Symptoms of cystitis

What are the symptoms of cystitis?


Emma Thornton
Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
@EmmaThornton
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An introduction to cystitis symptoms

Cystitis can be an extremely unpleasant condition, associated with a range of urinary symptoms.

The severity of the symptoms can depend on a number of factors, ranging from the strength of your immune system, your age, pre-existing medical conditions, and the location of the infection.

However, symptoms should not become debilitating, preventing you carrying on with daily activities, such as work.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symtpoms of cystitis are:

These symptoms are normal and provided they are not too severe or debilitating, then they will usually subside with home treatment.

Signs of a more serious infection, or one that has spread to the kidneys include:

  • Blood in the urine. A little blood is often hard to notice and may simply be mistaken for cloudy urine. However, more obvious signs of blood indicate a more serious infection
  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Pain in the lower back.

If you experience these symptoms you should see your doctor as quickly as possible as they indicate that you are struggling to fight off the infection. Pain in the lower back suggests that the infection has spread to your kidneys, and this can be quite serious so should be treated quickly with antibiotics.

How long will the symptoms last?

It can be difficult to gauge how long symptoms will last, as much of this comes down to the severity of the infection and if you are using treatments to alleviate the symptoms. In general, the symptoms should begin to improve after a few days, and a bout of cystitis is unlikely to last for longer than a week to ten days.

Certain treatments, however, can significantly reduce the time of infection, and it is usually advised to put these measures into place, as this will lessen the risk of long-term damage to your bladder and urinary tract.

When to see a doctor

Cystitis is a condition which cannot really be self-diagnosed as it requires a test on the amount of bacteria in the urine to be completed, although many people are able to make accurate assumptions based on their symptoms.

In mild cases of cystitis, doctors often recommend managing the condition at home, with self-help measures. However, there are certain cases when a trip to the doctor is advised and necessary.

If you have not had a bladder infection before, then it is important to go to the doctor in order to establish the root cause of the problem, and be able to reduce the chance of a recurring infection.

It is also recommended that children with a suspected urinary infection go to the doctor, as this type of illness is less common in children and they may require more specialised treatment.

Men are also recommended to go the doctor with cystitis as their infection is more likely to be linked with an underlying medical condition, such as an enlarged prostate.

If symptoms worsen or do not improve within a few days, then medical attention is also advised, as bladder infections can spread and cause more serious problems with the kidneys.

Additionally, any ‘red flag’ symptoms should be investigated as soon as possible, including:

These symptoms tend to suggest a more serious infection, or that the infection has spread to the kidneys.

Complications of cystitis

Cystitis, as unpleasant and uncomfortable as it may be, is unlikely to result in complications. However, they can occur in those with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, or in pregnant women, and so should be approached with caution, as complications can quickly become serious in these groups of people.

Bladder infections may lead to an infection in the kidneys, which, if left untreated, can damage your kidneys. For this reason, it is very important to get your symptoms checked if you experience pain in your lower back.

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Here’s what I recommend

Emma our women's health advisor recommends Uva-ursi complex to help ease symptoms of cystitis and cranberry to maintain bladder health.

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Did you know?

Cystitis is sometimes known as ‘honeymoon cystitis’. Why? Well, during sex, bacteria can spread from the perineum to the urethral opening. The risk of developing cystitis is therefore increased depending on the frequency you have intercourse (sorry honeymooners!).

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