Cystitis: Symptoms, causes, and treatments

Cystitis is a fairly common lower urinary tract infection.

It refers specifically to an inflammation of the bladder wall.

Although cystitis is not normally a serious condition, it can be uncomfortable and lead to complications if left untreated.

In this article, we will cover the causes of cystitis, how it is diagnosed and treated, including home remedies, and how it can be prevented.

Interstitial cystitis is a more serious, chronic type of cystitis. Find out more about it here.

Fast facts on cystitis

Here are some key points about cystitis. More detail is in the main article.

Cystitis is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection.

In most cases, mild cystitis will resolve itself within a few days.

If it persists for more than 4 days, it should be discussed with a doctor.

What is cystitis?

Cystitis is an infection of the bladder wall that can lead to ongoing discomfort.

Cystitis usually occurs when the urethra and bladder, which are normally sterile, or microbe-free, become infected with bacteria.

Bacteria fasten to the lining of the bladder and cause the area to become irritated and inflamed.

Cystitis affects people of both sexes and all ages. It is more common among females than males because women have shorter urethras.

Around 80 percent of all urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria from the bowel that reach the urinary tract.

Most of these bacteria form part of the healthy intestinal flora, but once they enter the sterile space in the urethra and bladder, they can cause a UTI.

UTIs are the most common hospital-acquired infections in the United States (U.S.), especially among patients using urinary catheters.


The following are common signs and symptoms of cystitis:

traces of blood in the urine

dark, cloudy, or strong-smelling urine

pain just above the pubic bone, in the lower back, or in the abdomen

burning sensation when urinating

urinating frequently or feeling the need to urinate frequently

Elderly individuals may feel weak and feverish but have none of the other symptoms mentioned above. They may also present with altered mental status.

There is a frequent need to urinate, but only small amounts of urine are passed each time.

When children have cystitis, they may have any of the symptoms listed above, plus vomiting and general weakness.

Some other illnesses or conditions have similar symptoms to cystitis, these include:

urethritis, or inflammation of the urethra

bladder pain syndrome

prostatitis, or inflammation of the prostate gland

benign prostatic hyperplasia, in men

lower urinary tract syndrome



candida, or thrush

Cystitis catheter
The prolonged use of a catheter can lead to cystitis.

There are many possible causes of cystitis. Most are infectious, and the majority of these cases stem from an ascending infection. The bacteria enter from the external genitourinary structures.

Risk factors include:

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