Cystitis Symptoms:

The Telltale Signs and Causes of UTIs

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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are extremely common and odds are you will probably experience one at some point in your life. But did you know that there are different types of UTIs depending on what part of the urinary tract is affected

  • Kidney (Pyelonephritis)
    This is caused by infection and requires prompt medical assessment. You can feel quite unwell with this condition (temperature, flank/ side pain, vomiting, blood in the urine).
  • Bladder (cystitis)
    This can be caused by infection (requires antibiotics) or inflammation. It is a common type of urinary tract infection (UTI) in women.
  • Urethra (urethritis)
    This is often caused by inflammation rather than infection and can mimic the symptoms of cystitis.

Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria getting into your urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the external opening) or bladder. This can cause infections in different parts of the urinary tract.

Cystitis is the most common type of UTI, especially for women. Here, we’re going to take a look at the most common cystitis symptoms and how you can avoid getting it! Let’s get started.

What is Cystitis?

Before we delve into the symptoms and causes of cystitis, it is helpful to understand what it actually is! Cystitis is the term that is used to describe irritation or inflammation of the bladder (lower urinary tract), This is usually caused by an infection.

As we mentioned before, there are different types of UTIs depending on what part of the urinary tract is affected. Sometimes, it can be tricky to tell the difference between them but there are some telltale signs when you look at the symptoms of each infection.

UTIs: Cystitis vs Pyelonephritis

While pyelonephritis and cystitis are both types of UTIs, they both affect different parts of the urinary tract. Pyelonephritis is when there is infection in the kidney (upper urinary tract). This needs prompt medical treatment as it can potentially lead to kidney damage and sepsis (severe infection). Cystitis affects the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra) and is less likely to cause serious medical problems.

Pyelonephritis typically causes the following symptoms:

  • Temperature
  • Flank/ side pain
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in urine

UTI: Cystitis vs Urethritis

Urethritis (inflammation of the urethra) can mimic symptoms usually associated with cystitis but it is an infection or inflammation of the urethra, rather than the bladder. Urethritis is often caused by sexually transmitted bacteria and it can be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as gonorrhoea. However, this isn’t always the case and there can be other causes. In fact, there are three different types of urethritis:

  • Gonococcal urethritis: caused by gonorrhoea
  • Nongonococcal urethritis (NGU): caused by something other than gonorrhoea e.g. repeated irritation of the urethra or from another type of STI.
  • Non-specific urethritis (NSU): this term is used when the infection doesn’t have a clear cause.

There are other non-infective causes of urethritis, such as physical injury, friction during intercourse or irritation from spermicides/ lubricants.

The most common symptoms of urethritis include:

  • Pain while peeing
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Itchiness at the tip of the urethra
  • Penile discharge, including a white or cloudy discharge or blood
  • Pelvic pain

It’s important to note that men often have symptoms of nongonococcal urethritis but many women will not experience any symptoms! It is important for anyone with symptoms to see a doctor for assessment.

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Most Common Cystitis Symptoms

Now that we know what cystitis is and some other UTIs that it can be confused with, let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms associated with cystitis.

The most common symptoms of cystitis include:

  • Pain, burning or stinging when you pee
  • Needing to pee at night
  • Peeing more than usual
  • Needing to pee immediately (urgently)
  • Dark, cloudy or strong-smelling pee
  • Pain low down in your tummy (not in your sides)
  • Blood in the urine*
  • Feeling feverish along with your other urinary symptoms*

*If you’re feeling unwell, have a temperature or blood in your urine, you should arrange an assessment with your local GP.

Young children can also develop UTIs and their symptoms may differ slightly. A high temperature of 38°C or above, weakness, irritability, reduced appetite and vomiting can all be signs of cystitis in children.

What Causes Cystitis?

While both men and women can develop cystitis, women tend to be more prone to developing it than men. This is because the female urethra is much shorter than in males, and it’s closer to the back passage. This means that bacteria can get into the bladder via faeces (poo) more easily. E. Coli bacteria (found in the bowel) is the most common cause of female cystitis.

Are there some factors that can increase your chances of developing cystitis?

Yes, there are some things that can increase your likelihood of developing cystitis. Some of these include:

  • Having sex
  • Wiping from the back to the front (instead of front to back) after going to the toilet
  • Being older than 65 years (10% of women over this age report having a UTI in the last 12 months)
  • Hormonal changes e.g. pregnancy, menopause
  • Using a diaphragm/spermicide & condoms for contraception
  • Diabetes
  • A weak immune system

Is There Anything I Can Do To Minimise My Chances Of Developing Cystitis?

While there is very little or nothing you can do to change some of the factors that increase your likelihood of developing cystitis (like ageing or being a woman!) but there are some lifestyle changes that you can do to help.

For instance, you can ensure that you wipe from front to back after you go to the toilet. Likewise, peeing as soon as possible after sex can help reduce the risk of developing a UTI. You can also try the following:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water: this means that you pee regularly throughout the day.
  • Taking showers rather than baths: this reduces the exposure of your genitals to shower gels, bubble baths etc.
  • Washing the skin around the vagina with water before and after sex
  • Changing soiled nappies and incontinence pads promptly
  • Keeping the genitals clean and dry.

When To See A GP

If you are male, then you should see a GP for assessment if you have any UTI symptoms. It is essential that a urine sample is checked in all males with these symptoms.

If you are female, generally speaking, cystitis isn’t a cause for serious concern and it can be more of a nuisance than anything else – especially if you tend to get it frequently. Mild cases will often get better by themselves within a few days but you may also need some antibiotics to clear the infection.

Some people will experience episodes of cystitis frequently and they may need regular or long-term treatment. This can cause distress and discomfort but with some lifestyle changes and medical treatment, symptoms can be managed effectively.

It is important to note that whilst most infections do clear up by themselves, there is a chance that cystitis can lead to a more serious kidney infection. So, if you feel your symptoms are not improving in a couple of days, it’s important to speak to your doctor. You should also see your GP if:

  • You suffer from repeated episodes of cystitis/urinary tract infections: this assessment should include checking a urine sample for specific bacteria and may also include a sexual health screening.
  • You are not responding to the treatment prescribed.
  • You have become very unwell at any time .e.g high temperature, nausea/vomiting, drowsy or back pain between your lower ribs and hips.

Repeat Prescription

Female Cystitis Treatment

Request a prescription for Cystitis Treatment online with Webdoctor.ie! Once your request has been approved, we can send your prescription directly to your chosen pharmacy via secure Healthmail.

Requesting A Prescription For Female Cystitis Treatment With Webdoctor.Ie

If you’re female (birth sex), between the ages of 17 and 65 years, and experiencing specific clinical urinary symptoms for less than 48 hours, we might be able to help you with our online prescription service. Through our online Cystitis Treatment prescription service, we can offer patients prescriptions for nitrofuran antibiotics, if clinically appropriate.

Requesting a prescription is easy – just fill in a brief online questionnaire to tell your doctor about your symptoms. Then, one of our Irish-registered doctors will review your request to make sure this treatment is medically safe and suitable for you. Once approved, we will then send your prescription directly to an Irish pharmacy of your choice via secure Healthmail. Not only is this online prescription service super convenient, it only costs €25!

Please note that this Cystitis Treatment prescription service is only for female (birth sex) patients needing to treat female cystitis – it is not suitable for men. You can learn more about this service by visiting our Cystitis Treatment page.

How It Works

Through an online medical questionnaire, face-to-face video consultation or home health test, our online doctors will review your case and prescribe the best treatment for you.

Step 1

Online Questionnaire

Fill in a secure and simple online questionnaire for your desired service.

Step 2

Medical Review

Our Irish-registered doctors will review to ensure you are medically suitable.

Step 3

Decision Made
Your treatment will be approved if you are deemed medically suitable.