The medical term cystitis refers to inflammation of the bladder. The condition is most commonly caused by bacteria, in which case it is also called a urinary tract infection or UTI. Cystitis can also be a reaction to radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and certain medications or irritants like spermicidal jellies, feminine hygiene spray or catheters. Cystitis may be a symptom or complication of another illness.

What are the symptoms?

There are quite a few symptoms of cystitis. The most common symptom is blood in the urine, followed by painful urination with a burning sensation. Some might have a minor fever, pain or discomfort around the hips and/or lower abdomen, and cloudy smelly urine. Small children with cystitis may start wetting themselves during the daytime. Nighttime bed-wetting by itself is not necessarily a sign of cystitis, however.

When should I call the doctor?

By itself, cystitis is not a serious condition; it is more painful and annoying than anything else. However, it can occur as part of a more serious condition. This is especially true of men, for cystitis is rare in healthy men. A man with cystitis should always call the doctor. Children who start wetting themselves during the day should be taken to their pediatrician to see if they have cystitis.

The bacteria that cause cystitis can spread to the kidneys, and a kidney infection is a serious matter. Call the doctor immediately if your cystitis is accompanied by any of the symptoms of a kidney infection, which include nausea and vomiting, pain in the back or sides, and/or fever and chills.

How is cystitis treated?

Since cystitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection, the doctor will typically prescribe antibiotics. A first infection is a straightforward matter in which you take the antibiotics for three days to a week depending on the severity of your symptoms. You may notice an improvement in said symptoms within a day or two, but you should always take the full course of medication prescribed to make sure the infection is completely gone. Stopping prematurely may allow some of the bacteria to survive, and your cystitis may return, possibly even worse.

If you have recurrent bouts of cystitis, your doctor may prescribe a longer course of antibiotics.. The doctor will examine you to see if you have abnormalities in your urinary tract causing the repeat infections.

Cystitis can have other causes, and these types will need other treatments. If the cystitis is caused by an irritant like a bubble bath or spermicidal jellies, treating it is simply a matter of avoiding the irritant. You can also relieve discomfort by using a heating pad or soaking in the tub for 15 to 20 minutes.

Doctor Sherry Thomas is a urogynecologist who specializes in women’s health and issues with the urinary tract. She can help diagnose and treat a variety of conditions, so you can get back to feeling like yourself. Contact Dr. Sherry Thomas today to schedule your consultation.