Unusual symptoms? Could it be cystitis?

Watch out for some rarer symptoms that could be linked to cystitis

Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
Ask Emma

07 November 2017

Back pain

Although some people may not associate back pain with cystitis, it’s definitely one to watch out for. Although cystitis is not normally a serious infection, if the bad bacteria causing it 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.


Inflammation and bloating go hand in hand unfortunately. As immune cells within our 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.


Confusion could indicate that the infection has spread (a red flag that needs checking) or there could be 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.


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 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. Always make sure you are drinking plenty of plain, still water, at least 1.5l daily. Then, even better, why not add in a glass or two of good quality, low sugar Cranberry juice daily, which has been found to help protect against recurrent infections.


As your immune system works super hard to keep the infection 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, which will further impact your energy levels. Then, 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.


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


Itchiness around the time of cystitis may not be directly 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 and 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.


Nausea isn’t a typical symptom of cystitis, but if left untreated, cystitis can develop into pyelonephritis or a kidney infection in which case, nausea may become apparent. If nausea is an issue and you aren’t quite sure what might be causing it, I would recommend you go to a doctor.

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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

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