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What is Cystitis?

Cystitis is a condition in which the bladder becomes inflamed causing discomfort and problems with urination. It is usually caused by a bladder infection.

Causes of Cystitis

Bacterial infections are the most common cause of cystitis. A number of noninfectious factors may also cause inflammatory bladder conditions such as:

  • Interstitial cystitis, a chronic painful bladder condition of unknown cause
  • Drug-induced cystitis which can occur with certain chemotherapy drugs
  • Radiation cystitis following radiation therapy.
  • Foreign-body cystitis (Long-term use of a catheter)
  • Chemical cystitis (bubble bath, feminine hygiene sprays, or spermicidal jellies)
  • Cystitis associated with other conditions such as diabetes, kidney stones, enlarged prostate, or spinal cord injuries.

Symptoms of Cystitis

Common signs and symptoms of cystitis include:

  • Frequent urination due to a persistent urge
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Cloudy appearance of urine
  • Urine smell is more intense
  • Discomfort in the pelvis
  • Sensation of pressure in the lower abdomen
  • Cramping in your abdomen or back
  • Low-grade fever

Diagnosis of Cystitis

Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and conduct a physical examination. The following diagnostic tests may be ordered:

  • Urine analysis: Your doctor may ask for a urine sample to determine whether your urine contains bacteria, blood, or pus.
  • Cystoscopy: During this test, your doctor inserts a thin tube with a light and tiny camera (cystoscope) through the urethra into your bladder to look for signs of disease in your urinary tract. If necessary, doctors can use the cystoscope to collect a biopsy of bladder tissue. A biopsy is a small tissue sample which is tested in the laboratory.
  • Imaging Tests: Although imaging tests are not always required, they can be helpful in diagnosing cystitis. Other causes of cystitis, such as a structural problem or tumor, can be ruled out with an X-ray or ultrasound.

Treatment for Cystitis

Treatment for cystitis depends on the cause. Antibiotics are the initial line of treatment for cystitis caused by bacteria. For a first-time infection, you will need to take antibiotics for three days to a week and complete the entire course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor to ensure that the infection is completely gone.

If you have repeated UTIs, your doctor may recommend a long-duration low-dose antibiotic course and may perform further testing to confirm that no urologic abnormalities are present that could be causing the infections.

It's possible that your bladder infection occurred during a hospital stay. This kind of infection usually requires different antibiotics and a different treatment strategy as it can be resistant to regular interventions.

Treatments used to ease the signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis include:

  • Medications
  • Bladder distention
  • Nerve stimulation

Avoiding bubble baths or spermicides if you're hypersensitive to the chemicals involved may help relieve symptoms and prevent further cystitis attacks.


Though cystitis is not always preventable, some good preventive measures include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water.
  • Wiping from front to back after urination or a bowel movement
  • Taking showers rather than tub baths.
  • Gently washing the skin around the vagina and anus
  • Avoiding the use of deodorant sprays or feminine products in the genital area as these can irritate the urethra and bladder.
  • Avoiding underwear and pants that are too tight

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