weeing
  • prostate problems
  • urinary catheters
  • radiation therapy

When should I see my doctor?

You should see your doctor if:

  • you think you have cystitis and the symptoms have not gone away after 3 days
  • you get cystitis symptoms frequently
  • you have symptoms of cystitis and you are pregnant
  • your child has symptoms of cystitis

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

How is cystitis diagnosed?

To diagnose cystitis, your doctor may ask for a urine sample. This test can also help find out which antibiotic is best for treatment.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How is cystitis treated?

Treatment for cystitis usually includes a prescribed course of antibiotics from your doctor. Some pharmacists can also provide treatment for UTIs. Use the link for your state or territory below to learn more:

You should also rest and drink plenty of water.

As well as treatment prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist, there are some extra things that may help relieve the symptoms of cystitis. These include:

  • adding a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to a glass of water and drinking it
  • taking a urinary alkaliser available over the counter from your pharmacy
  • having a warm bath, lying in a warm bed, or applying a hot water bottle or wheat bag to your back or abdomen
  • taking pain-relief medicines, such as paracetamol, if you are in pain

Can cystitis be prevented?

Things that may help prevent you from getting cystitis include:

  • drinking lots of water
  • urinating as soon as you feel the need
  • making sure you empty your bladder completely each time you urinate
  • making sure you always wipe yourself from front to back after urinating (for females)
  • wearing cotton underpants (not nylon)
  • showering at least daily
  • urinating straight after sex

Complications of cystitis

It’s important to see your doctor or pharmacist if you think you may have cystitis. If not treated, cystitis can lead to kidney infection. This can cause fever, back pain and vomiting.

Rarely, cystitis can lead to sepsis — a life-threatening condition that needs immediate treatment.

Resources and support

To get more information about cystitis, speak to your doctor and pharmacist, or call Kidney Health Australia on 1800 454 363.

You can also call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222. A registered nurse is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2022

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results


Cystitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the bladder, usually caused by an infection. It affects women more than men, and can occur at any age.

Read more on WA Health website

Cystitis: self-care -

Cystitis is an infection of the urinary tract which causes the bladder to become inflamed. Find out what products are available for cystitis.

Read more on myDr website

Cystitis - Better Health Channel

Cystitis is the most common urinary tract infection in women.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Cystitis | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government

Cystitis is a relatively common condition which can affect males and females of all ages.

Read more on Queensland Health website

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) | Kidney Health Australia

Do you have a urinary tract infection (UTI)? Learn about causes, symptoms and treatment, and find out if you’re at risk.

Read more on Kidney Health Australia website

Urinary tract infection (UTI) | SA Health

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the urinary system. Infection may occur in the kidneys, bladder or urethra.

Read more on SA Health website

Urine culture | Pathology Tests Explained

Urine is one of the body’s waste products. It is produced in the kidneys and collected in the bladder until a person urinates. Urine in the bladder is normal

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Urinary tract infection (UTI) -

Urinary tract infection occurs when part of the urinary tract becomes infected. UTIs are usually caused by bacteria and generally clear up with a course of antibiotics.

Read more on myDr website

Bladder - Better Health Channel

Your bladder is a hollow organ that stores urine from the kidneys.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Bladder and bowel related conditions and diseases | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care

There are a number of common conditions and diseases that can affect the bladder and bowel. Find out what they are and how they may affect you.

Read more on Department of Health and Aged Care website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.