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Cystitis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention

Cystitis is an inflammation of the urinary bladder. Bacterial Infection is the most common cause of cystitis. The typical manifestations of cystitis include burning sensation and urgency while urinating. This condition frequently occurs in women and rarely in men and children.


In most cases, the symptoms of cystitis resolve within 2-3 days even without any treatment. But in some cases, this condition is severe, and proper medical intervention is essential to avoid further complications.

What is Cystitis?

Cystitis is the most common of all the urinary tract infections. It is characterized by swelling and irritation of the bladder.

It is not a life-threatening condition, but it does have a negative impact on the quality of life of the patient. In some cases, however, it is essential to manage this condition quickly, to avoid the spread of the infection to the kidneys.

What are the Causes of Cystitis?

Bacterial infection is the primary cause of cystitis in most of the cases. However, there are various other causes of cystitis. Some of them include:

  • Exposure to radiation for the treatment of underlying diseases like cancer
  • Use of catheter for a long-term
  • Exposure to certain chemicals found in bubble baths
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Hospital-acquired infections

What are the Symptoms of Cystitis?

Symptoms of cystitis vary among individuals. Some common symptoms are listed below:

  • Urgency in urination
  • Burning and pain when urinating
  • Increase in the frequency of urination, both in the day and night times
  • Passing small amounts of urine each time
  • The foul-smelling and dark discolouration of the urine
  • Pain and discomfort in the abdomen
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Small amounts of blood in the urine
  • Mild fever

What are the Risk Factors Associated with Cystitis?

Women are at more risk for developing cystitis as their anatomically short urethra serves an easy way for the bacteria to approach the bladder and cause infection.

Common risk factors for cystitis include:

  • Being Sexually Active: Close sexual contact may cause transmission of bacteria or other infections into the urinary tract.
  • Diabetes: Patients suffering from diabetes have higher sugar levels in their urine and it provides a good environment for the growth of bacteria, which leads to urinary tract infections like cystitis.
  • Kidney Failure: Patients with kidney related problems like kidney failure have a decrease in the urinary output, and retention of urine in the bladder, this leads to the growth of bacteria and infections like cystitis.
  • Prolonged Immobility: Bedridden patients use urine catheters for prolonged time, and the presence of such foreign materials in the urinary tract makes it susceptible to infections. Patients with brain or spinal cord injury who are usually bedridden should be frequently monitored for cystitis and other urinary tract infections.
  • Use of Diaphragm for Contraception: Use of any contraceptive implants are considered foreign bodies, and it makes the body of an individual more susceptible to infections.
  • Post-radiation or Chemotherapy Radiation and chemotherapy weaken the immune system of the body and increase the risk of infections.
  • Pregnancy or Menopause: Hormonal imbalances that are associated with such conditions weaken the immune system and increases the risk of acquiring infections.

What are the Complications of Cystitis?

Early diagnosis and treatment of cystitis are essential to avoid further complications of the disease. Untreated cystitis may give rise to the following complications:

  • Infection of the kidneys
  • Scarring of the tissue in the bladder
  • Kidney failure
  • Painful bladder syndrome or interstitial cystitis
  • Blood in the urine (hematuria)
  • Urinary reflux issues in children

What is the Diagnosis for Cystitis?

Diagnosis of cystitis includes both physical examination and laboratory tests.

Physical Examination:

This examination includes detailed history-taking of the patient. Details about the frequency of urination, the urgency of urination at night times, the type and location of the pain are taken. Past medical history is also essential to understand the underlying primary diseases like diabetes and the medications being used.

Other laboratory tests include:

Complete Urine Examination (CUE):

Analysis of the urine helps to diagnose the underlying diseases like diabetes or any kidney-related infections. Examination of the urine sample is done to check for blood cells, epithelial cells, proteins, ketones, pus cells and increase in the levels of glucose.

Urine Culture:

This test involves microscopic examination of a sample of urine to understand the type of bacteria which has caused cystitis. It helps the doctor to prescribe the most suitable antibiotic therapy for the treatment of infection.


In this procedure, a cystoscope, which is a thin tube with a small camera, is passed through the urethra into the urinary bladder. This helps in viewing the urinary tract to check for any signs of infection.


In this procedure, bladder and other areas of the urinary tract are examined using ultrasound to check for any abnormal growths such as tumors.

Treatment of Cystitis:

Treatment of cystitis, due to bacteria, is mostly with antibiotics, and the choices of drugs depend on the culture reports. The treatment aims to stop the further progression of the disease symptoms.

  • Initial treatment includes the use of antibiotics like ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin and nitrofurantoin.
  • For the treatment of recurrent infections, long-term antibiotics is helpful.
  • Medications are also given for treating underlying diseases like interstitial cystitis and diabetes, which may, in turn, cause cystitis.
  • Women are more prone to cystitis at the age of menopause, so they are recommended topical vaginal antiseptic creams for regular use.

Surgeries form a rare choice of treatment method for cystitis. They are mostly performed to treat underlying conditions like urine reflux, interstitial cystitis and other structural abnormalities.

Various lifestyle modifications also help in the management of cystitis, such as

  • Having plenty of water,
  • Avoiding contact with chemicalslike spermicides,
  • Increasing Vitamin C rich food in diets such as oranges, gooseberry and limes.
  • Drinking Cranberry Juice

What is the Prevention of Cystitis?

Cystitis may not always be preventable but following some precautions may be helpful to prevent cystitis. They are listed below:

  • Maintaining self-hygiene
  • Maintaining adequate hydration
  • Making a habit of urinating at regular intervals
  • Making a habit of peeing, just before and after having sex
  • Using lubricants during sexual intercourse
  • Avoiding unhygienic and tight undergarments
  • Cleaning of genitals with freshly washed towels
  • Emptying the bladder entirely during each urination

Recurrence of urinary tract infection such as cystitis is very common. This recurrence of cystitis can be avoided by taking regular medications and by having a regular follow-up with the doctor.

Frequently asked questions:

  1. My sister has been having recurrent episodes of urinary tract infections or bladder infections post-marriage. How can she prevent these episodes?

The risk of cystitis and other urinary tract infections increases when a person is sexually active, as the spread of disease-causing organisms like bacteria occurs usually through sexual contact. It can be prevented by:

  • Avoiding sex till the symptoms of urinary tract infections subside completely
  • Both the partners should maintain hygiene of their genitalia by cleaning them with antiseptic soaps or creams
  • Preventing or reducing the use of contraceptives like condoms
  • Emptying the bladder regularly, just before and after having the sex

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