Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder. It is most common in women but can also affect men and children.
If you think you or your child may have cystitis, it’s important to see a doctor, as it can lead to serious kidney problems if left untreated.
What is cystitis?
It can happen any time and it can also be caused by sexual intercourse. The bacteria involved is usually E. Coli, which lives in the bowel.
Cystitis can also be caused by:
- sexually transmitted infections
- radiation therapy
- some medicines
- some chemicals found in bubble baths and spermicides
Cystitis symptoms and diagnosis
The main symptoms of cystitis are:
- a strong, persistent urge to urinate
- feeling pain or burning when urinating
- needing to urinate often
- passing only small amounts of urine each time
- a dull ache in the lower abdomen
- urine that smells, or looks cloudy or bloody
It’s important to see a doctor if you think you may have cystitis. If not treated, it can lead to kidney infection. To diagnose cystitis, your doctor may ask for a urine sample. This test can also help find out which antibiotic is best for treatment.
Cystitis treatment and self-care
Treatment for cystitis usually includes antibiotics, rest and drinking plenty of water. Other things you can do to help relieve the symptoms of cystitis are:
- 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 on your back or abdomen
- taking painkillers such as paracetamol, if you are in pain
Things that may help prevent getting cystitis include:
- drinking lots of water
- urinating as soon as you feel the need
- urinating straight after sex
- showering at least daily
- wearing cotton underpants (not nylon)
- making sure you always wipe yourself from front to back after urinating (for women)
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Last reviewed: February 2018