The urinary tract is the part of the body that deals with storing and removing urine from the body. It is quite common for people to get infections in this part of their body.
If that infection is in the bladder, it is known as cystitis. Cystitis can also be caused by irritation, even without an infection.
The main symptom of a urinary tract infection, including cystitis, is the need to pass urine more often than usual. You may often feel an irritation or burning as you pass urine as well.
Generally your doctor will give you antibiotics if you have symptoms of a UTI, and also send some urine off for testing. See your doctor promptly if:
- you feel unwell
- you have a temperature
- you have looked after yourself but it has not got better
- you are pregnant
- you are a man, an older woman or a child
- the symptoms continue for more than two or three days
Looking after yourself
If you have urinary problems, you can help ease the symptoms.
Drink more water than usual, to help flush urine through, unless you have a medical condition which means this is not possible. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
If you are in pain, get advice on which pain relief medicines you can take. Talk to your pharmacist.
You may be able to take medicines called urinary alkalinisers. These relieve the pain and burning of cystitis and are available from pharmacies without prescription. They are not antibiotics, but work by neutralising the acid in the urine that causes the pain. But they are not suitable for everyone, so check with a pharmacist first.
Some people use cranberry juice to treat or prevent UTIs. There is not enough evidence from research to suggest it will work, but it might help relieve symptoms. But you should not drink cranberry juice or take cranberry extracts if you are taking warfarin (a medicine used to prevent blood clots).
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about urinary problems, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: February 2018