Cystitis is the medical term for inflammation of the bladder or lower urinary tract. Most of the time, the inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection called a urinary tract infection (UTI). A bladder infection can cause pain, discomfort and be a serious health issue if the infection spreads to the kidneys. Treatment for bacterial cystitis is most often antibiotics; however, treatment for other types of cystitis depends on the main cause and a woman’s overall health.



Possible signs and symptoms of cystitis in adults may include:

  • Bloody urine
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Foul smelling urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Pressure in the lower middle abdomen or back
  • Low fever
  • Pelvic pain


Possible signs and symptoms of cystitis in children may include:

  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Painful urination
  • Irritability



Cystitis is caused by germs, most often bacteria. These organisms enter the urethra and then the bladder and can cause an infection. The infection can also spread to the kidneys; however, most of the time the body gets rid of the bacteria through urination. If the bacterium ends up sticking to the wall of the urethra or bladder, treatment is recommended to help prevent the infection from growing and spreading. In women, transferring bacteria can happen through:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Wiping back to front after going to the bathroom
  • Inserting a tampon
  • Using a diaphragm for contraception


Most cases of cystitis are caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria found in the intestines.


Risk factors 

Factors associated with an increased risk of developing cystitis include the following:

  • Sexual intercourse: bacteria can be pushed into the urethra
  • Certain types of birth control: Diaphragms can contain spermicidal agents
  • Pregnancy: hormonal changes can increase the risk of a bladder infection
  • A weak immune system: changes due to conditions such as diabetes, HIV or bladder infections
  • Extended use of bladder catheters: catheters can increase vulnerability to bacterial infections as well as bladder tissue damage.
  • Change in hormone levels in postmenopausal women



Complications of a bladder infection may include:

  • Kidney infection (Pyelonephritis)
  • Blood in the urine (Gross Hematuria)
  • Hormonal changes



A few recommendations for preventing cystitis may include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Urinating frequently
  • Taking showers and thoroughly washing the skin around the vagina and anus
  • Wiping from front to back after a bowel movement
  • Avoiding the use of deodorant sprays or feminine products in or around the vaginal area

Drinking cranberry juice (A chemical in the cranberry product is thought to prevent certain bacteria from attaching to cells that line the bladder)