Acute cystitis is inflammation of the bladder. It is usually caused by an infection. There are 2 types are of acute cystitis:
- Uncomplicated—occurs in premenopausal, nonpregnant women, and in those with no other underlying conditions
- Complicated—occurs with underlying conditions; most cases of acute cystitis in men are considered complicated
The Urinary Tract
Acute cystitis is most often caused by bacteria. Bacteria enter the urethra and travel into the bladder. The urethra is a tube that allows urine to pass from the bladder to the outside. Bacteria may come from the lower intestines, the rectal area, or skin. Occasionally, acute cystitis can be the result of medications or trauma.
Acute cystitis is more common in women. Other factors that may increase your risk of uncomplicated cystitis include:
- History of acute cystitis
- Sexual activity
- Barrier methods of birth control—use of diaphragm or condoms coated with spermicide
Factors that increase your risk of complicated cystitis include:
- Using a urinary catheter
- History of childhood urinary tract infection
- Compromised immune system
- Diabetes, type 1 or type 2
- Abnormalities of urinary system, such as kidney stones or kidney transplant
- Enlarged prostate
- Birth control devices—use of diaphragm or with spermicide
- Trouble emptying your bladder
Symptoms may include:
- Frequent and urgent need to urinate
- Passing only small amounts of urine
- Pain in your abdomen, pelvic area, or lower back
- Burning sensation during urination
- Leaking urine
- Increased need to get up at night to urinate
- Cloudy, bad-smelling urine
- Blood in your urine
- Low-grade fever
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Urine will be tested and cultured for the presence of bacteria.
If complicated cystitis is suspected, additional tests may be necessary. These may include imaging studies to examine the bladder.
Acute cystitis is treated with antibiotics. It is important to take all antibiotics as advised. Finish all your antibiotics even if you are feeling better.
Your doctor may also prescribe medication to reduce pain and bladder spasms.
Here are some steps you can take to keep bacteria out of your urinary tract:
- Drink plenty of liquids.
- Include cranberry juice in your diet. Some studies support the use of cranberry juice to prevent urinary tract infections.
- Urinate when you have the urge. Do not resist it.
- Empty your bladder before and after sexual intercourse.
- Wash your genitals daily.
- If you're a woman, always wipe from the front to the back after having a bowel movement.
- Avoid using douches and feminine hygiene sprays.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Urology Care Foundation
The Kidney Foundation of Canada
Complicated urinary tract infection (UTI). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114928/Complicated-urinary-tract-infection-UTI. Updated August 12, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Colgan R, Williams M. Diagnosis and treatment of acute uncomplicated cystitis. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(77):771-776.
Cranberry. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Updated December 2015. Accessed March 3, 2016.
Katchman EA, Milo G, et al. Three-day vs longer duration of antibiotic treatment for cystitis in women: systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2005;118(11):1196-1207.
Uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) in men. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T904748/Urinary-tract-infection-UTI-in-men. Updated July 8, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
What I need to know about urinary tract infections. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/uti_ez. Updated September 2013. Accessed March 3, 2016.
5/6/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114928/Complicated-urinary-tract-infection-UTI: Barbosa-Cesnik C, Brown MB, et al. Cranberry juice fails to prevent recurrent urinary tract infection: Results from a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Clin Infect Dis. 2011;52(1):23-30.
Last reviewed MArch 2016 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.