Cystitis is an inflammation of the urinary bladder. It's most often caused by a bacterial infection but may have other causes.
Cystitis (sis-TIE-tis) is the medical term for inflammation of the bladder. Most of the time, the inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection, and it's called a urinary tract infection (UTI). A bladder infection can be painful and annoying, and it can become a serious health problem if the infection spreads to your kidneys.
Less commonly, cystitis may occur as a reaction to certain drugs, radiation therapy or potential irritants, such as feminine hygiene spray, spermicidal jellies or long-term use of a catheter. Cystitis may also occur as a complication of another illness.
The usual treatment for bacterial cystitis is antibiotics. Treatment for other types of cystitis depends on the underlying cause.
Cystitis signs and symptoms often include:
In young children, new episodes of accidental daytime wetting also may be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Nighttime bed-wetting on its own isn't likely to be associated with a UTI.
Seek immediate medical help if you have signs and symptoms common to a kidney infection, including:
If you develop urgent, frequent or painful urination that lasts for several hours or longer or if you notice blood in your urine, call your doctor. If you've been diagnosed with a UTI in the past and you develop symptoms that mimic a previous UTI, call your doctor.
Also call your doctor if cystitis symptoms return after you've finished a course of antibiotics. You may need a different type of medication.
If your child starts having daytime wetting accidents, call your pediatrician.
In otherwise healthy men, cystitis is rare and should be investigated by your doctor.
Your urinary system includes your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. All play a role in removing waste from your body. Your kidneys — a pair of bean-shaped organs located toward the back of your upper abdomen — filter waste from your blood and regulate the concentrations of many substances. Tubes called ureters carry urine from your kidneys to the bladder, where it's stored until it exits your body through the urethra.
UTIs typically occur when bacteria outside the body enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply. Most cases of cystitis are caused by a type of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria.
Bacterial bladder infections may occur in women as a result of sexual intercourse. But even sexually inactive girls and women are susceptible to lower urinary tract infections because the female genital area often harbors bacteria that can cause cystitis.
Although bacterial infections are the most common cause of cystitis, a number of noninfectious factors also may cause the bladder to become inflamed. Some examples include:
Some people are more likely than others to develop bladder infections or recurrent urinary tract infections. Women are one such group. A key reason is physical anatomy. Women have a shorter urethra, which cuts down on the distance bacteria must travel to reach the bladder.
Women at greatest risk of UTIs include those who:
Other risk factors in both men and women include:
In men without any predisposing health issues, cystitis is rare.
When treated promptly and properly, bladder infections rarely lead to complications. But left untreated, they can become something more serious. Complications may include:
Kidney infection. An untreated bladder infection can lead to kidney infection, also called pyelonephritis (pie-uh-low-nuh-FRY-tis). Kidney infections may permanently damage your kidneys.
Young children and older adults are at the greatest risk of kidney damage from bladder infections because their symptoms are often overlooked or mistaken for other conditions.
Blood in the urine. With cystitis, you may have blood cells in your urine that can be seen only with a microscope (microscopic hematuria) and that usually resolves with treatment. If blood cells remain after treatment, your doctor may recommend a specialist to determine the cause.
Blood in the urine that you can see (gross hematuria) is rare with typical, bacterial cystitis, but this sign is more common with chemotherapy- or radiation-induced cystitis.
Cranberry juice or tablets containing proanthocyanidin are often recommended to help reduce the risk of recurrent bladder infections for some women. But research in this area is conflicting. Some smaller studies demonstrated a slight benefit, but larger studies found no significant benefit.
As a home remedy, avoid cranberry juice if you're taking the blood-thinning medication warfarin (Coumadin). Possible interactions between cranberry juice and warfarin can lead to bleeding.
Although these preventive self-care measures aren't well-studied, doctors sometimes recommend the following for repeated bladder infections:
If you have symptoms of cystitis, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. In addition to discussing your signs and symptoms and your medical history, your doctor may recommend certain tests, such as:
Cystoscopy. During this test, your doctor inserts a cystoscope — a thin tube with a light and camera attached — through the urethra into your bladder to view your urinary tract for signs of disease.
Using the cystoscope, your doctor can also remove a small sample of tissue (biopsy) for lab analysis. But this test most likely won't be needed if this is the first time you've had signs or symptoms of cystitis.
Cystitis caused by bacterial infection is generally treated with antibiotics. Treatment for noninfectious cystitis depends on the underlying cause.
Antibiotics are the first line of treatment for cystitis caused by bacteria. Which drugs are used and for how long depend on your overall health and the bacteria found in your urine.
First-time infection. Symptoms often improve significantly within a day or so of antibiotic treatment. However, you'll likely need to take antibiotics for three days to a week, depending on the severity of your infection.
No matter what the length of treatment is, take the entire course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor to ensure that the infection is completely gone.
Postmenopausal women may be particularly susceptible to cystitis. As a part of your treatment, your doctor may recommend a vaginal estrogen cream — if you're able to use this medication without increasing your risk of other health problems.
With interstitial cystitis, the cause of inflammation is uncertain, so there's no single treatment that works best for every case. Therapies used to ease the signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis include:
If you're hypersensitive to certain chemicals in products such as bubble bath or spermicides, avoiding these products may help ease symptoms and prevent further episodes of cystitis.
Treatment of cystitis that develops as a complication of chemotherapy or radiation therapy focuses on pain management, usually with medications, and hydration to flush out bladder irritants.
Cystitis can be painful, but you can take steps to ease your discomfort:
For recurrent bladder infections, work with your doctor to develop a strategy to reduce recurrences and the discomfort that cystitis can cause.
If you have signs or symptoms common to cystitis, make an appointment with your primary care provider. After an initial evaluation, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in urinary tract disorders (urologist or nephrologist).
To prepare for your appointment:
For cystitis, basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared, don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
April 22nd, 2021