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Cystitis is word to describe the symptoms arising from inflammation of the bladder wall.

What is cystitis?

Cystitis usually occurs because of a bladder infection, caused by bacteria entering and multiplying in the bladder or urethra – the tube through which urine passes from the bladder to outside the body. It can also be caused by non-infective inflammation.

There are two types of cystitis:

Acute – cystitis that occurs suddenly; normal resulting from Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Interstitial – a chronic or reoccurring bout of cystitis (recurrent UTI or inflammation)

What are the symptoms of cystitis?

The main symptoms of cystitis include:

  • Pain, burning or stinging when you pass urine
  • Needing to urinate more often and urgently
  • Urine that’s dark, cloudy or smells strong
  • Feeling of constant infection
  • Feeling pain low down in your tummy that may be worse when the bladder if ull
  • Feeling unwell, achy, sick and tired
  • Feeling pressure or fullness in your bladder
  • Feeling incompletely emptying

In some cases, a bladder infection can spread to the kidneys, becoming a serious health concern. In addition to the above symptoms, a kidney infection may cause:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Chills

What causes cystitis?

Cystitis is often caused by ascending and unbalanced bacterial infection arising from the urethra and into the bladder. It’s not always clear why that happens.

But some factors can increase your risk of getting cystitis, including:

  • Obstruction to flow – Urethral stricture, enlarged prostate, urethral sphincter disorders, Diverticulae, para-urethral cysts
  • Intimate hygiene – wiping your bottom from back to front after going to the toilet or change in sexual partner or practice
  • Urinary catheter – Long term catheters can increase the risk of cystitis
  • Certain medications – such as chemotherapy medications can cause cystitis
  • Vaginal Health – Menopause, Vaginal Atrophy, Prolapse
  • Hygiene products – certain products can irritate your bladder
  • Radiation – treatment in your pelvic area can cause cystitis
  • Other conditions – including diabetes, kidney stones, HIV, Ketamine Use
  • Spinal Injury – abnormal bladder thickening and catheterisation
  • Fistula – Abnormal connection between the Gastrointestinal or Gynaecological tract and the bladder or urethra.

How is cystitis diagnosed?

Mild cases of cystitis often clear up without treatment. If your symptoms do not start to improve within 3 days, speak to your doctor.

Your Urologist will ask about your medical history and symptoms. They may test a sample of your urine, as this will help them confirm if you have cystitis. It will also help them rule out other conditions. Your doctor may also perform cystoscopy, an imaging test and urodynamics to determine the cause of your symptoms.

How is cystitis treated?

In many cases, cystitis is easy to treat. Your doctor may recommend some (or all) of the following:

  • Lifestyle modification – to identify triggers
  • Antibiotics – to treat infection
  • Antibiotic or bladder instillations – to soothe bladder wall
  • Botox Injections or nerve stimulation – improve pain, reduce urgency symptoms, help bladder emptying
  • Reconstructive Surgery – to improve drainage by relieving obstruction or create a new bladder using bowel; sometimes removing the painful native bladder.

If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.

This content has been checked and approved by

Mr Richard Nobrega  ›

Mr Richard Nobrega is a Consultant Urologist at King Edward VII’s Hospital.

Find your Cystits specialist at King Edward VII's Hospital

If you suspect you have Cystitis and you’re seeking an expert opinion, you can find the UK’s leading urology specialists here at King Edward VII’s Hospital. Our consultants are hand-picked for you, making it easy to access the best possible care.

Mr Jeremy Ockrim  ›
Special interests include:
Incontinence (+ 12) more
Mr Richard Nobrega  ›
Special interests include:
Neuro-urology (+ 14) more

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