Unusual symptoms? Could it be cystitis?

8 surprising symptoms of cystitis

10 (1 reviews) Rate this page

Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
Ask Emma

27 November 2019

8 surprising symptoms of cystitis

Cystitis is a common infection affecting the urinary tract and bladder. In many cases, it involves some quite distinctive symptoms like frequent urination, cloudy or smelly urine or a burning sensation when going to the loo. But, did you know there may be some more unusual symptoms that you just might want to watch out for? These include:

  • Back pain
  • Bloating
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Itching
  • Nausea.

I'll explain why it's important that you look out for these symptoms and suggest some natural ways you can combat cystitis.

1. Back pain

Although some people may not associate cystitis with back pain, it's definitely one to watch out for. Although cystitis is not normally a serious infection, if the bad bacteria responsible start to make their way up towards your kidneys, this can become much more serious.

If you are susceptible to cystitis and are experiencing back pain, I would recommend you have this checked by your doctor.

2. Bloating

Inflammation and bloating go hand in hand, unfortunately. As immune cells within the blood rush to our aid, the surrounding area around the bladder can become quite swollen, and water retention is often more likely too. 

Also, if you have an infection in your urinary tract, there may be links with dysbiosis in the gut – we know that an imbalance in our gut bacteria can give rise to a number of undesirable symptoms.

In fact, poor digestion (specifically constipation, which can cause uncomfortable bloating and pain) has a link with cystitis so this can become a vicious cycle if it's not dealt with. Drinking plenty of plain water is a good rule of thumb for both constipation and cystitis.

Want a better night's sleep? Get your FREE 6-day personalised sleep programme now

Simply answer 2 quick questions to receive personalised sleep tips straight to your email inbox.

Join Now

3. Confusion

Confusion could indicate that the infection has spread (a red flag that needs checking). Or, it could indicate that there is something else at play here, such as thrush. 

Thrush is caused by a type of yeast infection rather than by bacteria but, once established, it can make its way into the blood and even cross the blood-brain barrier – hence the confusion that can follow.

So, if you're confused about feeling confused, this is something to consider, and this is especially one to watch in the elderly – get yourself along to the doctor as soon as possible.

4. Dizziness

Dizziness is another symptom to have checked by your doctor as it could indicate that the infection has spread and/or a yeast infection is at play.

Alternatively, another less sinister possibility is that you are dehydrated as a result of frequent urination, or because you aren't drinking enough. Often, this happens as people are scared that, if they drink too much, they will need to go to the loo more than ever. This is a common mistake and, actually, it is much more beneficial in the long run to drink that little bit extra.

As I've mentioned, always make sure you are drinking plenty of plain, still water – at least 1.5 litres daily. Then, even better, why not add in a glass or two of good quality, low-sugar Cranberry juice daily? This has been found to help protect against recurrent infections.

5. Fatigue

As your immune system works super hard to keep an infection like cystitis at bay, you can be left feeling quite drained. Watch your diet and avoid sugar, which will only make things worse by contributing to greater dips and spikes in your blood sugar levels, impacting your low energy symptoms. Ensure you get plenty of rest to give your body some valuable time to repair and restore.

Also, although the exact reasons aren't very well understood, there are thought to be links with interstitial cystitis and fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. If you think these may be relevant to you, go and see your GP.

6. Headaches

Headaches could also be the result of dehydration, but they could also be a sign that something which was originally cystitis has now moved towards the kidneys and become something more serious. This is especially likely if this symptom is accompanied by some others, such as a fever. As always, if in any doubt, visit your doctor as soon as you are able for a check-up.

7. Itching

Experiencing itchiness at the same time as cystitis doesn't necessarily mean it's related to the bacterial infection itself, but it could indicate something else could be going on too, such as a yeast infection. 

Although cystitis doesn’t necessarily cause thrush or vice versa, some common factors, such as in imbalance in good gut bacteria, could put you at risk of developing both conditions, so they very often go hand in hand.

8. Nausea

Nausea isn't a typical symptom of cystitis. But, if cystitis is left untreated, it can develop into pyelonephritis or a kidney infection, in which case nausea may become apparent.

If nausea is problematic and you aren't quite sure what might be causing it, I would recommend you go to a doctor to rule out any possible issues that might be cause for concern.


Originally written on 7/11/17, updated on 27/11/19.


Results: How often do you suffer from cystitis?

 37% of you said that you suffer from cystitis 2-3 times per year, with just over 1/4 suffering from constant symptoms or experiencing cystitis once a year. To help prevent recurring cystitis, try cutting back on sugary drinks and alcohol and get into the habit of drinking plenty of fresh, plain water every day.

Uva-ursi and Echinacea – for cystitis


£ 10.85

Buy now

Fresh extracts of uva-ursi and echinacea to help maintain bladder health and comfort.
More info

Biotta Wild Mountain Cranberry Juice


£ 5.99

Buy now

A combination of the fresh juice of organic cranberries together with birch and agave nectar.
More info

Our expert's top picks for a healthy bladder and dietary advice


£ 37.59

Key products for bladder health and cystitis management: Uva-ursi and Echinacea Complex, Cranberry …
More info

What's being asked

Will changing my diet help with cystitis?

There are many helpful things you can do diet-wise to reduce the likelihood of cystitis. • Drink ...
Read more >

Is cystitis infectious?

No, it’s a bacterial infection that cannot be caught and cannot spread to another person. It may ...
Read more >

How is cystitis diagnosed?

A urine sample is given to the doctor, who sends it for testing. A urinary tract infection is ...
Read more >

Can cystitis and thrush be linked?

If you suffer from both recurring thrush and cystitis, or find that when you develop one, the other follows soon after, you’ll know how frustrating it can be.

Find out what the link is

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.

Learn more

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!).

7 reasons you keep getting cystitis

Healthy & nutritious dinner ideas

Get new recipes in your inbox every week. Sign up now

Are you at risk of catching the super-cold?

     Receive healthy recipes from A.Vogel      every month.


Receive healthy recipes from A.Vogel every month

Sign up now